Random election thoughts

I voted in the high school gymnasium in my little town with my wife and son.  It was my son’s first presidential election.  Had to wait in line half an hour–the longest I’ve ever had to wait, I believe.  I approve of mail-in ballots and disapprove of multi-hour waits, but there is something very uplifting about waiting in line with your neighbors to perform your civic duty.  Alas, my (affluent) little town went for both Romney and Scott Brown, which made me feel a little less kindly towards my neighbors.

I work in the next town over from Belmont, where Mitt Romney resides.  One of my co-workers had just voted in Belmont when Romney arrived to vote, and the Secret Service cleared out everyone who had been in line for half an hour, so Romney could vote in privacy.  This didn’t win him any friends.  Belmont went for Obama.

To follow the election, I watched TV, mostly with the sound muted.  I followed my Twitter feed on my iPhone, and I consulted my favorite web site on my iPad.  How did I manage in the old days?

Elizabeth Warren, of course, defeated Scott Brown for the Senate.  Scott Brown gave a rambling but pleasant concession speech.  Brown has bobbed along on the currents of history for a couple of years, unable to become the master of events.  He won because he ran against a bad candidate at a time when the Tea Party was riding high.  He lost in a presidential election year in a highly Democratic state against a strong candidate.  He had to go negative against Warren, which made him look small, and he never had a good answer for why we should send him back to Washington and risk having the Republicans take over the Senate.  He just never made himself that important.  But he retains a lot of good will, and if John Kerry becomes Secretary of State, he would be a favorite to win Kerry’s seat — which probably makes it less likely that Kerry will become Secretary of State.

Unlike Brown’s, Mitt Romney’s concession speech was short and quite eloquent.  Unlike Brown, he didn’t talk about how he was going to keep fighting for the little guy — he didn’t talk about policy at all.  How could he, when it was so clear that he had no particular policies he wanted to fight for?  And, unlike Brown, he has no electoral base, no residual good will to call upon.  The pundits I watched spent a few minutes saying nice things about him before the speech, but now he’s gone, and I can’t imagine that he’ll be back.  Like Michael Dukakis (the other Massachusetts governor who ran for president), he’ll fade quickly into history.

Catholics backed Obama over Romney 50-48, despite the warnings of many bishops.  That’s a lot of people risking eternal damnation.

In my one election prediction, I figured that physician-assisted suicide would go down to a narrow defeat in Massachusetts, despite being initially very popular.  I was right!  The anti-suicide folks had a 5-1 spending advantage, plus media support, and that was enough to change enough minds.  I would not have anticipated that medical marijuana would win so easily, however.

Finally, here is the best election story I came across:

“I was filling out the form as were an elderly couple sitting at a nearby table,” said Houston on Tuesday. “His wife, who was helping him fill out the ballot, asked him a couple of questions but he didn’t respond. She screamed for help and I went over to see what I could do.”

Houston laid the victim on the floor and went to work.

“He was dead,” Houston said. “He had no heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing. I started CPR, and after a few minutes, he revived and started breathing again. He knew his name and his wife’s name.”

What happened next astounded Houston and the victim’s wife.

“The first question he asked was ‘Did I vote?'”

He did vote.  But I like it that we don’t find out who he voted for.

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