Richard Nixon once even went to Mexico on Election Day, to have a relaxed lunch away from the cameras before the returns.
Of course, it also used to be an axiom that nobody paid serious attention to any campaign until after the World Series, which used to end in early October. Nowadays, they play major league baseball from March till November, and this year’s series may not be over till after the election.
And you can bet that Rick Snyder, Virg Bernero, and everybody else running for anything else will be on the phones, at the polls and in front of the cameras tomorrow hustling for every last vote.
Sometimes, that may make sense. Ask Dan Benishek, who this year won the GOP nomination for Congress from northern Michigan by a mere fifteen votes. The length of today’s campaigns doesn’t bother me, at least not as much as the thought of playing the World Series in the snow. But something else has been bothering me about this year’s campaign, something I couldn’t figure out at first.
Then the other night I was watching a movie called Enemy at the Gates, about the battle for Stalingrad. Worried Soviet generals were trying to figure out how to make their men fight better.
They had tried shooting cowards and threatening the men’s families. Finally, a junior officer says, “What about giving them hope?”
His superiors are stunned. What an amazing idea! Give the men hope in a better future! They try that, and it works.
That was the problem with this year‘s campaign. Nobody, as far as I could tell, has been offering Michigan much hope.
That wasn‘t the main message they conveyed, anyway. Bernero flirted with a theme of bringing back our old-time prosperity, though he didn’t exactly say how. But he was soon working overtime trying to scare the voters, telling them that Snyder would send our last remaining jobs to China, and threaten women’s reproductive rights. Snyder said he had a ten-point plan and the business know-how to bring Michigan back. But his campaign was mainly focused on bashing the Democrats. This was repeated all across the state and, so far as I could tell, across the nation.
There seemed to be a universal slogan: Vote For Me: My Opponent is Even Worse.
That doesn’t do much to inspire.
I have this fantasy that I’ll turn the TV on tonight, and see one of the candidates saying: “Look, we’re facing tough times ahead. We’re going to have to pay more taxes and maybe get fewer services on top of that. We’re going to have some pain, but when all is said and done, I think we can build a better Michigan.
“And I want you to give me your vote.”
That’s the candidate I wish we could vote for tomorrow. Sadly, I’m afraid we‘ll have to make do instead with the ones we have.