SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 7, 2012

Anderson: 'The alarm bells start to ring'

Barbara Anderson
The Salem News

---- — “Tuesday (Nov. 6) is one of the hot spots of the year; it’s the day of the U.S. presidential election and the day that Mercury reverses its direction ... an indication of a major wrench in the works. At the 2000 presidential election (Bush vs. Gore), Mercury was retrograde on the night of the election, and reversed itself the next day ... took 35 days before we knew who was the next president. If you fast-forward to this Tuesday at 6:04 p.m. EST, when Mercury is again on schedule to change direction, the alarm bells start to ring.”

— From Llewellyn’s 2012

Daily Planetary Guide

@text1:Every year, I buy my Planetary Guide at Salem’s Pyramid Books; one never knows when one might need some assistance understanding what’s happening in the universe. In this particular election year, astrology makes as much sense as anything else. Llewellyn isn’t telling me if Pisces Mitt Romney beats Leo Barack Obama, though.

As I write this column on Election Day, I’m not making any predictions, mostly because I don’t know anything. I’m ignoring all the polls; if I could make one change for the next election cycle, I’d abolish polling and focus groups, too. I’d make candidates run without anyone telling them how they are doing, so they might as well campaign on their real ideas and plans, regardless of how anyone is responding to them.

Two years ago, I was hoping for something definitive. However, the results were mixed: Nationally, the new tea party movement sent deficit hawks and reformers to Congress; here, we kept all the same congressmen, missed a chance to have Charlie Baker for our governor, but did elect some new pro-taxpayer legislators.

As for the presidency: I wrote then that I’d come to think the election of Barack Obama was a good thing. With the Republicans (before the tea party got their attention), we were heading down the slippery slope; with the Democrats, we went over the fiscal cliff. Election 2010: Time to bounce or go splat.

Well, we did neither, making this year’s election even more important; we are still falling, deeper into debt and moral confusion. I think we really need a definitive decision now. Voters, make up your mind today: big, unlimited government, for as long as it can last before the splat, or a bounce up toward limited, controlled, effective government.

On the way to this important election, I was distracted at the end of October by the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. There were two specials on WBGH that reminded me: I could have been dead for a long time now. This puts my current political concerns in perspective.

I was a freshman in college, at a small commonwealth campus of Penn State University, when the Soviet Union put nuclear missiles in Cuba and President John F. Kennedy ordered them removed. A television was set up on the stage of our auditorium so we could watch his speech, warning that America would respond in kind to any attack. My friends and I prepared to die in the nuclear explosion we’d been half-expecting since grade-school drills had us ducking under our desks when the teacher shouted the “bright flash!” warning.

That weekend, some of us decided that there was no point in waiting to have sex, while others remembered that the Catholic school exercise included saying a “perfect Act of Contrition” so we wouldn’t be incinerated with sin on our souls and go straight to hell.

Anyhow, the Russians backed off, and the world was saved for the moment; we went on with our lives, though the sense, not usually common in young people, that “life is very short and very uncertain” remained and perhaps explains, along with the Vietnam War, “the ’60s Revolution” that changed the American culture.

One of the television specials told a story I hadn’t heard before, about a Soviet submarine that almost launched a nuclear-tipped torpedo at us during the tense Cuban standoff. The sub was out of touch with its country but under orders to launch if a nuclear war had already begun; two of the three officers on board believed they were under attack. But three officers had to unanimously agree, and the young fleet commander, Vasili Arkhipov, refused to turn his launch key. One individual Russian, saving the world from possible nuclear holocaust. It’s an amazing drama, catch if it you can on PBS.

Most of us have seen the other side of the drama, usually from the point of view of those in the Kennedy White House. We now know that most of John Kennedy’s advisers wanted to attack the Soviet Union; instead, he reached out to his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev, with a compromise concerning U.S. missiles in Turkey.

I’d been too young to vote in the 1962 election. If a man with less self-assurance had become president, would the world have ended? There have been several “most important elections” in American history, including that of Ronald Reagan, who ended the Cold War. Today is another.

I voted for Reagan. And now will go to vote for Romney, and wait, hopefully not for 35 days, to see who won.

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Barbara Anderson is a Salem News columnist.