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I'm suffering from election overload

Date: 11/5/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

So, tell me bunky, are you suffering from election over-load? Do you twitch and drool uncontrollably when a political ad comes on television? Are you making a pile of those big postcards in favor of a candidate and thinking of wallpapering your kitchen with them? Have you ceased to care who actually wins or loses? Do you look forward to the robo-calls because you're lonely? Is that what's troubling you, [pause a beat] cousin? (With apologies to Eddie Lawrence – go look him up).

If you think the barrage of Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren ads that come on every 15 minutes on television has been bad, thank your lucky stars you don't live in a swing state like Virginia where my brother and mother live.

I was there visiting my family recently and the television is awash with PAC ads supporting the presidential and senatorial candidates. As I noted in last week's column, I do get concerned about the quality of political speech and advocacy in the nation. I think we have made little progress in an attempt to elevate it to the recounting of records of accomplishment and the discussion of issues.

Instead the ads I saw bring us back to the technique of simply trying to scare voters into supporting someone. Really, is that any way to run a republic?

The sheer amount of ads is overwhelming. One wonders just how much good could be done with the millions of dollars that are being spent on these mini-screeds.

I think it has been interesting to see how the campaigns of both candidates here for the Senate have changed from being sort of soft and "gee whiz" to now using the worst photos available of each other to link a negative connotation with a nasty face.

Of course it is difficult to find a bad photo of Brown as he is too darn handsome and dreamy. Don't you think on a senator's income, he would have bought a new coat, though? Warren does tend to make some interesting faces during the course of a discussion, which has proven to be fodder for Brown's media managers.

There is one ad that noted that Brown could be the one vote in the Senate that could overturn Roe V. Wade because the Senate will undoubtedly vote on a the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice. Since Brown has repeatedly stated his support of a woman's right to chose, I thought this was simply more election puffery. Of course, his stated admiration for Justice Scalia has now given me pause on this point.

Well, it will be all over soon and then the post-game festivities will begin. I've wondered recently if political junkies will ever adopt the activities of sports fans who take the street to overturn cars and set fire to busses either to express their joy of winning or their despair in losing – you can't tell the difference.

I know I want to spend a week watching movies and not thinking a lick about politics – that's probably not going to happen.


Speaking of political campaigns, I was reminded of something last week. My brother shared a clipping from the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram that he had found. After my dad retired from teaching at Granby Junior-Senior High School, he ran for School Committee in that town, but he didn't campaign. He didn't buy a single ad, a bumper sticker or yard sign. He didn't go door-to-door soliciting votes.

His attitude was that people in the town knew him through his many years at the high school and if they wanted him on the School Committee, they would cast a vote for him. If he didn't win the seat, it was not going to crush him.

He did win and some of the other candidates who had taken the more traditional route allegedly weren't too happy at his approach.

I'm not saying candidates can do anything like that today, but I think my dad's technique was, at the very least, refreshing.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.