Kentucky held its primary election today (as did Oregon and Arkansas). Not surprisingly, with the presidential nominations for both parties already a done deal, and few local races with any primary competition, turnout was low. Approximately 13% of registered voters felt compelled to exercise that right that supposedly makes us so much better than other countries that we’re justified in destroying them to make them more like us. Unfortunately, I was a little surprised at some of the “also-ran” results. I had expected a low turnout to give more weight to the candidates who appeal to the few but dedicated, giving them more of a chance to challenge the status-quo candidates favored by the dumb and lazy majority. Things didn’t turn out that way.
Despite the fact that all Democratic presidential candidates except Kucinich and Kerry have dropped out of the race, the Kentucky ballot still provided a choice of eight candidates (and an “uncommitted” option). Unfortunately, the best candidate on the ballot, Dennis Kucinich, only received 2% of the vote. The big winner, unsurprisingly, was Kerry, with 60%. What was a little surprising was the way the non-Kerry 40% was divided. John Edwards, a name I have hardly heard mentioned at all in these parts recently, was in second place, with 15%. And, behind Edwards, in third, was Uncommitted, with 9%.
It’s really baffling to me that a candidate who had been actively campaigning in the state, who had generated a lot of enthusiasm, who had a hard-core group of supporters, got so much less support than a candidate who was no longer running and had no campaign presence in the state. The cynic in me thinks it has something to do with the fact that his name was the first one on the ballot.
After reading the Kentucky results and weeping, I went off in search of better news elsewhere. Kucinich had been concentrating harder on Oregon, and there’s a chance that their population might have a higher percentage of enlightened voters. But that search turned out to be fruitless. Their board of elections seems to be behind the curve in computer technology, and I couldn’t find any place that offered statewide results. Even if there was such a site, time zone differences might prevent any results from being available before a reasonable bedtime here.
So then I headed off to Arkansas, virtually speaking. They seem to have their act together in the technical arena, and have an easily accessible results site. Unfortunately, they’re a little slow in reporting results. Their polls closed at 7:30 in Arkansas (8:30 here), and over three hours later, only 12% of their precincts have been tallied. So far, the results there are a little baffling, too. With only three candidates on the ballot (Kerry, Kucinich, and LaRouche), plus the uncommitted option, I expected Kucinich to rack up a higher percentage. But, if the current trend holds, Kerry’s getting 70%, Uncommitted is getting 20%, and Kucinich and LaRouche each get 5%. I’m not sure exactly what those folks in Arkansas are looking for.
On a lighter note, I got a slight morale booster this afternoon from a loyal reader in Texas (trying to atone for W?). Correctly anticipating that I’d need a reason to be a little less depressed about Candidate Kerry, she passed along this Yahoo news report about Kerry’s daughter, Alexandra, at the Cannes Film Festival. Can you say “Yummy”? I did.
Actually, in the category of Beautiful Women Slightly Connected to Politics, my latest obssession is Natalie Maines of Dixie Chicks fame. I’m a little ambivalent about her music; my taste in her genre leans more toward Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, or Martina McBride. But the Chicks are also pleasant to listen to and look at. And they, and especially Natalie, earned my eternal respect when they had the courage to speak out against US military intervention in Iraq at a time when the vast majority of their fans were all gung-ho to go nuke some Iraqis.
The firestorm Natalie generated with her comments finally seems to have died down somewhat, as more and more people realize she was right. Country stations are still playing Darryl Worley’s nauseating Have You Forgotten, but the DJs have stopped trashing the Chicks, and even started playing their music again. And I thought maybe all was forgotten.
And then last week I picked up The New Yorker (the 5/17 issue), and there she was, in a double-page ad for the ACLU. And all I could say was “Oh Baby!” In a black leather jacket, she leaves far more to the imagination than the young Ms. Kerry, but that look on her face provides ample fuel to get that imagination racing. I’ve been frantically searching, with no luck, for an online copy. I can’t believe the ACLU doesn’t have it on their website, but I had no luck searching there. I’m sure it’s in other print media; I’ve seen a single-page version of it in The Nation.
On the page facing Natalie’s imagination-provoking picture, large text proclaims
I am not an American who confuses politics with patriotism. I am an American who loves our country because we are all guaranteed the freedom to disagree with government decisions. I am an ACLU member because no one does more .. to defend the rights of all of us … to sing out loud when we feel it
And all I can add is “Amen, Natalie!” She can sing to me anytime; I’m sure I’d soon forget all the major issues that are depressing me.