It’s hard to remember a campaign as terrible as the one currently before us.
In 2010 we had a race between a popular attorney general, Martha Coakley, and a backbenching state senator that once posed in Cosmo, Scott Brown. Coakley imploded in spectacular fashion and Brown did everything right and pulled off an upset for the ages. Later that year we watched Charlie Baker, Deval Patrick, and Tim Cahill slug it out in a three-way deathmatch for governor.
In 2012 we saw a race between a one time national Republican darling in Brown and a liberal icon in Elizabeth Warren. Both candidates were interesting, exciting, and could hold our attention for more than five minutes. They were two polarizing figures that everyone seemed to have an opinion on. The race was intense but in the end it was never that close. Of course that year a former governor from Massachusetts was challenging the sitting president of the United States for the most powerful office in the world, too.
In 2013 we have, quite possibly, the most lackluster statewide election in recent memory.
Congressman Ed Markey, a fossil that’s spent more time in Washington than I have on this planet, could not be more pedestrian in his candidacy and his campaign. His candidacy is as exciting as wallpaper. Markey gives the impression that he is genuinely annoyed that he actually has to run for the office he is seeking. Even when he’s trying to connect with people on the trail he appears detached and longing for the Beltway.
Businessman Gabriel Gomez, a young and possibly promising Massachusetts political figure in desperate need of some seasoning, often seems astoundingly canned in his public appearances. Gomez just looks lost a lot of the time and unsure of how to be a candidate for a major public office. The awkward usage of his valuable bilingual skills and Scott Brownesque flight jacket only adds to the pandering desperation of his candidacy.
Voter fatigue, something we are all suffering from, can often be overcome by interesting and dynamic candidates that have captivating messages, even one candidate with some combination of these things can energize a race but these two have neither. They’re dull, milquetoast, and bring little to the table in terms of fresh ideas.
The attempts by both campaigns to make this race appear close, for fundraising purposes or volunteer morale, are comically bad. Markey has had an all but commanding lead in this race since he won the Democratic primary.
Even the attacks from outside groups are tired and mailed in. This week voters across the Commonwealth received a mailer blasting Gomez for his time as a “Wall Street guy” and likened him to a Yankee fan. No, really. Take a look:
The injection of pro sports into our political campaigns has increased every cycle and it is now beyond patronizing. The insert of that mailer even includes a photo of Markey in an L.L. Bean style jacket with a Red Sox poster over his shoulder. I guess injecting a Bruins reference or two to make things more timely was a step too far.
This is truly the most depressing chart you will read all week:
This chart tells us how partisans are, generally, OK with a massive government surveillance program as long as their team is in the White House. It's not surprising as much as it is disturbing. The sudden outrage from Republicans and conservatives over a program that started during their watch appears driven more by their disdain for the Obama administration than a genuine support for civil liberties. The surge in support by Democrats for the government's monitoring of ALL OF OUR PHONE CALLS appears to be driven by their support for the president. It's almost as if these people really have no principles beyond beating their political opponents over the head with whatever the outrage of the day is.
These numbers were part of a broader poll on surveillance in America conducted by the Pew Research Center. A startling majority of Americans, 56 percent, approve of the tactics used by the NSA when it comes to monitoring phone calls. The public is more opposed to the tactics the NSA uses to monitor e-mail, possibly because nobody really talks on the phone anymore. Even more frightening is how little my generation cares about the this story.
Then there are the people that are truly scoundrels: the ones that defend institutions of power and authority no matter what. Matt Welch at Reason outlines all the people trying to tear down whistleblower Edward Snowden. It includes the usual suspects like do something authoritarian David Brooks, the New Yorker's Jeffery Toobin, and Richard Cohen.
...the massive machinery of American police power will be focused on making the renegade look like a maximally traitorous deviant. You do not have to pre-emptively declare Snowden a saint (indeed, we will almost certainly hear word that he is not), to be repelled by both the status quo he aims to challenge, and the enthusiasm with which Fourth Estaters enable the executive branch.
The scandal has brought together unusual pairings like Glenn Beck and Michael Moore , two media radicals unified in their praise of Snowden but not much else. More establishment types like Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham, two people that were on polar opposite ends of the gun control debate, have come together to heap scorn on Snowden and even demand he be face penalties for his actions.