Columns 2014

The last words on a depressing campaign season

This is my last column before the general election. Can I get a “Hallelujah”? In just one week the positively depressing, ugly, noisy campaigns of truthiness will be over. I already voted. Whereas just a short week ago I felt at least a slight twinge of guilt when I walked from my mailbox straight to my recycle bin with all the political mailers, now I do so with a completely clear conscience.

I recently spoke with a friend who explained that he was not voting for anyone this year. I was shocked, as I knew him to be a conscientious voter. He then clarified his statement by adding that he would be voting. It’s just that all his votes would be against someone, not for the person whose name he actually chose on the ballot. I thought about that and realized he was probably speaking for more than a few Alaskans.

Just think for a moment about some of our choices. Don Young stands out as particularly cringe worthy. On a good day, anyone following what he says and does would assume the early stages of senility. But Alaskans who have had the privilege of being represented by Don in Congress for the past two hundred years know that this is just Don being Don. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. We keep voting him into office no matter how embarrassing or abusive he becomes. Or maybe we just figure sending him to Washington keeps him out of Alaska and that’s a good thing.

Poor Forrest Dunbar, he’s not nearly crazy enough for us to elect him. I mean, with Sarah out of office, Don is the last joke we have on a national stage. Who else would we laugh at if he were gone? Who else would cause us such embarrassment when outside relatives ask us what we were thinking when we voted?

But enough about poor Don. Let’s take a look at the senate race. Begich versus “the other” Sullivan. Has there even been a campaign in Alaska more filled with half-truths, innuendoes and smears than this one? I think my favorite lie comes straight from one of the many outside groups supporting Sullivan. That’s the one where they state that Begich was the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act. They are apparently running that same ad in every state where an incumbent Democrat is running for re-election. Of course, Begich and those outside groups supporting him are running some pretty questionable ads too. For instance, is there a law somewhere that I haven’t heard about which defines exactly how long you have to live in Alaska to be an Alaskan able to run for public office without having your bona fides questioned? I mean, aside from the law defining Alaskan citizenship for purposes of the PFD, which every true Alaskan has memorized.

The governor’s race is probably the one that has seen the most dramatic change of fortunes. Thanks to the horrific mess at the Alaska National Guard, the incumbent, who should have been able to run on his Choose Respect program and pull in women from all walks of life, is now trying to prove that he’s not some sort of chauvinistic pig who ignored rape, sexual harassment and a vast quantity of other abuses at the Guard. And a lifelong Republican who is running as an Independent with a staunchly Democratic running mate is cleaning up in the polls. In so many ways this all could only happen in Alaska where being an Independent actually attracts votes.

Finally, the initiatives. Ah the initiatives. They range from legalizing and regulating pot to overturning a city ordinance whose main purpose seems to be to cripple the police and fire departments while extending a middle finger to unions. There are ads claiming that Begich’s legacy as Anchorage mayor was a multi million dollar debt. If we don’t repeal the labor ordinance, Sullivan’s legacy will be a weakened police and fire department that could lead to unthinkable tragedies.

I guess that’s about it. I promise not to write about the current election again unless Alaskans do something positively amazing like ousting Don so he can get the care he obviously needs for his increasingly erratic behavior. That way, we get a fresh face in Congress to surprise us with all the new and interesting ways he can think up to embarrass Alaskans.