Thursday, 01 November 2012
Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 Election
How does a 65-year-old American, especially one who was governor of a state for four years, not know that in a major disaster – of which there have been many in recent years – food donations are not helpful?
Long before Hurricane Sandy finished unleashing its havoc on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney mindlessly asked supporters at what he said was a non-political event in Ohio to bring canned food for storm victims as their admission ticket.
Then, while ostentatiously loading the unneeded/unwanted packaged goods onto a truck for the cameras, Romney refused to answer 13 questions about his primary-season declaration that it is immoral to spend federal (FEMA) money on disaster relief.
It gets worse: it turns out that Romney campaign operatives, worried that there would not be enough food to look good on television, staged the giving by purchasing $5,000 worth of granola bars and other groceries the night before the Tuesday event.
But that's just pathetic, petty cravenness, small potatoes compared to the lies in Romney's latest campaign videos and radio spots.
If you are not stuck without power in the storm track, you undoubtedly have heard about Romney's false claims that Chrysler is moving local jobs to China and that the federal rescue of GM encouraged the company to outsource jobs.
So blatantly untrue are these claims that executives from both auto companies felt compelled to publicly expose the lies:
“We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” said GM spokesman Greg Martin. “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”
“At this stage, we’re looking at a Hubble telescope-length distances between campaign ads and reality...GM’s creating jobs in the US and repatriating profits back to this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.”
Nevertheless, without an iota of shame from Romney and his surrogates, the commercials continue to be broadcast which leads me to believe their August statement that the campaign would ignore fact checkers is the one true thing we've heard from them.
These, of course, are not the only instances of Romney's untruths – they are legion, and I have been trying to work out the real-world consequences of having a president - the leader of both the nation and the world - who lies as easily and, apparently, as reflexively as pulling on his pants in the morning.
You're free to ponder that in the comments but that's not what I'm here for today – I just wanted to mention it because it is no small concern. But it is not the most imminent question.
Take a look at this map I lifted yesterday from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Blog at The New York Times:
Check this: of the 15 states and District of Columbia affected by Hurricane Sandy, 13 are safely blue – that is, expected to vote Democratic. Well, Ohio is still wobbly so make it 12. Either way, my point doesn't change:
You've seen the devastation in the photos and the videos along with the despair and/or brave front on the faces of storm victims. Some have lost everything. For many, it will be months, even years before their lives are set right again.
The immediate problem is that of the eight-plus million without power, light and heat, those necessities will be a long time returning. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of cars are wrecked beyond use too. And public transportation is, so far, sporadic and crowded.
In the wake of all this, how many do you think are concerned about voting on Tuesday? How many do you think have a means to get to a polling place? How many polling places and voting machines do you think still exist or are operable?
Early voting has been suspended for a period in some of the affected states. Many polling stations in schools and other public buildings are flooded. Particularly in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, power may not be restored by election day. Is there time to arrange for alternative balloting – paper? - if machines aren't working? Probably not.
And so, dear readers, for the first time in our adult lives, polling and surveys are useless this year in predicting the outcome of the election. It's almost a relief to have what might be called a "natural" election without the influence of media and polls.
But it's not quite natural either as voting patterns of those 15 states and District of Columbia have been knocked off kilter, and if the election is close, it will be debated forever what might have been without Hurricane Sandy.
Another little note for you at The Elder Storytelling Place today. New stories will return next week.