By Alec Pruchnicki MD
Definition of Dukakised: loss of a political contest by acting ethically when the opponent is acting unethically or cheating. (see presidential elections: George H. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis, 1988, and George W. Bush vs. Al Gore, 2000)
You won’t see the above definition in Webster’s since it’s rarely been used (above is my explanation). But it describes what we have seen in many past elections. Will it happen again?
With a month to go, there is lots of time for unethical behavior, cheating, and general mischief before November 3rd. We have seen some of this already. Undermining the US Postal Service to suppress mail voting, conservative-packed courts helping voter suppression in states like Florida, doctored videos of Biden, appeals to fear and racism to scare suburban voters about threats to their communities, Republican support for Kanye West and Green Party diversion of Democratic voters, and lies about Biden’s positions on a variety of issues are just a few examples. There is no telling what October surprise Trump will try—such as martial law under the Insurrection Act, a foreign military action, or just refusal to accept election results—again backed by conservative-packed courts. The “Justice” Department of Bill Barr and hearings and investigations by the Republican-dominated Senate are likely, if they have time while forcing us to accept another conservative appointment to the Supreme Court. And, of course, there is no telling what the Russians are doing, as reports on their activities by the Department of Homeland Security have been suppressed as of this writing on September 20th.
Even at this late date there are ways to counteract these actions. There is always getting everyone you know to vote, or donating to one of the countless emails and snail mail pleas for donations. The Village Independent Democrats (villagedemocrats.org), the local West Village club, is conducting phone banking and postcard writing to remind people to vote in swing districts and other states besides New York. The Downtown Independent Democrats to our south and the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club to our north are conducting similar outreaches. Although Biden is acting ethically and cautiously enough, that type of upstanding behavior didn’t help Michael Dukakis or Al Gore. Support for Biden is widely distributed throughout the country, including in swing states, but it’s not overwhelmingly deep. In 2016 Clinton was leading Trump also, until then FBI director Comey gave a misleading press conference just ten days before the election.
It has been said over the years that all politics are local. Those of us following national issues like COVID response, abdication of international leadership, reproductive rights, anti-racism initiatives, police reform, and global warming environmental damage, along with many other concerns, can also see the hyper local damage that can be done. Will attacks on the USPS threaten the postal sub-station on Hudson Street? Will global warming make the next hurricane Sandy flood and destroy more of the Hudson River side of the neighborhood? Will Trump anti-New York and anti-blue state vengeance undermine our economy at this critical time? You can probably think of more, but this is just a taste of what might come.
When walking to work recently, I saw a home with the title of this piece, “Please America, Not Again” emblazed across its front (see last month’s WestView News, page 22). Our future depends on it. Act now.