Door-to-Door: Keeping Our Dignity

By Pat Lynch

What if our local politicians tweeted lurid accusations/insinuations about their opponent’s mates? What if we had debates where one candidate said another candidate had tiny hands? You know what that means. And then the tiny hands candidate came boldly forth to proclaim that his hands were “yuge, just yuge,” and his followers cheered and thundered?
Imagine Darrel Steinberg making a crude remark about Angelique Ashby. Never happened, never will. Imagine Ashby threatening, via tweet, to “spill the beans” on Steinberg’s wife. Never happened, never will. There are no beans. We have few tabloid political excitements in Sacramento. It’s not that we don’t have scandals: we do. But we don’t have local politicians who publicly, grossly exploit them. Imagine Dr. Pan thinking it witty to insinuate that anti-vaxers wet their pants. Insane, right? Yet this is precisely what Senator Marco Rubio, a former candidate for president, said about Trump. You don’t hear these boy’s lavatory quips from Sacramento pols.
You will say this is all to the good, and it is, but you have to admit that this election year everyone is paying much more attention. A lot of people are aghast, others enjoying their outrage over the Trump/Cruz descent to gutter politics. Still more are enjoying Trump himself. I personally got the utmost delicious astonishment watching Rubio, a United States Senator, a member of the supposedly “greatest deliberative body on earth,” doing his remarkable pee-pee riff. It was fun to watch TV’s talking heads, normally so loquacious and knowing, go temporarily speechless.
But now they’re chattering again, this time decrying the spreading decline of American discourse and attributing it to the corrupting influences of Trump and Cruz. But there is no evidence that our local politicians have sunk into any new morass. Kevin McCarty doesn’t tweet weird taunts about other assembly members and our City Council reps remain civil and decorous. Friends from other cities say the same of their elected officials. This is not to suggest that they are all Unbought and Unbossed—far from it. But they do have good manners and exercise normal adult tweeting restraints.
The East Sacramento Republican electorate will make its choice in the June primary. My bet is they will go for Kasich. He is a traditional Republican, has besmirched no one’s wife, has not taunted, ‘liar, liar, wet pants on fire,’ to anyone, and has said the current insult fest is deplorable and not representative of his party. In this he is in accord with a Republican acquaintance who says, “These people are ruining the GOP. They’re too extreme, and Trump is vulgar and only just now became a Republican.” She’s right. But nobody knows how many new voters will register Republican in order to vote for Trump, or how many Democrats will cross over for him. (In fact, let’s walk back that Kasich prediction).
On another current issue, there is one thing on which all the aforementioned Republican candidates agree: they love that Second Amendment. Each swears he is resolved to defend it to the death. New Republican Trump repeatedly lauds it and insists that if Parisians carried guns they could have shot all those terrorists. Texan Cruz “loves” it and ‘will not let it be diminished by alarmist hand wringers’ (that would be me). And gentleman Kasich says he will never back down on it and proudly governs an open-carry state. Columnist Leonard Pitts from the Miami Herald points out that fifty thousand people signed a petition demanding the right to carry guns into the Republican Convention in Cleveland.
Now the Twitter-sphere is thrumming with he-man demands for guns at the convention. You’d think Trump and Cruz would be trying to out-shoot one another on this one. You’d think Trump would tweet, “Sissy Cruz hasn’t said what gun he’s bringing to the stadium,” and Cruz would tweet back, “I’m bringing my Uzi, Donald, and you’re in my cross hairs,” and Trump would re-tweet, “Bring it, girl, you girlish, girly girl,” and Cruz would re-tweet-tweet, “Those tiny hands of yours won’t fit around my bazooka, you dainty little tart.”
Again, imagine this happening in our mayor’s race. Yep, impossible. Steinberg and Ashby are not wimps, but their pointed exchanges are about issues. We’re going to have to vote based on how they present policy. This provides nowhere near the gossip we get from the puberty war between Trump and Cruz.
And speaking of hypocrites, here are the real responses of Trump and Cruz to the gun petition. Cruz says he will go along with what the Secret Service says (it says, naturally, No) and Trump wants to read “the fine print” of the 799 word petition before he decides. Now how much “fine print” exists in a three paragraph statement on a single piece of paper? Leonard Pitts again: “If, as Republicans argue, more guns equal greater safety, why shouldn’t convention-goers be armed? Wouldn’t this provide better protection for their candidates?” Pitts, aware of the satirical nature of the petition, notes the striking silence of the pro-gun party on this particular issue, and the unusual docility of Trump and Cruz. Could it be they’re afraid of being in a big room in Cleveland with thousands of angry, armed supporters? Nah, not these red-blooded guys. They know their safety increases with the number of guns in the hands of crazed partisans. They’re not afraid. It must be their wives. Their beautiful wives who are the loves of their lives. The delicate darlings are afraid. And, as we have learned, these men will do anything to protect their wives.
You’re simply not going to get comic drama like this in Sacramento. So, no, our discourse hasn’t gone completely tawdry. Some of our national bloviators have plunged to a new low level, but our local pols are providing the usual—thoughtful positions and cautious commentary, but not a nickel’s worth of entertainment.

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