Voters can make a turn on a dime

The election results are in. To put it mildly, politicians are nervous. They fear for their political lives.

Across the state line in New York, the Republicans were rocked by an angry electorate who rejected the Howdy Doody-like Rick Lazio — a genuinely decent inside, moderate Republican — in favor of radical whack-job Carl Paladino. The tabloids are doing quite a job on the guy — the Daily News had a full front page headline reading “Meet Crazy Carl.”

This comes on top of the U.S. Senate election right here earlier this year in blue-state Massachusetts where Republican-lite Scott Brown defeated Democratic standard bearer Martha Coakley.

The message here is this: The electorate will go along with most shenanigans as long things are going moderately well for them. But when tummies and bank accounts are empty, people are out of work, houses are under water and foreclosures are happening, voters will send a message. FDR knew it. He took the nut-jobs very seriously.

You won’t see something that smells like political revolution unless things are bad. When things were bad back in Germany in the 1930s, the very dangerous Adolph Hitler was dismissed by a lot of people as being a clown. We know what happened there. Put another way, it is unlikely but if the wind blows right and Paladino captures the public imagination, he could win.

In Berkshire County, the sheriff’s election turned out pretty much the way I expected it to. This was a big election since the sheriff’s position is big stuff in the county. To begin with, Tom Bowler the police officer beat Dan Bosley the politician. There were a number of reasons. Bowler had Pittsfield and there is a real question whether Bosley, who is joined at the hip with John Barrett III, the defeated mayor of North Adams, had enough popular votes to overcome the Pittsfield geopolitical lead of the cop. Then, too, people would rather have a cop than a politician as sheriff.

I continue to be a huge admirer of John Barrett who may have lost to another good man because he just stayed too long. I am one of those who believe that Mayor James Ruberto was positively brilliant to hire Barrett, with his wealth of experience, to help Pittsfield out.

The people of Pittsfield are divided into two major groups. There are the people who are fighting to bring their city into the 21st century and those who are still waiting for GE to come back. Wake up and smell the coffee, folks. Them GE days are gone forever. When you get a man with Barrett’s knowledge and practical experience, it makes sense to grab him.

Back to national politics, it is certainly conceivable that the House of Representatives may go back to the Republicans and it is also conceivable that the Senate could turn red. The secret here is the middle class. These are the people who vote. They often respond to cues given to them by the competing parties. The Republicans try to convince those of us in the middle that our interests are with those who do better than we do. The Democrats try to convince us that our interests are with those who make less than we do.

The truth is, if the poor all just voted, the Democrats would never lose but the poor vote in far fewer numbers than those in the middle or at the top. Right now, the folks in the middle are hopping mad and likely to see their interests with those above them. I’ve never quite understood this. But it’s sort of like the lottery. Someone has to win and even though your chances stink, you still think it could be you. You don’t want Uncle Sam touching what you might have someday.

Same thing with taxing the rich. Most of us will never be filthy rich but we can dream, can’t we? If we do strike it rich, we do not want the government taking our money in the form of taxes.

It is fascinating that the Republican moderates are being vanquished by the Tea Party right-wingers. The rule in politics is that Republicans run right in the primaries, and then run toward the middle in the general elections. There are those who believe that the right-wing wins in the primaries are good news for the Democrats because the middle-of-the-road voters will not be able to stomach the nut-jobs on the right and will have to vote for the Democrat. In two months, a lot can change.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 9/18/10

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2 Comments on “Voters can make a turn on a dime”

  1. Konstantin Doren Says:


    Why is it that Democrats do not more forcefully get poor people to the polls? Corrupt as it was, Tammany Hall was good at getting poor and working people to vote. It was the New York City class of “blue bloods” that pushed to have Tammany destroyed (I read many newspapers from that era and by reading contemporary accounts, you can trace the arc of opposition that grew against Tammany).

    I remember when Robert Kennedy ran for president and one of his campaign aims was to get urban white blue collar workers to vote with blacks. Bill Clinton had much the same aim and had some success.

    Why the Democrats did not push harder to get working class white men to vote for them is largely due to candidate and President Obama’s obvious discomfort with this group. The Democratic agenda over the past two legislative sessions largely seemed to ignore the economic maelstrom. You cannot blame the Tea Baggers, the RINO’s or the GOP. The fault belongs to the Dems alone.

    Plus, when ACORN had its troubles, most of the Dems were willing, almost gleefully willing, to destroy the most successful group I know of that signed up poor people to vote. Dems have been shooting themselves in the foot so long, I’m surprised there is anything left to aim at.

    Hope you noticed President Obama’s speech in Connecticut last week, where he dumped on the liberals/progressives. Ask the local Democratic pols you know how well the leader of their party disparaging their base is working for them.

    FYI: the economic collapse of Germany took place in the 1920s, which is why Hitler became Chancellor in 1933. The 1930s in Germany was largely a story of economic revival. Rearming Germany was good for business and unemployment. Still, your point remains valid: it can happen here.

    Konstantin Doren

  2. Glaisne Says:

    Spot on Konstantin. Not only can it happen here it will happen here, it is happening here. Logic and reason are currently not holding sway. It is the crazy that is. This country has become insane. Paladino is going to win and so will most if not all of the other crazies. Mark my words.

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