What to Watch on Election Night

Who will win the election? If you haven’t been paying attention lately, well, good for you! But beyond that it’s all about Clinton at this point at the top of the ticket. As Barataria said many times, everything changed with the debates. People may not feel that they like Clinton, but the alternative is horrible in far too many ways. But this is far from what’s up on 8 November.

We also have the Senate, under Republican control with 54 seats going into the election – and 24 of the 34 up this year are held by Republicans, last elected in the big 2010 sweep. And let’s not forget the House, which hardly anyone thinks is in play except … well, Paul Ryan is more than a little nervous.

If you were thinking that election night might be boring with a Clinton landslide in the cards, think again. There is a lot to watch on election night if you know what you are looking for.

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Oil Finds a Range

One critical issue is absent in this election year. Well, actually all critical issues are absent, but that’s another point. This time around absolutely no one is talking about one thing that has dominated US politics since the early 1970s – the price of oil. Gasoline is cheap and everyone is happy.

Everyone, that is, except the oil and gas industry. The crash in oil prices in 2014 has confounded the business of drilling, baby, drilling and left oil prices if anything too low – a concern if your job is to make the bubblin’ crude come out of the ground.

It’s been a mystery since the crash just where oil prices will finally land. Today, however, most experts finally agree – we are probably right now in the range that oil will stay at for at least the next year, if not beyond. That’s great for the US, but terrible for other oil producing nations.

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Keep the Faith

CNN was on in the background, the sound turned off. It didn’t matter, however, because the heat of the discussion came through in vivid colors all the same. It’s all bad, it’s all hot, it’s all gonna burn down.

With the sound off and other distractions around me, however, it was easy to find some kind of hope. People passed by the noise and hardly registered it all in the hotel lobby. Life went on. Life will go on, once this nonsense is all over in a month. What will go down then?

The short answer is that America will be the same, but America will never be the same. Trump and his people more or less promised us all along that they would burn it all down and they will. We live in a different nation now, one which will have to reboot somehow from the ashes of what is left of civil discourse. Following a strong repudiation of Trump this might not be a bad thing.

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The response came as you might expect in a flurry of angry tweets, but it included a cynically combative ray of hope. “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

The Trump campaign has been compared many times in the past to a kind of fire – a dumpster fire, a tire fire, perhaps even a landfill fire. But with this great “stab in the back” by Republican leaders desperate to save their own skins there is little doubt the fire will indeed spread. Call it a funeral pyre, if you want, but eventually we can see it will ignite the highly flammable Republican panoply of Gods and Heroes alike.

We’ve seen such an epic blaze before – first in the stagecraft of Wagner and later made real through Hitler. Yes, we’ll go there. It’s all going there, all going ablaze.

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Over the Lines

Apparently, bragging about predatory sexual assault is over “the line”. I have been wondering where the line was for some time.

We all knew this election was going to get ugly. We all knew this was going to plumb the depths of personal attack and warped reality, straying far from the many things we need to work out as a people. We all knew that it was going to be sick, weird, and ultimately just unreal.

So here we are, adrift in that spot on the map labeled “Here be Dragons”. Taking a metaphor from Columbus Day, we’re in that terrible moment when there is no sign of land and just about anything can happen. Our biggest fear should be that we’ve seen this story before and we can only hope that it doesn’t wind up with new horrors far away from the civilized authorities – horrors like genocide, slavery, and plunder.

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This is a piece first run for the election eight years ago, and updated a bit for today.

Election Day is not a national holiday, at least not in the traditional sense. But it is the one day that our nation asks something from all of us, even if it’s just a few minutes. If you follow calle ocho through Little Havana in Miami on Election Day, you’ll see a long line houses with the red white and blue of US and Cuban flags stretching off into the horizon. Families sometimes come together across generations, as with any holiday, before they go off to vote. Cuban exiles in Miami are a people that know what it means to be free because freedom and good times are often best measured against their opposite.

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Ending Institutional Racism

My thesis is this: there is nothing more important to the future of our nation than ending racism, particularly institutional racism. This has become a desperate matter of survival for far too many people when it comes to the issue of police killings. These tragedies happen disproportionately to minorities largely because of racism.

Yet the problem goes far beyond that. There is not a single issue in this nation which does not ultimately become polarized and frozen by race. Much of the resistance to government intervention and assistance comes down to a belief that “They” are getting the benefits – the mysterious “other” that is easily blamed for everything. It prevents us from having a useful discussion about “Us”, a free and united people ready to tackle the changes of our world bravely and directly.

But let’s stay with police killings for a moment. Let’s talk about how we get from where we are to a world where no cringes in fear when the disco lights and sirens blare, a world where Black Lives Matter. Let’s talk about how complex issues with hardened battle lines are taken on so that we can get past the problem. Let’s talk about tactics, or how a battle is won.

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