There are occasions when this devoutly agnostic person starts believing in the existence of God.
On these occasions, seemingly independent events become interwoven.
One of these occasions recently occurred.
Last Thursday, my wife and I had a most fantastic evening at Bellarmine University, watching a production of the national radio show, This I Believe. This show, with Bob Edwards as host, featured several provocative and passionate essays from current and former Louisvillians. Essays by Carol Besse and Djenita Pasic were especially rousing.
Ms. Besse wants (or wanted) an economic and social revolution in America. She was extremely frustrated with American body politic during the Bush years. Ms Besse transferred this frustration and passion into a fervent commitment to Barack Obama. Ms. Besse is now more hopeful and content with America’s direction. She observed that the tea-baggers are now the frustrated and passionate ones.
I viewed those last words of Ms. Besse with alarm. I have long believed that the political process is about passion. Candidates (like John Yarmuth and Bark Obama) who can stir people’s passions will normally win. Those politicians (like John McCain, and John Kerry) who do not invoke much passion in their supporters usually lose.
Lo and behold on Saturday past, I was watching Michael Barrone on CSPAN-3 talking about the all-important passion factor in political races. Mr. Barrone is the principal author of my favorite political reference, The Almanac of American Politics. This biennial almanac (I believe) is the best source regarding the American political scene and landscape.
When Mr. Barrone says that passion drives politics, I feel validated in believing that too. When he says that poll data are meaningless without a passion index (depth of support), everybody should listen. I tend to doubt the usefulness of polls concerning any 2010 race, because nobody knows what will stir the electorate that far in the future.
Today, two informed political observers (Joe Gerth, Courier-Journal and Jake Payne, Page OneKentucky) expressed their doubts about Dr. Rand Paul’s ability to win in Kentucky. Both suggest that Dr. Paul’s views (especially on social issues) are out-of-touch with those of Kentucky voters.
I do not share their conclusion that Rand Paul is too kooky to win in Kentucky. These doubts are not due to a belief that Kentuckians like kooky politicians; though, some of Kentucky’s favorite politicos have been mighty colorful.
Rather, I believe that Dr. Paul is getting a enthusiastic response from a sizeable segment of Kentucky voters. He seems attuned to their anger and angst.
Paul speaks to these voters' anger about big financial institutions’ making huge profits as the result of government aid. He also addresses these Kentuckians (justifiable) economic angst as the Federal Government is doing little to aid them. To these Kentuckians, talk of economic recovery is about as phony as Herbert Hoover’s tale of prosperity being around the corner.
I’m not saying that Dr. Rand Paul is going to be the next Junior Senator from Kentucky. Nobody can predict what is going to happen a year from now.
If the economy and the political passion index remains the same for the next 13 months, then Rand Paul might just be the 800-pound gorilla in this race.
Heck, I never thought Ronald Regan, with his far-out (for the 1960s) social and economic views, would prevail in California and then in the USA.
Political passions usually outweigh clear and logical thinking when voters go inside the voting booth. This I believe.