Be sure to read Jack Mitchell’s recent post on Left-in-Lowell about the Lowell Sun’s coverage of the City Manager and the Pollard Memorial Library. Jack prudently copied and retained some interesting Facebook postings that have since been (mysteriously) deleted. Thankfully, Jack includes them in his piece.
I’ve been fascinated by the on-going struggle to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis, both because the failure to resolve it will be economically calamitous and also because the outcome will in many ways shape next year’s federal election. Four years ago the voters threw out the Republicans; two years ago they threw out the Democrats. Prevailing wisdom says that if the economy is doing well next fall, President Obama will be re-elected; if it’s doing poorly, he won’t. I’m not sure I agree with that. Next time, I think voters will go for whichever party they dislike the least, and how the parties handle things during the next seven days will carry much weight when voters go to the polls next November.
That election will not only decide whether President Obama continues in office, it will also decide whether Scott Brown stays in the United States Senate. With $10 million already on-hand and high marks in statewide popularity polls, he would appear to be in pretty good shape. But Brown has only run statewide once, and that was in the January 2010 special election in which he received 1,168,107 votes to Martha Coakley’s 1,058,682. While the 2,149,026 votes cast i that race where extraordinarily high for a special election in the dead of winter, the statewide turnout in a presidential election is substantially higher. For example, in 2008 in Massachusetts, Barrack Obama received 1,904,097 votes to John McCain’s 1,108,854. The statewide turnout in that 2008 race (3,102,995) was 44% higher than the vote total in the 2010 special.
While the turnout in the 2012 statewide election might not reach the level seen in 2008, it will undoubtedly exceed the vote totals from January 2010 by a substantial margin. It will be those additional voters who will decide whether Scott Brown continues in office. That’s why I find the possible senate candidacy of Elizabeth Warren so intriguing. True, she’s not a Massachusetts native and she’s never ran for public office before, but neither of those is electorally terminal – just ask Deval Patrick. As for the money, Warren could become the beneficiary of a national groundswell of support from all the under-siege elements of the Democratic coalition, much like Brown did in the closing weeks of his race with Coakley. In fact, every negative you could apply to a Warren candidacy finds a Brown-echo from just 18 months ago.
Warren hasn’t ruled anything out and is supposedly mulling a Senate candidacy right now. If she jumps in Massachusetts could immediately become ground zero in the battle for control of the US Senate. In the meantime, check out the following video of Warren’s 2010 appearance on the Charlie Rose program and draw your own conclusions about what kind of a candidate she might make at this point in our history:
1. We exist in a universe that humans up to now have not been able to comprehend. We inhabit a planet with weather that at times can be merciless. At other times we enjoy its equilibrium, especially in New England. We live among a vast variety of people, including some who act violently without warning, as seen in Norway yesterday. We live in a global society functioning on innumerable tracks. The expectation is that a person will absorb news of horrendous destruction, massive loss of life somewhere, local squabbles, and consequential political turmoil, and then change gears to do Saturday morning household errands. We shake our heads, saying ”senseless, unexplainable, idiotic, exasperating,” depending on the degree of tragedy. To function, we must carry these diverse threads of information in our heads and stay balanced in our response.
2. Are the national Republicans in Washington, D.C., so fearful of President Obama’s political appeal that they will not help him solve any big problem in a way that reflects even some of his policy preferences? In the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said months ago that his primary goal is to ensure that President Obama is a one-term president. At what cost to the American public, Sen. McConnell?
3. What is going on with the proliferation of movies based on comics and the return of old-time cartoon superheroes and new versions of the same? I know the comics never went away, but pop culture is densely packed with these characters and stories. Does the trend point to something going on in a society in which many people feel overwhelmed by forces they can do little to affect? A Facebook friend posted yesterday about “Archie” comics. Archie and pals were far from superheroes.
MassMoments reminds us that on this day – July 23, 1846 – Henry David Thoreau after walking from his Walden Pond cabin to do an errand – found himself in the Concord town jail for refusing to pay his back taxes. His was just an over-night stay – as someone unasked paid those taxes for him. This greatly annoyed Thoreau who withheld the poll taxes as a conscience protest against the institution of slavery. As he later wrote in his essay “”Civil Disobedience” -
“…it is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and . . . not to give it practically his support.”
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist admired as an original thinker and a gifted writer. He produced an extraordinary body of work — journals, essays, poetry, and books – that included his first book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” published in 1849 and “Walden, or, Life in the Woods” published in 1854.
Read more about Thoreau here at MassMoments.com.
Jack Kerouac tuning in to the universe. (Photo by John Cohen, 1959; web image courtesy of theselvegeyard)