Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fear and Cynicism at the Ballot Box (Thursday LINKS)

This Presidential Race is over.  What most news outlets would like to convince you is a horse race is really a glacier, and not even the melting kind.  While I will not be able to resist daily poll watching, barring a catastrophe or game changing economic event, the voters have made up their minds.

So what now?

As we've discussed earlier, the purpose of the next two months will be to decrease the other guy's base while motivating their own to vote.  If you are undecided: 1) Wow, really?; and 2) These candidates are not that into you.  But that won't stop news commentators from talking about "independent voters" from now until Election Day.  Why?  Because you like to see yourself as an independent voter.  No matter what your voting record, individual views, or even interest in politics, the majority of the electorate, yourself included, likes to see themselves as a discerning Solomon, checking the scales.  Even party stalwarts will say "I came to this decision after prolonged deliberation.  I like (insert name)'s Plan for America."

Said otherwise, you won't hear "I just vote where the little letters next to the names tell me to vote...and then I get a sticker."

That's not to say we are all partisans.  I will tell you that from my own perspective, I will almost certainly be voting more out of fear than affirmation.  It is an anxious time to be an American.  Both sides are telling us that the other side will destroy America as we know it.  It's the kind of stuff that makes you want to check the batteries in your fire alarms and drive back home to make sure you didn't leave the stove on.  It sticks in your head in such a way that all you can think about is the consequences of a November going the wrong way.  We may have heard this in the past, but with a recent history of 2008 and 9/11, the American public believes that the world can change in a day or over the course of a month.

And this anxiety is already causing some to "unplug".  "This campaign is so nasty.  A pox on both their houses."  That sentence constitutes a success for one of the two parties.  If it truly represents that person's view of the election, and not just a Facebook brain toot, it represents one little Christmas light that has gone out for one of the two sides.  That person will probably not vote and has created an influence, however small, on others to also not vote.

I regret, and even resent, the fact that we cannot use our elections to talk reasonably about the Country's problems.  I regret that you can't have an idea anymore without someone trying to put a label on it or suggest that you are otherwise advocating for a particular candidate.  I mostly regret that the most cautious and self-doubting among us have been spurned from politics for not being true believers.  To the extent I have not provided a comfortable forum for you to participate in the conversation, I would love to hear what I could do to bring you in (without muting the more caustic among us).

But if you know who you are going to vote for, you're the target.  Not of your candidate.  But of cynicism, apathy, and fear.  The thing is, those emotions don't get us anywhere.


The Orioles score 5 runs in the 5th Inning and beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3, taking sole possession of the top Wild Card spot.  For those new to the Orange Team, the current Manager of the sinking Red Sox, Bobby Valentine, was considered for the Team Manager spot before Buck Showalter.  He was even offered the job.  Bobby V turned us down, mispronouncing our star catchers name ("Witters"), and indicating that he was waiting for a spot on one of the "winning teams" in the AL East.  How.  Ya like.  Dem Apples.

Whooping cough is making a comeback in Maryland, partially thanks to the false vaccination-autism links that kept thousands of parents from immunizing their children.  The outbreak started out in Washington State, where this bit of bogus science found the greatest purchase. 

A federal judge has approved the sale of Sparrows Point Mill in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings fro RG Steel.  The glimmer of light in all of this is that the purchaser, a plant liquidator, has indicated that it will look for operators before setting the plant up for being dismantled.  Maybe I'm naive or just plain ignorant, but I would expect at word from our Governor or his office as to what the State plans to do to help these workers get retrained and find new employment.  The hollowing out of the middle class continues.

Maryland received a $5.8 million grant to teach children about climate change.  That may be hard to do when there is three feet of snow outside this winter.  (And no, snow is not proof that climate change doesn't exist).

Luke Lavoie really did a fantastic job with this story about the future of the Columbia Association.  Frequent readers know I am a big fan of Phil Nelson, but his efforts to evaluate future needs and set up the building blocks necessary to assure a successful future for our organization represents some of his most impressive work.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: If you expected Starbucks to have a "Plan B" for whenever their barista machine stopped working, WB has a story for you.  Somebody get Howard Schultz on the phone.  Maybe instead of "Onward" you should be telling your employees "See those French Press machines lining our shelves?  Those boxes open."

That's all for today.  HUGE thanks to fellow CA Board Member Regina Clay for an additional donation to Living in Recovery.  It made me think that I don't want our adventures in Philanthropy to be over.  My 31st Birthday is a little over a month away.  If you work with or are on the Board of a non-profit that is in need of a mini-grant ($500 - $2,000), please e-mail me.  Depending on how many people e-mail me their requests, I'll pick one (with Jane's counsel) bring it to all of you for consideration.  If we could raise another $2,000 for a deserving organization over the course of my birthday week, that would be a pretty awesome feat.

Please also RSVP for next Tuesday.  We're bordering on 20 people.  Let's get it to 30.

Have an AWESOME Thursday doing what you love.  (I'm feelin' it this morning)