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If You Ask Me

As we sadly shuffle along to 2016’s Election Day

As the new musical, “Shuffle Along,” opens, a narrator explains we will be treated to the wonderful music and dancing of the original 1921 production and the story of the struggle to bring what would be the first all-black show to Broadway 95 years ago.

He adds that the 1921 storyline about an election battle between two dishonest politicians nobody likes has been dropped. The audience, picking up on the oh-so-contemporary reference, roars with laughter.

The best outsider who never became a U.S. president

On May 8, 1940, 76 years ago this Sunday, a Gallup poll revealed that gang-busting prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey continued to dominate a long list of Republican candidates for president and appeared to have the nomination all but won. Not bad for a 38-year-old whose only election had been in 1935 when he became Manhattan district attorney and proceeded to prosecute a bunch of notable crooks.

Consider these six outsider presidents, including a good one

With the prospect of having a president who’s never been elected to anything looming menacingly over the land, we can take the slightest bit of comfort in knowing it’s happened before — six times — and one of the six even turned out to be a good president. The rest varied from not so good to terrible.

The last time the GOP courted disaster

With the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan looking more and more like the party of Goldwater, recalling that chaotic time can be instructive.

It was 52 years ago, back in 1964, when the GOP establishment, then called the eastern liberal wing, last went into an election fearing that an ultraconservative standard bearer would be crushed by the voters.

And boy, was he.

GOP learned nothing from its analysis of 2012 defeat

“We need to campaign among Hispanics, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them too,” said the Republican National Committee in its much-discussed “Growth and Opportunity Report.” Also known as the Republican autopsy, the report was issued after the defeat of Mitt Romney in 2013.

So, the autopsy should really be helping in 2016, right? Well, not quite.

CT GOP US senator still unlikely

It’s been 34 years since the Connecticut Republican Party last elected a Republican from Connecticut to the United States Senate; 60 years since it elected one it liked.

In fact, when Lowell Weicker decided to run for a third Senate term in 1982, party conservatives disliked him enough to get the brother of Reagan Vice President George H.W. Bush to challenge him. 

Study: Connecticut is not a very religious state

According to a study published before Easter, Connecticut is the fifth least religious state in the Union or, if you prefer to look from the top down, Connecticut is the 47th most religious of the 50 states, due to some ties further down the list. 

Can this be happening here?

The day before the ISIS attack in Belgium, Donald Trump called for the United States to reduce its support of the Belgium-based North Atlantic Treaty Organization during a discussion in which he devoted equal time to boasting about the size of his hands and one other appendage.

They won’t let me vote against Trump next month

I didn’t think it was right to register with a political party during the years I worked as a journalist, and I stayed away from a formal relationship with the Democrats or Republicans until 2000.

H.L. Mencken anticipated Trump

What are we to make of the rise of Donald Trump, the vulgarian who successfully courts the basest instincts of the electorate and may become the nominee of a once-great political party — or even president? 

As I often do, I turned for wisdom and inspiration to my favorite political chronicler of an earlier time, H.L. Mencken, who memorably observed that “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” And H.L. Mencken never knew D.J. Trump.