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‘Something’s Happening Here, What It is Ain’t Exactly Clear …’

GELFAND’S WORLD-- …I voted. 

It felt good – really good – and maybe that is the point of this column, aside from Mike Pence finding a way to be in the headlines. Will we soon be able to start writing “the long national nightmare is over” and mean it? (Photo above: Waiting in line to vote in Los Angeles.) 

I voted at the poll they set up in San Pedro on the first day it was open. There was no line and no waiting. It’s almost enough to make you feel guilty over the fact that millions of our fellow Americans are being subjected to clumsy attempts at voter suppression. 

But that suppression doesn’t seem to be working all that well. As the old song went, “Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. . . “ 

A very young Buffalo Springfield got it right back in 1967. 

As to that something that’s happening, let’s consider. 

For those of you who haven’t been holing up in a cave for the past couple of weeks, there is a quiet revolution going on right now involving early voting. Maybe all the frantic warnings about the corruptibility or fragility of the mail-in ballot system caught peoples’ ears, because they have been rushing to drop off their mail-in ballots as soon as a ballot box became available, and they have been lining up to vote in person where that became available. 

How big a revolution? Let’s look at a couple of numbers: 

Total votes in the 2016 presidential election:  136,669,276 

Total votes cast so far:   61,268,367 (and going up by the hour) 

This means that so far, we are at 45% of the 2016 total with more than a week remaining, and barely a couple of weeks since mailed ballots were first sent out. The bulk of early voters seem to be sending a message, and that message is simple and direct: We want our ballots to count. 

Most such voters aren’t going to have to worry about an intentionally slowed-down Post Office failing to turn in their ballots by election day. They are putting their ballots into ballot boxes, even if they have to drive clear across a county the size of an eastern state. 

In states like California where the policy is to collect ballots without discrimination, it is possible to check the status of your ballot online, just like you can do with a Fedex package. 

Let’s recall how Donald Trump’s crazy paranoid remarks and threats of just a few weeks ago got pundits and serious people all aquiver: 

We were all getting frantic over the threat that Donald Trump’s campaign would try to interfere with the counting of mailed-in ballots. The worry was particularly pronounced for the closest states, the ones that the pundits like to call “swing” states. I guess they are called by that terminology because they are close enough to swing from Democratic to Republican majority (or the other way around) from one election to the next. Down in Georgia and Texas (now, amazingly enough, swing states), people have been lining up since day 1 to assert their right to have a say in the next chapter of American democracy. 

One other item of interest. The young people have been turning in ballots. 

If you look at the numbers, they have already surpassed the 2016 winning margin in several swing states. The number in Texas is astonishing. Getting young voters out has always been desired, but has mostly been more wishful thinking than reality. Maybe this is the year. They certainly have reason enough. 

There’s a baseball series going on, in case you haven’t noticed 

That game on Saturday that went back and forth, one team leading and then the other, only to end on that massive choke – two errors on the same play and an absolutely ecstatic Rays team running around like they were toy airplanes – not my favorite experience in watching baseball, but you gotta admit, even as a Los Angeles born fan, that there was something crazily exciting about the whole event. 

So it was calming to watch a dull comeback game on Sunday, although it did have its tense moments too. 

One complication for me: I decided to do an at-home version of a tailgate party by stopping at Slavko’s here in San Pedro. Slavko’s started as an old-time poultry store back in the days when such things existed, and they still sell cooked chicken, potatoes, and mostaccioli. (Other stuff too, but this is what they are famous for.) So the Dodgers won, and I have to continue eating Slavko’s before the next game, just like you have to continue wearing that same jersey or pair of sox or whatever. 

I’m reminded of the bit that late night comedian Seth Meyers does, called “In my day.” He dresses up like Mr Rogers, puts an old corncob pipe in his mouth, and chatters on about what it was like when he was younger. It’s a bit that a lot of old-time Dodger fans were probably mouthing themselves, but without the satire. I mean, what’s with having to use 14 relief pitchers to get 5 batters out? (Perhaps I exaggerate.) The old time Dodgers would start Koufax and Drysdale and get 4 or 5 complete games, and the opposition were not bashing the ball all over the county. 

In my day . . . 

The new generation of players must be feasting on a juiced up baseball or are themselves juiced up on something. In my day, there were a lot of balls hit to the outfield, but they mostly didn’t go over the fence. They were just routine fly balls. Something’s happening here, although it is entertaining when your home team figures out how to hit. 

Addendum 

Fly-man – excuse me, Mike Pence – isn’t just boring. He’s now ascended to the status of prime jerk. In the primest of ironies, here is the supposed head of the Corona Virus task force, and five of his staff suddenly have it. But that isn’t enough. He plans to continue to fly around and campaign to crowds of people, knowing full well that he has been exposed. What a creep.

 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at amrep535@sbcglobal.net)

-cw