Opinion | We Don’t Know What Will Happen on Election Day, but We Do Know How We’ll Feel About It

Gail Collins: Well, Brett – it’s election week! Tell me the outcome you’re most hoping for and the one you’re most afraid of.

Brett Stephens: The idea of ​​Herschel Walker being elected as a United States senator is the political equivalent of EL James, author of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature: the former’s inordinate exaltation, the latter’s utter disdain. is equal to .

On the other hand, and despite my reservations about it, I am endorsing Lee Zelden for governor of New York. Our state is overtaxed, under-policed ​​and chronically mismanaged, and I would like to see it the other way around. And a Republican victory in New York could finally shock the Democratic Party into getting serious about crime and urban decline.

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Gail: Zeldin is scary. There are New York Republicans you can imagine running the state well, and New York Republicans who will inevitably create a mess of political polarization and stagnant services. Mr. Z is definitely in that category.

Brett: I’d be more inclined to agree with you about the overly Trumpy Zelden – until I consider his opposite, the uninspired, morally challenged and flawed Cathy Hochul.

Gail: In the category for my rooting, I’m going to bring up Senator Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire — just so I can mention her formidable opponent, Don Boldick. He has long been known as an opponent of legal protections for transgender people. Last week, she claimed schools were handing out litter boxes to help children who identify as cats. Which is, um … not true.

Who do you hate the most?

Brett: I’m with you on Hassan, a conscientious and bipartisan legislator. Who – I’m surprised to say – could lose on Tuesday. As for my most avoided? I’d have to go with Black Masters of Arizona. He makes me feel like Alan Rickman’s character in “Die Hard,” the love child of Ayn Rand and Hans Gruber.

Gail: I love it when you make sense about people like ol’ Black.

Brett: Indeed, this is perhaps unfair to Gruber, who had a twinkle in his eye that made his villains interesting and often funny. Masters is neither interesting nor funny, and his only talent seems to lie in sucking up rich people.

Gail: You may be referring to Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and Republican supporter.

Brett: And Donald Trump — assuming he’s really rich. Let me ask you a different question: Is there a Republican you can see yourself supporting this entire election cycle?

Gail: This goes back to the question I’ve been asking. wrestle with Since the world saw the Fetter Man Oz debate.

There are plenty of decent Republicans running for the Senate, and some who are smarter than their Democratic opponents. And at least one Republican who can debate a Democrat who is recovering from a stroke. But they all share one thing – they will vote immediately to bring their party to power.

Brett: they do so.

Gail: And that’s the big question this season – which party will be in charge? The partisan divide is so deep right now that you really have to decide where you want the show to go and let that be your guide.

Does this make sense to you?

Brett: Yes and no. I strongly sympathize with Trump’s passion to oppose anyone who belongs to the party. But the idea of ​​voting for your side, no matter how lousy the candidate, also explains how Republicans talk about voting for Trump, Walker, Boldick, Masters and the rest of the evil clown parade. Parties should not be rewarded by voters when they sink to the lowest common denominator.

But … predictions! Do you see any trouble coming?

Gail: When I worry about election results, my thoughts almost always turn to Arizona, which you can never tell from the land of voters. You’ve got Senator Mark Kelly neck and neck with the Black Masters. The only positive thing I can think of to say about Masters is that he has yet to express any deep concern about trash cans in public schools.

But Arizona’s scariest race is for governor, where Kerry Lake, a former TV anchor and current election denialist, appears to be leading Katie Hobbs, the responsible but kind of boring secretary of state. . Don’t want to imagine a vote counting crisis there in 2024 if Leake wins.

Brett: I’m going to project that Lake is going to win by a hand and Masters is going to win by a ball.

Gail: Aaauuughhhh.

Brett: Part of my overall prediction is that Democrats will wake up on Wednesday morning with a powerful urge to go to Canada or Belgium to take advantage of their authorized assisted suicide programs.

Gail: And what will be your own reaction, pray tell? I know you support the agenda of the Republican Senate in theory, but I have noticed that you find many Republican senators repugnant.

Brett: Again, very mixed feelings. It’s depressing and scary to watch the Republican Party go from bad to worse. But as long as Joe Biden is president, he won’t be able to do anything but embarrass himself.

If there’s any saving grace for me here, it’s that there’s little hope that a Republican majority in at least one house of Congress will hold back the spending. Our total national debt is $31 trillion and growing. And with the rise in interest rates, it will cost more to service.

Gail: I’m very pleased to hear you express confidence that the Republicans we’ve seen at the hustings this year will be able to come up with a smart plan to completely redo government spending.

Brett: Fair point.

Gail: My first response to the idea of ​​a sensible Republican spending policy is rueful laughter.

But I feel obliged to make at least one suggestion. The best way to deal with debt problems is not to cancel covid relief or stop fixing the country’s infrastructure. Tax those who can afford it, such as the pharmaceutical billionaires who have made a fortune out of the pandemic.

Brett: Not sure if these billionaires could pay back that many trillions in debt, even if we confiscated every penny they had.

Gail: That would be a start, and I doubt even a very harsh new tax plan would leave enough coins in their pockets to soldier on.

But speaking of good/bad government spending plans, what do you think about recent Republican calls to cut Social Security and Medicare entitlements?

Brett: The devil is in the details. Regarding social security, it was designed in the 1930s, when the average life expectancy was around 60. Now it is around 76. There is a program is predicted to happen Will be bankrupt in about 13 years if we don’t do something to change it. My basic view is that we should honor our promises to those who are now receiving Social Security, keep the promises made to younger workers, and eliminate them entirely for those who have just begun. Many decades have not passed.

How are you?

Gail: I say leave Social Security alone. It was intended to help protect Americans who reach retirement age, giving them a reliable cushion to make their old age comfortable or at least bearable. Can’t do much better than that.

The fact that it is seen as a plan for everyone—not just a program to help the poor—gives it a certain vitality. And on the fairness end, rich people who don’t need it will give a good chunk back when it’s taxed as part of their income.

Brett: True, but it’s still broken.

Gail: Of course, I’m not crazy enough to say that the government can never touch Social Security if its finances are truly shaky. I just want to make sure that whoever is doing the fixing is dedicated to protecting the core concept.

And Medicare – oh gosh, Brett, let’s save Medicare for next week. This could be a pacification mechanism for our next election.

Brett: Gail, I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but any thoughts on the news that Trump may announce his candidacy for president later this month?

Gail: Now this was the immediate post-election conversation I was dying to avoid. Of course we knew this was going to happen, but, gee, don’t you think he could have let us take a vacation?

Brett: I know very little about what’s going through Trump’s mind, but I think we can safely say that giving any of us a break isn’t high on his list of priorities.

The silver lining here is that if Democrats take the kind of electoral defeat I suspect they will on Tuesday, it should help focus their minds. It’s time for President Biden to abandon the idea — or indeed, that he’s going to run for re-election — and devote his time to protecting Ukrainians, Iranians, and Taiwanese from oppression as central to his presidential legacy. will do

Gail: I’m with you in the who-don’t-run camp.

Brett: It’s also time for party strategists to start thinking harder about how they lost the working-class vote and how they can win it back. Finally, it’s time for Democratic politicians to focus on middle-class fears about crime, education and inflation, not progressive obsessions with social justice and language policing.

who knows If we’re going to keep Trump at Mar-a-Lago, maybe this is just the wake-up call we all need.

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