We leave the five mariners safely on board Sparky to write of other things. But the “Rescue at Sea” series is not over. We are still 140 miles from shore, 10 of us now on a boat fitted for five, and while we have been rescued, more remains to be told – less dramatic, but no less important – a story of courage and kindness, a story to which we will return to find out why Sparky turned back, the final day at sea, the fate of Restive. I will intersperse the sea tale with other posts over the next few weeks, and I hope you will stay tuned. Thank you for your expressions of interest. The Numbers Game
Last night’s debate was not the roller derby I’d anticipated, although the pundits are seizing on the few personal dust-ups to make it seem like a free-for-all. That’s, of course, why we tuned in – for politics as entertainment spectacle. But that’s what American politics has always been, and sometimes out of the process emerges a Madison, a Lincoln, an FDR, a Barack Obama. I thought the ten candidates, not one of whom I want to be our next president, held up well in what is a humiliating venue, and this sort of cattle show may actually prod the candidates off their scripted sound bites and give us insights into their beliefs.
Much is made of the unwieldy numbers, but why shouldn’t all 17 candidates be included? (I keep hearing about Carly Fiorina’s performance, and I was sorry to miss it). There are, however, other numbers that need closer attention:
- Thanks to Citizens United, ever fewer people are giving ever more money to political candidates. According to a New York Times report, 400 families have provided almost half the $388 million raised to date, and some candidates are completely dependent on only three or four donors – making them seem less like presidential timber than wholly owned subsidiaries of their own personal billionaires.
- The impact of Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which gutted the Voting Rights Act (which turned 50 yesterday) is already suppressing voter turnout in several states.
Fewer donors. More money. Fewer voters. These numbers do not add up to a healthy democracy.