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The Reality Show in Georgia and Kansas

There’s an intriguing gubernatorial race coming to a close down in Georgia, where the polls show longtime state legislator and Democrat nominee Stacey Abrams within striking distance of becoming the nation’s first black woman governor with an upset victory over Georgia Secretary of State and Republican nominee and boringly white male Brian Kemp, and it makes for some very compelling television.
On Thursday this latest spin-off of the reality television show that is now American politics featured former talk-show hostess and billionaire media mogul and famously black woman Oprah Winfrey stumping for Abrams, while Vice President of the United States and boringly white male Mike Pence was making a pitch for Kemp. Judging by the headlines Winfrey brought more star power to the state than Pence, who wound up telling a sizable rally crowd that “I’m kind of a big deal, too.” As far as we’re concerned it was a pretty clever line, as the Abrams campaign was also being visited by the often annoying yet frequently funny comic actor Will Ferrell, whose pompous “Ron Burgundy” character in the “Anchorman” movies has the catchphrase “I’m kind of a big deal,” but even to the extent the crowd got the obscure pop-cultural reference it was still a revealingly self-deprecating joke.
We’ve always hated the way those damned Democrats deploy their big-name celebrities with no discernible relevant political knowledge into the public debates, but in this age of former reality star and current President of the United States Donald “You’re Fired” Trump we can’t see where the damned Republicans have any moral ground to stand on to grouse about it. We’ve also long lamented how those damned Democrats make such a big deal of race and sex and class and sexual predilection and what not, but lately we’ve noticed that many of our fellow boringly white male middle-class heteros are doing the same. At this point, we’ll leave it to the people of Georgia to elect their next governor.
All politics is local, as we still like to believe, and the average Georgian is at least as well apprised of his state’s issues as we are, so we’ll trust them to settle it out. From this safe distance we note that Abrams has substantial debt, including to the government, but she seems to have won the debt-laden vote with the same deftness that Trump made a virtue of his past business bankruptcies and foreign debts and “that makes me smart” tax dodges. As acting Secretary of State the Republican nominee Kemp has challenged tens of of thousands of voter registrations, inordinately of black voters, but with help from the likes of Winfrey that’s likely to spur more than tens of thousands of extra black votes. There are probably issues about taxes and funding the schools and roads and other persistent problems of the real world, which concern every race and class and sexual predilection and what not of the human race, but we’ll also happily leave that to the Georgians, as we’ve got our own problems here in Kansas.
Here in Kansas and Sedgwick County and Wichita the races are pretty tight, except for the first congressional district race where the endearingly boring white male and old-fashioned establishment Republican incumbent is cruising toward another notch in a well-deserved undefeated win streak for the party. Although we expect the Trump-ish yet exceedingly boring white guy running as the Republican candidate here in the Fourth District to win by less than the usual Republican margin over a white guy candidate who’s lately gone too far left, those suburban Kansas City second and third districts to the east seem likely to to yield the Democrats a rare Kansas congressional seat, with one being contested by a boringly centrist white Democratic guy and the other by a Native American lesbian kick-boxer.
There’s also a good chance the state will be electing its third Democratic woman governor, too, and it should worry the Republicans everywhere that all of Kansas’ living past Republican governors but one and two of the three living past Republican senators and nearly half of the current Republicans in the state legislature and such longtime Republicans as ourselves will be voting for her. It’s mostly for complicated local political reasons we can’t take time to get into here, but we admit the countrywide craziness also plays its part.

— Bud Norman

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Crazy Possibilities in a Crazy Year

By all reliable accounts this past weekend’s Libertarian Party convention was quite an unconventional affair, replete with the party’s chairman stripping down to his underwear at the podium and the eventual nominee being heavily invested in the more-or-less legal marijuana industry, but in this crazy election year none of that is at all beyond the pale. The hypothetical ticket of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld was already poling at 10 percent before it actually won the  Libertarian nod, and in this crazy election year nothing that happened at the crazy convention seems likely to budge that significant number.
At least the party chairman didn’t boast about what was hidden by his underwear, as the Republican party’s presumptive nominee has done on a nationally-televised debate stage, and whatever quibbles one might with have the nominee’s dealings in a business that is still technically illegal according to federal law if not in the states where he is operating, it seems a rather small point in the post-legal age his thoroughly corrupt Democratic opponent and her lawless “Choom Gang” successor have wrought. The presumptive Republican nominee has run casinos and strip joints that were until rather recently illegal and social proscribed in most sane jurisdictions and still strike us as pandering to worse vices than marijuana use, and the crimes credibly alleged against the presumptive Democratic nominee involve national security, so that ten percent of the public willing to vote for someone they’ve never heard of might well persist even after they find out who he is.
At this point there’s no telling how that might affect what is shaping up as a close election. The Libertarian Party’s radically laissez-faire economic policy is the exact opposite of stubborn Democratic challenger Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander’s self-described socialism, but we expect that Johnson’s pro-dope stance will lure some of them away from from the presumptive Democratic nominee, who is so quintessentially establishment in this crazy anti-establishment year that she’s a former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State, and was awful in every single post. The Libertarians’ insane isolationist foreign policy is at this point no more worrisome than what the major parties’ presumptive nominees are offering, and unlike either of the major party nominees they’re at least for free speech if you want to gripe about it. In this crazy anti-establishment year there are a lot of otherwise Republican voters who are just tired of being bossed around, though, and aren’t nclined to be told “you’re fired” and “shut up” by some proudly bossy reality show star, so the Libertarians should peel off a few Republican votes as well, and even if both members of the ticket are twice-elected governors they’re still so far outside the mainstream they’re a deadlier  blow to the hated-on-both-sides “establishment” than either major party ticket..
In this crazy year it’s hard to tell how it will shake out, as there are bound to be other twists and counter-twists in the plot. The brilliant but ever-hopefudl Bill Kristol of the essential Weekly Standard is still clinging to some faint  hope that a third or fourth or fifth party deus ex machina will provide some plausible alternative to what the established two-party system has vomited up, and at this point in this crazy year one can only hold out such hope.

— Bud Norman