Watching The Returns

Call me crazy, but I think watching returns in an off-year election is perversely interesting.  It’s always intriguing, even if the histrionics and posturing of the networks becomes awfully tiring.  As always, I’ve got some questions.

Some interesting stuff that professional politicos may have known, but I hadn’t focused on:  an African-American, Tim Scott — and a Republican, no less — wins handily in the Senate race in South Carolina, and a woman, Shelley Moore Capito  — also a Republican — wins handily in the Senate race in West Virginia.  Both are historic results.  Why haven’t we heard more about these candidates?

Another curiosity:  John Kasich wins so easily in Ohio that the networks can call the race as soon as the polls close.  How can a swing state like Ohio be so one-sided?  In view of that, how can the people in the Ohio Democratic Party who greased the skids for Ed Fitzgerald, a flawed candidate who got drubbed, possibly keep their jobs?

Why do we put so much stock in polling?  It seems like polls are as often news for being wrong as they are for being right.  How about we just wait for actual results to come in for a change?

What is the demographic for election results viewers?  Watch the commercials and see if you can figure it out.  In Columbus, it’s apparently aging people who need advice on avoiding taxes on their retirement funds and are looking to buy new roofs.

Finally, the networks would do us a favor if they skipped the concession speeches and victory speeches.  The constant “whoop” cries are intolerable, and we’re not exactly hearing the echoes of great orators these days.  Even a roofing commercial would be preferable.

Free Of Debris

When you live in a place for 19 years, as Kish and I have done, you just tend to accumulate a lot of . . . stuff.  Random stuff.  Stuff in boxes.  Stuff that you inherited from someone.  Stuff you saved years ago, and now you don’t know why.

IMG_3510Part of the process of getting your house ready to sell is figuring out what to do with that stuff.  Everybody who sells their house knows that you need to sweep away the clutter, so that people can see the house itself.

And the surprising reality for us was that once we started the process, we really got into it.  It turned out to be therapeutic, in a curious way.  Giving away unwanted stuff to the Volunteers of America or the Furniture Bank of Columbus not only made us feel charitable and community-minded, it was also liberating.  It was like we were finally getting rid of a ponderous pile of material items that, unbeknownst to us, had been subconsciously weighing us down.  Now we’re down to a solid core of furniture, clothes, and other items that we really want, use, need, and like, and we’re ready to move forward, nimbly.

I don’t know how the effort to sell our home will go, but just the effort to make ourselves free of debris has been worth it.

Vote, Or We’ll Shoot This Dog

In a few minutes I’ll be heading to the polls.  I vote because it makes me feel good and because I view it as every eligible American’s civic duty — but I draw the line at sending weirdly threatening letters to people who don’t exercise their franchise.

That’s what happened in the Empire State, where the New York Post reports that the New York State Democratic Committee sent letters to voters promising to check on whether they had gone to the polls.  The letter says: “Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record.”  It adds that “We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014.”  As a parting shot, the letter states:  “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”

Apparently this kind of voter turnout technique is called “voter shaming” and has been used in other states.  The New York version, though, has an edge of menace and personal accountability designed to ensure maximum effectiveness.  It reminds me of the classic National Lampoon cover with a gun being held to a worried dog’s head and the tagline:  “If you don’t buy this magazine we’ll kill this dog.”  One can almost imagine thuggish, pin-striped representatives of the New York State Democratic Committee knocking on doors and saying:  “Nice little neighborhood you got here.  Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

Apparently “voter shaming” has been effective in some places.  I hope it’s effective in New York, too — and the people who got that over-the-top letter all go to the polls and vote against every Democratic candidate, to send a message to the strong-arming jerks who presumed to try to intimidate them into voting in the first place.

As for everyone who lives outside of New York and didn’t receive a “voter shaming” letter, I hope you vote for the candidate of your choice because it’s the right thing to do.