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Caseythoughts It's the last column prior to Election Day, and elections make me giddy. Nervous and giddy. I was a junior in high school during that historic, traumatic and game-changing election process of 1968 and I was in it up to my young ears. Couldn't vote yet, but no one could ignore all of the earth-shaking and momentous events of that tragic year. In our high school mock electioneering I represented Eugene McCarthy (who was I supposed to like at that age?? Nixon?) and in a new high school as a senior I really rebelled (we had a lot of rebels in the Holy Name High School Forensics Club) and stood for Eldridge Cleaver.

Anyway, elections are in my blood and I can't remember more media focus and public interest in an 'off-year' election, when all of the past 'wisdom' might as well be thrown out the window. Everything we thought we knew about polls, prognostication and predictions is suspect, and quite possibly wrong. Before I get into a little 'thinking' about this year's polling, I just have to pass along a factoid from a book I just completed.

The book, Genghis Khan and The Making of the Modern World, written by Jack Weatherford, an anthropology professor at Minnesota's Manchester College. He's a self-proclaimed specialist in tribal peoples and I've got to say I learned a lot from this book, as well as discovered what misconceptions and downright false assumptions we have about Genghis Khan and his hordes, which, by the way, is a Mongol word.

The reason I mention this book in connection with our democratic franchise is that more than 200 years before Columbus even thought to sail westward, the Mongols actually had a rudimentary form of democracy and electioneering (not to mention freedom of worship, post offices and female emancipation, to name a few interesting civilized concepts that are real eye-openers considering the 'civility' which Europe was practicing at that time). Yes, I know the Greeks and Romans had 'elections', but the franchise was severely limited to a fraction of the population. When a Khan (leader) wanted to show his power, declare a war on another people, whatever, he would call a 'khuriltai' , a traditional council of the family tribes. Here, let me quote Professor Weatherford:

"...Families, lineages, and clans voted merely by showing up [sometimes from extended distances]. Their presence served as an official endorsement of ________ as Khan; not appearing counted as a vote against him. Merely attracting a quorum constituted a victory. On such an occasion, a list would usually be made and memorized as a form of election verification, but no tally survives..."

If there was a dispute between brothers, or families, or decisions of great import were to be made, the word went out to all the clans to come, gather and support the family claim. Since it could be days or weeks for all to gather, hunts, dances, games, cook-offs, etc. were all a part of the massive get-together.

I can almost see the invitations, making sure that everyone felt included, with promises of "How to clean blood from your husband's ceremonial garments", "Ten recipes for when an unexpected horde drops in for dinner", and "We'll supply the fried chicken and yak's milk, don't forget to bring your green bean casserole".

What a great way to vote for a leader. After a few days of festivities, hoping that no one was killed, everybody went home with gifts, new skills and lots of leftovers. I can hear the comedian Yakov Smirnov: 'What a country!'. We could do so badly, as I think of Steve Goodman's lament about American elections: "The winner is always someone else/ and the loser is always us...". I digress...

The Wall Street Journal headline read: "Poll Shows Enthusiasm for Election" and the numbers seem to bear that out. Now, I am not a fan of 'numbers' or polls, and that quote about 'three kinds of lies are lies, damned lies and statistics' has been attributed to Disraeli as well as Mark twain, which makes me think that the quote could be a lie, too). 68% (in an NBC/WSJ poll) of Republican voters and 72% of Democratic voters say they are 'very interested' in this election.

The problem with all of this is that it seems that polls these days may be skewed by what the polled person thinks is a logical answer but may have a different opinion or even behavior on the only day that it counts. Think of feeling disapproval for the answer, or the reaction of the pollster to an answer. Kind of like pre-season basketball or football polls: the only poll that counts is the final day standings, the last day of the season, not the first day. No one remembers polls the 'day after', except after our 2016 presidential election and we're still arguing about that one.

But let me get to the point. I'm going out on a limb by saying that the Kavenaugh hearing is 'yesterday's news' and will probably not have any weight as far as changing minds or votes. It has no traction as a vote determiner. Did it energize people? Yes, it may probably move many into the 'likely voter' column. Since mid-term elections rarely get more than 30-35% turnout on the whole, a record turnout is not a crystal ball prediction this year. It's going to be a barn-burner in turnout. Early voting trends indicate no less.

I will mention only one candidate in this column. Heidi Heitkamp, senator from North Dakota, is going down to a flaming defeat in my humble estimation. Trump took North Dakota handily in 2016, and she appears headed for a double digit defeat after her 'no' vote for Justice Kavanaugh. Just my prediction, here. And, I heartily applaud her for that vote, which I consider a real-life Profile in Courage. Knowing it would defeat her attempt for reelection, she voted 'No' on the nomination. I disagree with her vote, but I applaud and commend her guts for voting her conscience. May she hear applause as she closes up shop in Washington and goes home to some real people and a real life. That was courage, and reelection be damned. Can you name anyone else in Washington with that courage of conviction?

Now the only prediction I will make about next Tuesday. Anyone who predicts anything this election cycle should be examined for looseness of the brain.

Whoever (whichever?) party loses (and I guess 'loses' means taking or losing control of the House of Representatives, as defined by current political thinking) is in for the turmoil of this young 21st century. The party that 'loses' will be out for blood; the victims of the loss will be the moderates of the losing party. The crazy radicals of that 'losing' party will take over. If the Republicans lose their control of the House, their radicals will be out to scalp all the 'middle of the roaders' and those who urge moderation and bi-partisanship. If the Democrats do not bulldoze their way to leadership, they will blame it on their moderate wing and the radicals will be out for blood and a purge of reconcilers and bipartisans will begin.

One party will have no more moderates after this election. I know I have despised 'status quo' politics and might even be described as a 'bomb-thrower' (not a good term this past week or two) and admit I find comfort in saying 'a pox on both of your houses', but I predict we ain't seen nothin' yet. A purge of one of our dominant parties is a'coming, and I'll paraphrase Ben Franklin as I slink to the voting booth: "We have a republic, madam, if we can keep it."

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