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The Election of 96


This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 06, 1996.

An ominous election. Clinton sailed through as Bob Dole ran the worst campaign in recent memory. Virtually nobody voted for Dole, just against Clinton. The Republicans hold on to the Legislative Branch - depressing enough, but much worse when you recall that their numbers include the ancient and evil Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and the oily Jesse Helms of the north state. And Gingrich will remain House Speaker.

On the upside, the unspeakably hypocritical parental rights bill flamed out here in Colorado, a blow to the Virginia Christian coalition entities that sponsored it. The anti-trapping bill passed, but isn’t it frightening that the vote was rather close? Really, what need is there to trap animals anymore? Especially by those ancient and cruel leg traps? Bizarre issues in 1996.

And Ross Perot, the political rodent has vowed to play a role for the foreseeable future. The most nerve-wracking admission thus far.

And in California, Affirmative Action was voted out while marijuana was voted in. Yes, yes, pot is restricted to those needing it for medical use, but nobody believes that. Now people can grow it, sell it, use it within the law. This is all to the good, but it still rankles to see addicts try to pass off their drug of choice as a purely humanitarian concern, and the old opponents demonize it beyond comprehension and the populace taking sides on a quintessentially hypocritical issue.

In Denver, the rabid Craig Silverman loses in the DA race to his hated boss, the personality-challenged Bill Ritter, and Pat Schroeder’s attempt to identically clone herself seems to have been successful. Tom Strickland’s obsequiousness lost to Wayne Allard’s stable side manner, and while I agree with Strickland’s few stated opinions, I can’t say I’m crushed by the outcome.

I said this election was ominous, and the reason is that the voting population now seems to feel that the best way for issues to be resolved is to vote in opposites to fight it out for their entertainment. This may be wise, even responsible, but there is a strong whiff of laziness about it, a reluctance to spend time flensing through major issues, a timidity to forge conclusions that reveal perpetual difficulties ahead. In short, the views of wannabe children. How else can you explain states electing conservative Republican senators and giving Bill Clinton a lopsided victory?

There was one very good piece of news. It’s from Indiana, not only a Republican state but a conservative Republican state that is about ninety six percent white. They elected a black woman to high office in an election where race was not an issue. Say that twice, fix yourself some coffee and look out the window for a while, and think well of the Hoosier state, and - perhaps - of us all.