The midterms are over – or almost over. All the races haven’t been called yet. I am relieved that it wasn’t a red wave, and that Kathy Hochul will be our Governor. It certainly was not a complete victory. I am left wondering how Marjorie Taylor Greene was re-elected and why did Herschel Walker get enough votes to force a runoff? These two people are, as Dave Chappelle said about Walker on Saturday Night Live, “observably stupid.” If I think too long about people voting for such incompetent candidates, I get depressed. So I won’t. I will focus on the more reasonable results and breathe a sigh of relief that the Senate will not be led by Mitch McConnell.
I’ve been thinking about some other things related to the election. For example, why are polls reported on as if they are news? Polls aren’t actions and they are subject to misinterpretation, given that few people understand statistics. How do polls further the mission of the New York Times (‘all the news that’s fit to print’) or the Washington Post (‘democracy dies in darkness’)? Polls should not be considered news! And, I could make a strong case that hyping the polls the way that they do, is detrimental to democracy. It certainly doesn’t shed light on it. The actual election is the engine of democracy.
I understand the utility of polling for candidates and their campaigns. The polls can help them target audiences or messages (whether that is a good thing is another subject I would be happy to argue, but I’ll leave that alone). But, what purpose do they serve to the general public? Why are they covered as if something happened, as if there were new developments? They may or may not be accurate and until the actual vote is counted, they mean nothing. All they do is add to the anxiety, they create an artificial energy (whether you are on the ‘losing’ or ‘winning’ side) that fuels more spending. When you look at how much our political races cost, it is mind-blowing. Think of all the good that could be done with that money.
When I mentioned this idea at a family gathering, my niece pointed out that the media report it because people find it interesting – they respond to the horse race aspect of it – and the media is driven by interest/ratings. I believe she is correct. But does it have to be that way? Isn’t it a vicious cycle? What would happen if mainstream media just stopped reporting on it? It is possible that they could make that choice.
My son-in-law commented that he wished we followed the model of some European countries where campaigns are limited to two months. We had a short debate about whether that would lead to more focus on substantive issues, or whether the candidates wouldn’t bother and would just get right to the bullshit allegations and smear campaigns. It is hard to say how it might play out, but either way we wouldn’t be subjected to the onslaught of ads for months – and it would cost far less. After watching a program where each political ad was worse than the one before it, my husband said, “It makes me miss the drug company ads.” I had to laugh. That says something. Gary, the doctor, would rather be inundated by ads that promise relief from eczema.
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We have had some extraordinary weather. Two weeks ago, I lamented that with November beginning, we were entering the dreary part of fall. I was premature in my proclamation. We were given a lovely reprieve. It was great timing for my family in that we hosted several gatherings over the course of the weekend. Our newest granddaughter, just over 5 months old, came for her first visit to our home and we invited aunts, uncles and cousins to meet her.
As the weekend approached, we kept checking the weather forecast. I was hopeful we could gather outside to minimize the possibility of spreading Covid/flu or even a cold. I couldn’t believe that it was going to be that warm and it promised to be dry, too! The forecast held. We had a brief drizzle that wasn’t enough for anyone to move inside, so we were able to eat, drink and visit in our backyard. What a delight!
Then to top it off, we had the most amazing sunset. The sky was pastel pink – the air itself appeared to be pink. I have never seen light like that before. Though we didn’t have many leaves on our trees, we still had some lingering yellow ones. We also have a carpet of pine needles – in bright light they look brown, but in this sunset they were orange. This phenomenon of the light was brief, and I couldn’t capture it on camera. I hope I can keep the image in my mind’s eye – it was spectacular. What gift!
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Speaking of gifts, we are coming into the holiday season where we do a great deal of gift-giving. We don’t want to overdo it with our grandchildren. If there are items we know they need, we are happy to get them, but the truth is there isn’t much they need. We are very fortunate. With our older granddaughter, we are starting to focus on experiences, getting tickets to a show or performance we think she will enjoy. And we can contribute to their college funds – who knows how crazy expensive tuition, and such will be by the time they enroll.
They have enough stuff. The only problem is that it can be fun to pick out stuff – cute outfits, colorful toys, squishy stuffed animals can be irresistible. They can never have enough books, in my estimation, either. But, I will restrain myself. In the interest of our budget, and not contributing to needless clutter, I won’t overdo it. At least I will try not to. Plus I can channel some of that desire to give to others who are in need.