Opinion

Something’s happening here … And pretending it isn’t won’t fix it

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A very long time ago, when I was a pup reporter at the old Philadelphia Bulletin, the paper across town was owned and run by Walter Annenberg. Now, I never cared for Annenberg’s politics. He was buddies with Nixon, who named him ambassador to England. And I didn’t care much for the loose ethics of his newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. (After he sold it, it became a great newspaper.) After all, his “investigative” reporter, a guy named Harry Karafin, went to jail for blackmailing people by not doing stories on them.

Annenberg comes to mind because one of the most entertaining things he did was attack his local columnist, Joe McGinniss. McGinness went on to a successful career writing books, the best known being the brilliant true-crime account “Fatal Vision.” But back when McGinniss was pumping out seven columns a week for the Inky, occasionally he’d anger Annenberg. And what would Annenberg do? He’d fire right back, publishing an editorial that dumped all over McGinniss.

What’s this got to do with anything?

Well, across the page from me is a column by my longtime friend and associate Kyle Melinn, whom I’ve known since he was a kid at MSU, before he became one of the state’s most prominent and respected political writers. One of the things I respect most about Kyle is I don’t know how he votes. When it comes to his chosen field, he’s as objective as it’s possible to get.

I respect him enough that I publish his column no matter what he says in it.

But that doesn’t mean I always agree with him. And I sure don’t today.

When he called me Tuesday morning to kick around his idea for a column —which was basically a plea for everyone to put aside their political differences at least long enough to actually solve some problems — I gave him my 2 cents’ worth. Really, a lot more than 2 cents. I agreed we have huge problems to tackle. I rambled on for a while about how I’ve never seen so much animosity, and I sympathized at trying to write anything on the eve of a wildly unpredictable election that will be worth reading after the voting is done. And then I said what I always say: “It’s your column.”

And now I say, “And you’re welcome to it.”

If you haven’t read it yet, stop reading mine and read it. Then come back.

Are you back?

OK, sure, as Kyle says, it’s not as bad here as it could be, by far. Ukraine is worse. Kenya is worse. And so on. Conceded.

But no blood in the streets? What was that little rumble at the Capitol on Jan. 6, aided and abetted by a man who just won’t go away, who is about to announce for president again? And whose main opposition for the Republican nod is a way smarter version of him, who created Election Police in Florida who are intimidating voters at government expense?

I’m at the same disadvantage as my friend Kyle was in writing a post-election column the day before the election. I don’t have a crystal ball either. But I’ll bet you that Republican election-deniers are going to do fine, or fine enough to be encouraged to keep on their path toward destroying American democracy.

Yes, you’re right, Kyle, tomorrow is not going to seem much different from yesterday when it comes to material things. But if Trumpism advances because of this election, as I expect it will, it’s going to be a little bit worse. A little bit worse, day by day, kinda like what happened with the climate … until it’s a lot worse. 

Your solution is to go to bat for what you believe in. Except some nut job might bat you over the head for what you believe in. Can’t happen here? Tell it to Paul Pelosi.

This isn’t politics as usual. Maybe the entire sky isn’t falling. But some of it is. The day after the election may not seem so different from the day before it. But I suggest you at least ought to start carrying an umbrella.

 

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