Thursday, November 04, 2010


[A schlep yes, but OUR schlep]

I came to Wisconsin to volunteer on the re-election campaign of Senator Russ Feingold. When I left California in early September the election campaign was considered even, which is why I was interested. Only in a close contest can one hope to make a difference. Along the way, particularly in Canada, I had no news of Wisconsin.

I was under a double news blackout in the Northern Kingdom (You didn't know 'dominion' and 'kingdom' are synonyms?). Not only was I not interested in hearing the disingenuous ranting of demonstrable falsehoods that constitutes American political campaigns, but the Canadians were engaged in their own exchange of lies leading up their elections in October. Further, extending my 3G internet access to Canada even temporarily was outrageously expensive so I declined to pay to connect there.

When I emerged from the northern darkness into the glare of American election coverage, Feingold was trailing the Republican candidate Johnson by 52%-48% in the polls. Polls used to be problematic and unreliable. The classic image is of Harry Truman smiling and holding up a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times with the headline "Dewey defeats Truman" which the newspaper had prepared and printed on the strength of Dewey's lead in the polls. With the progress of voting by mail, people being polled are no longer talking about how they intend to vote but more and more about how they have already voted. So polls close to elections are becoming more believable.

In the end Johnson won by 5%, which means he got substantially more of the undecided vote than Feingold did.

I wanted Feingold to win and the Democrats to keep the Congress. But in the end I didn't really give a damn. I don't know why I bother to volunteer on these stupid campaigns when I don't fundamentally care about the outcome. Whichever candidate wins there will still be cakes and ale. Maybe no medical coverage, but cakes and ale there will be.

Lacrosse is as tedious a town as Grand Junction was two years ago. Quitting volunteering is like quitting smoking or giving up rich foods. One knows one should but just this once....

I think the issue is not politics at all but the sense that one needs to infuse meaning into a life no longer dominated by the wretchedness of forty hours of 8 to 5 every week. Like most things, it really isn't about what one says it is about.

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