I think this is the Patriots’ fault.
Seriously. During the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, the New England Patriots represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. There was plenty of craziness arising in the American political system during that time. However, it all seemed … manageable.
So this year? Our hometown team didn’t make it to the big game.
Then Iowa’s Democratic caucus process became a debacle. The State of the Union was marred by petty behavior, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up a copy of the address. And the impeachment saga reached its expected end, with attendant rage from those who wanted to see Trump trounced.
The world was a better place with the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation. Robert Kraft’s presence in the owner’s box probably would not have helped Iowa Democrats run a better caucus.
Apocryphally, there is an ancient Chinese curse that threatens, “may you live in interesting times.” We certainly are. And it will only get more “interesting” as we advance towards November’s election day.
For decades, Iowa was an island of quirky stability in our presidential election process. Campaigns would spend countless dollars chasing straw polls while candidates would eat fried things-on-a-stick in order to bolster their “regular person” credentials. Then, in early February, through a Byzantine process, the people of Iowa would have their “caucus” and give one — or maybe two — lucky candidates a big bounce in the media.
Obviously that didn’t quite happen this year. The state Democratic party contracted with “Shadow, Inc.” to build a mobile reporting platform. Which promptly failed when it was put into practice. That left the announcement of a winner in limbo, which quickly lost its allure in the face of additional news of the day.
The following evening saw Trump deliver his State of the Union. Regardless of what you think of the president, his policies, personality, or any other part, any objective observer would have to admit he has a knack for showmanship. Promoting the last surviving Tuskegee Airman to Brigadier General, reuniting a military family at the end of a deployment, or celebrating a young black girl receiving a scholarship to the school of her choice, they were touching moments and made great television.
Like any good show, there were also twists and heel turns. Rush Limbaugh was awarded the nation’s highest civilian medal and received it from the First Lady. The president appeared to ignore Pelosi’s outstretched hand at the outset; she responded by clearly destroying his prepared remarks on national television.
Then, in a move everyone saw coming, the U.S. Senate declined to remove the president from office. This unleashed red-hot rage in many Americans.
Interesting times, indeed.
In Maine, much of that rage has been focused on Sen. Susan Collins. Left-leaning activists spent weeks demanding she support witnesses during the impeachment trial. She ultimately decided to do so. That didn’t satisfy critics, because not enough Republicans joined her. The reality is that she was left in an impossible position; the camps were too divided, and she alone would not be able to change any outcomes. Yet, no matter what she did, some large group of people would be mad.
As we look ahead, Democrats and their allies will continue to be brutal in their attacks. They think there is blood in the water, and that this may finally be their chance to unseat someone who has stymied their electoral efforts since 1996. We will see whether they are successful.
Yet, when the world seems crazy, there is often a flight to stability. So I’m going to predict that Collins will be sent back to Washington by Mainers this fall. With luck, it will be coupled with the Patriots’ return to the Super Bowl.
At least some parts of our world can then get back to normal.