English as She Is Spoke, and Why People Are Wrong So Often

By Marc Dion

September 4, 2020 4 min read

An old editor once told me, "If everyone believes it, it's probably wrong," which is why Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy lost a primary battle for Senate in Massachusetts. He lost to Ed Markey, a career politician who can't see himself in a mirror because most of him has vanished into a lifetime of incumbency.

And, of course, every self-appointed political expert I know was sure (and irate) that Kennedy, being a Kennedy, could not lose.

"It's Massachusetts," a Doberman-ish Trump supporter told me. "They'd elect the Kennedy dog."

And it was a beautiful thing to believe. It satisfied the urge humans have to believe that dark forces are arrayed against us, that all outcomes are predetermined, that conventional wisdom has great value and that only a huge conspiracy has kept you working in a warehouse for the last 14 years.

The nonelection of a Kennedy is a great thing to ignore, particularly if you are one of those who insisted that the fix was in, forever and ever amen, and that the people of Massachusetts, more of whom are named "Garcia" every year, are still the loyal, pick-swinging Irish of old, dwelling in city neighborhoods and taking the clay pipe out of their mouths only long enough to get in a rousing fistfight. The American Irish are suburban people now, holding off the Garcias from behind the thick walls of the neighborhood Target.

"Markey," of course, is not "Garcia," but there is damn little Gaelic color to Sen. Ed Markey, who, as I said, does not show up in a mirror, and not that often in the Senate.

Still, Kennedy's defeat has some value, if only to remind us that truths fade over time.

In terms of policy, the two men are as alike as you'd want them to be — if you wanted to vote for either one of them without having to make a decision about your ideals.

I wanted to see Kennedy win, not so much because of anything he said, but because of how he says things.

He's a little bit of a rabble-rouser, not ashamed to play upon your heartstrings with tales of the America he wants to leave to his children, and certainly a stinging critic of our Creamsicle-colored President, Donald J. Trump. When his voice drops a little (he should smoke cigars to hurry it along), he will be the one who can make and deliver phrases of the "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" variety. And he isn't afraid to speak up for the unscenic poor, something fewer and fewer politicians will do with any regularity. Even men and women elected out of chokingly poor districts are skittish about embracing the poor. Better to speak in favor of the new warehouse in the district, which will employ hundreds of people at a buck over the minimum wage.

I didn't think Kennedy would do much Marley won't do — though Kennedy would have appeared far more often on the Senate floor than Mirror Image Markey. But I thought Kennedy would have been a great and warning bullhorn for the poor, for the hopeless, for the unhygienic and for those whose best lives are lived between car repairs. Kennedy was a roaring counterpoint to "lock her up," and the other cheap chants and slurs that define politics in this country, when even our language comes from the dollar store.

Massachusetts will remain liberal with or without a Kennedy in office, but young Joseph P. Kennedy would have spoken to America. He already has. Markey will not.

To find out more about Marc Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America" is a collection of his best columns. It is available on Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, GooglePlay and iBooks.

Photo credit: skeeze at Pixabay

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