By Colleen O'Connor
The results may not yet be known in this Thursday’s special election. In a place far removed from the saddened city of Manchester, U.K—that of Montana, U.S.A.
But, these two places are connected in subtle ways not yet revealed, but of probable massive historical import.
Yes, Montana conjures up images of the idyllic wild west of Calamity Jane (who worked there as a prostitute for a short time) and Jeannette Rankin (the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress).
While Manchester, the morning after a horrific terrorist attack, elicits sighs in the United States of “OMG, more insanity in a big foreign city.”
Yet, the ground is shifting; imperceptibly here, as it was literally in the U.K. last night.
Bookends, if you will—clutching an unpredictable political fault line—struggling to settle itself.
Montana may not produce an electoral earthquake by electing a Democrat to Congress in a Republican state that Clinton lost by 20 points. However, Thursday’s vote may be close enough—and the results confusing enough to prove what last nights’ terrorist event put in bold relief.
That is, a yearning for genuine, indisputably fine “leadership.”
As with most priceless values, “you know it when you see it,” even if you can’t adequately define it.
The Europeans just displayed those qualities in abundance. The video clips deserve watching.
Prime Minister Theresa May defined the attacks as “appalling, sickening, cowardice.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, surefootedly provided more than sisterly support: “I assure the people of Britain, Germany stands at your side.” Then called for a respectful moment of silence.
Perhaps, the finest example of honesty came from Ariana Grande, the pop star whose concert goers were attacked: She tweeted simply: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
Then cancelled the rest of her European tour indefinitely.
The American President Donald Trump’s response: “I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers, because that’s what they are. They’re losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers. Just remember that,” he said.
To quote Buffalo Springfield’s lyrics: “Something is happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”
Maybe it will become more clear after Montana votes. The state numbers less than 700,000 registered voters (San Diego’s Comic-Con probably draws more visitors), but boasts one of the best overall voter turnout rates (more than 70 percent).
The race shouldn’t even be close, yet crowds of over 10,000 showed up for a Bernie Sanders visit. And the guitar strumming, Stetson-hat wearing, gun-totting, Democratic candidate has raised over $5 million from more than 200,000 individuals.
The Republican candidate is matching those numbers and has already loaned his campaign $1 million while embracing Trump wholeheartedly.
As of May 18, 351,681 absentee ballots had been sent out, and 217,329 have been returned — meaning one-third of registered voters have already weighed in.”
And then there is this pair of under-reported, yet significant tremors:
“Approximately 30.0 percent of women in Montana have a bachelor’s degree or higher, an increase of about 7 percentage points since 2000.
Approximately 32.4 percent of those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in Montana are women, compared with 28.8 percent nationwide.
Meanwhile, Trump’s nationwide poll numbers are falling—even before before his budget cuts and the Congressional Budget Office scoring of the new Trump-sponsored health proposal arrives, which may cost many women dearly.
Perhaps, after Montana’s results are in, the next line of the Buffalo Springfield song might seem prophetic.
“It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.”
Was this attack, as the Washington Post reports, aimed specifically at the women in attendance at the concert?
After all, “Ariana Grande, the 23-year-old American megastar and self-styled “dangerous woman,” is famous for lyrics that seek to champion female power and routines that exalt the female body.
Perhaps women on both sides of the ocean will determine the future—in Montana, U.S.A., and Manchester, U.K.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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