How much more depressing can presidential politics in America get? The rough-and-tumble nature of political campaigns hit a new low, first with rude, crude, and lewd comments on a video tape, followed by threats by the same candidate to put his opponent in jail. No wonder the Republican Party leaders seem to be in disarray, to the point that some argue for a change at the top of the ticket at this very late date, only 27 days before Election Day.
For long-time observers of the political process, the sometimes raunchy nature of the 2016 presidential race is just one in a long list of quirky contests for the top job. The 1960 close race between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon still is the subject of debate; Richard Nixon’s first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in disgrace a little less than a year before Nixon did; Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller governed as their replacements without benefit of either being elected to the job. Most recently, there is the 2000 Bush-Gore race, in which Al Gore received more popular votes, but failed to get the requisite 268 Electoral College votes needed to win the Presidency.
That was the last constitutional crisis facing the presidential election. Although the political party structures have processes to select another candidate after the convention, there is no modern precedent for doing so. Ballots in nearly all states already have been printed, and early voting has started in 37 states, including here in Virginia. More than 3000 Fairfax County voters cast their ballots this past Saturday at satellite stations; a third more than the previous Saturday. It is estimated that 50 million people may vote absentee by Election Day, so a “do over” could create a constitutional crisis of unheralded proportions.
Most likely, the speculation of a change of candidates is just that – speculation. More likely, we will see continued bombastic comments and revelations until it all is settled, hopefully, by the election results on November 8. Michelle Obama was absolutely correct when she said “when they go low, we go high,” but it’s surely a struggle in the current atmosphere.
The last day to register to vote in Virginia is this Monday, October 17. Voter registration tables will be available at several Giant grocery stores on Saturday, and you also can check your registration online at www.vote.virginia.gov. Absentee in-person voting for Fairfax County residents continues at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, on Saturdays, October 15, 22, 29, and November 5, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Weekday voting begins on Monday, October 17, and continues through Friday, November 4, from 2 – 8 p.m. Register and Vote!
Pine Ridge Park in Annandale will be the site of a historic marker dedication, on Saturday at 1 p.m., for “The Pines,” remembering the legacy of a vibrant African-American community that grew up around Woodburn Road in the early 20th century. The event is open to the public.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]