For the next few weeks we’re going to see a lot of these men: Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee; John McCain and Ron Paul and Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. If we are lucky, we’ll just barely get Christmas day off from the non-stop campaigning
For the week between the New Hampshire primary and our Jan. 15 primary, they are likely to virtually live in Michigan. Each wants to get some momentum going by winning what will be the first major industrial state to choose.
The stakes are pretty high for most of them. Mitt Romney has to win here, period. This is his home state; he grew up here, his father was a famous governor. If he can’t win here, he might as well hang it up. Rudy Giuliani needs to win here too. His campaign has been slipping lately. Michigan is the kind of state he has to win.
We’re also likely to find out in Michigan if Mike Huckabee is an unstoppable force, or a mere comet shooting across the sky. Last week I talked with a prominent Republican pollster who is not favorably inclined towards Huckabee. However, he said that if the man from Hope won Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, he’d be unstoppable. My own hunch is that Ron Paul, the libertarian in GOP clothing, just might do better than expected. Certainly his supporters have more and bigger signs and more fervor than any of the rest.
On the now-meaningless Democratic side, Hillary Clinton ought to romp to victory over Mike Gravel, Chis Dodd and Dennis the Menace Kucinich. The question is how many will come out to vote for uncommitted instead.
But if you ask me, the real heroes of this election are not the candidates, but the citizens who make it possible. Primarily, I mean the election workers, the mostly retired people who voluntarily give up their day to help us vote and the process work. I also mean people like Chris Thomas, who has spent a lifetime behind the scenes making sure the process is as well-oiled as possible. Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is also something of an elections and elections technology junkie. She has improved the equipment and the vote-counting process, which were in pretty good shape to start.
Few remember now, but in 2000, while the nation was mesmerized by the hanging chad mess in Florida, Michigan had a Congressional election that was just as close. They did a recount there, too. But the loser threw in the towel before it was over, because it was clear that almost nothing was changing, and there was no doubt about the integrity of the process.
Finally, if you want to show a little integrity, here’s what you have to do: Vote. I don’t care how inconvenient it is, or whether you are enthralled with the candidates. Vote the best way you know how. Too many people, white and black, some even in my lifetime, have died so that we could do so.