Serious question: Is California part of the same country as Maine, Illinois, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin?
In each of those states school districts have decided to cancel classes on Election Day. The reason? They all have polling places and they fear violence. Or more precisely, their parents fear violence during the voting.
They cite the firebombing of Republican headquarters in North Carolina and a BB gun attack on another GOP locale plus the campaign rhetoric to justify their fears that their children’s lives are in danger because mobs of crazed voters will descend on school campuses that have polling places on Nov. 8.
In California, the safest place to be on Election Day are polling places because you usually don’t find anybody there save for poll workers that tend to be a couple years beyond their radical youth or they are so young that they never knew a time when the University of California wasn’t the Cal Berkeley of the Central Valley.
Almost everybody, it seems, any more votes by mail in the Golden State.
Of course, this is laid back California.
And you want to know the real reason we’re laid back? Because we aren’t bombarded 24/7 by presidential candidates groveling for votes. The 240-year old archaism known as the Electoral College made California irrelevant in general election presidential races long before the world ever heard of Saturday Night Live.
I have friends that are fairly hardcore political types that live and work on the San Francisco Peninsula and the Los Angeles Basin that don’t get worked up frothing at the mouth about politics unless they are ranting about an epic traffic jam they got into because some rich bozo scheduled a fundraiser attended by the president or some other bigwig whose movements coincide with the afternoon commute.
We act as if we’d like to have presidential candidates spending more time in California to chase votes but is that what we really want?
Imagine during the primaries having a dozen or so candidates pandering for your vote 24/7 or getting the Full Monty of the general election by being in a swing state.
Would you really want Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump camped out on your front lawn exchanging niceties or – worse yet — the zealots that think either one of them is the devil incarnate?
But the mild hysteria behind the school closures goes even deeper.
Consider these two quotes from an Associated Press story:
u”There is a concern, just like at a concert, sporting event, or other public gathering, that we didn’t have 15 or 20 years ago. What if someone walks in a polling location with a backpack bomb or something?”
u”If you take the personalities away and cast the emotion with the election aside, one has to ask the question: ‘Are our schools the best place for that activity to take place’?”
The first comment was made by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The former comment was made by Eaton Public Schools Superintendent John Reinhart in Pennsylvania.
Given there are literally tens of thousands of polling places in this country to move them out of schools because one fears a terrorist bomber might target one of them is a bit over the top.
As for voting — the basic building block of a republic government built on democratic elections — not being a “good” activity to take place in a public school have we gone mad? One would assume being exposed to the process that gives every American a say in electing their leaders would be something that people charged with educating kids to be productive and responsible citizens would jump at the chance to provide.
What happened to teachable moments and standing up to tyrants including cowards that carry around bombs in backpacks?
Closing schools down simply because they are polling places and we fear reprisals for voting from some lunatic would bring a smile to the face of every terrorist committed to destroying America.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt nailed it in 1932 addressing the nation as he assumed the presidency while the country was slipping deeper into the grip of the Great Depression: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
If FDR were alive today he might want to add the words “and the hysteria cable news, talk radio, and social media whips up” to the end of his iconic line.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.