Viewing U.S. mid-term elections from south of the 49th

© Can Stock Photo / negmardesign

BY PAUL STRICKLAND

Special to the News

RENO, NEV., and CENTRALIA, WASH.–By mid-week long lines had returned to the advance poll station in Old Town Mall in south-central Reno, indicating considerable interest in the mid-term elections.

Bumper stickers in Western Nevada and northeastern California included messages like “IRAQ–I served” and “Vietnam Veteran.” In the Courthouse Cafe in Susanville, Calif., a retired military man had on his table a ball cap with the Latin saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum.”  (If you want peace, be prepared for war.”) He said the federal government promotes socialism and wants citizens to be weak and dependent. He broke off our conversation when his cell phone rang. The ring tone was “Reveille.” The Courthouse Cafe was actually about 12 blocks from the Lassen County Courthouse, although on the wall of the restaurant there was a large mural-size photograph of the courthouse in 1940. I was pleasantly reminded of my tour of duty on the court beat.
 
Many signs marking county boundaries in the U.S. West carry the message “____ County Honors Veterans.” This probably reflects a response to widespread attitudes of disregard in the mid-1970s for Vietnam War veterans who returned home from an unpopular war that had ended in defeat.
 
A barber in Roseburg, Ore., said he’d recently attended a speech in Portland, Ore., by Canadian writer Jordan Peterson. He said he was glad he’d gone, and was pleased that an announcement had been made at the beginning of the event that any hecklers or others trying to disrupt the event would be invited to leave and escorted out by security. He said classics and the classical languages should be returned to American education.
 
In Portland and in southwestern Washington state, considerable concern had arisen over what appeared to be pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats like former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hilary Clinton, key officials in former Democratic administrations and important Democratic Party supporters and fundraisers.
 
Meanwhile others were concerned about a caravan of as many as 7,000 migrants making their way to the Mexican-U.S. border.
 
It is unclear how these events will sort out in their impacts on the results of the mid-term elections to be held Nov. 6. Some undecided voters leaning in a liberal direction may decide that Donald Trump’s intemperate rhetoric inspired extremists to come out of the woodwork and attempt such a project like seriously harm prominent Democrats with mail bombs. Commentators in the Democratic camp say these mid-terms are a last chance for liberal and centrist voters to save what’s left of democratic institutions in the U.S.
 
Undecided voters leaning right and worried about overly porous borders may view the approach of the huge caravan as an indication all control of international boundaries has been lost. They may be motivated to go to the polls to vote for Republicans closely aligned with U.S. president Trump and his policies on immigration.
 
Columnists sympathetic to Scandinavian-style democratic socialism say that Trumpism did not suddenly appear out of nothing to menace American civil liberties and decorum in political debate. They contend thirty years of jobs being exported under globalization, 20 years of job loss through a digital revolution in the workplace and ten years of emphasis on reintensified automation has created serious economic anxiety among workers. 
 
During this time of what could be considered a new Industrial Revolution, the mainstream leaders of the two major parties have done nothing effective to help these workers, instead just saying that more neo-liberal trade treaties will eventually bring benefits to workers and the economy will sooner or later sort itself out, writes John Nichols. a contributing writer for The Progressive, a democratic-socialist magazine published in Madison, Wis.
 
“. . .A Scandinavian-style social welfare state will have to be developed to provide Americans with guarantees of health care, education, transportation and other needs,” Nichols writes. “It is the only rational response to a ‘gig economy,’ where workers cannot count on the benefits packages that sustained their grandparents and their parents are now losing.”
 
Meanwhile, USA Today, the national daily newspaper, focuses on polls, and people have their fingers crossed about what might happen at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6.