• Doug Neckers

Senate ‘Wannabes’

A recent letter to the editor challenged “Blade writers” to look into and discuss the negative ads many candidates for the U.S. Senate are running these days -- something especially pertinent in Ohio, where a flock of contenders are vying for the open seat left by the retirement of U.S. Sen Paul Portman.


The author, who said he had multiple Republican friends who were smiling good guys who organized cookouts and fed the poor, wondered why a certain GOP candidate’s ads were so negative.


I don’t wonder about that at all. President Donald Trump was only the latest in a long line of politicians who found that attacking your opponents and knocking those in power is a tactic that reaches both voters and donors.


And it’s clear that the entire political establishments in both parties are only going to use the tactics that worked last time -- because that’s what their political science major aides study. But I do wonder whom these guys think they are fooling?


I particularly like the candidate who says that because he played on Kenyon football’s defensive line, he’d be strong against illegal immigrants crossing our border. I am not knocking Kenyon -- both my daughter and my money went there. I love the idea of small liberal arts colleges, and Kenyon is especially good. But football isn’t one of its strengths. The last time I looked the Kenyon Lords had an aggregate record of 10 wins and 50 losses over the last six or seven seasons.


Now I realize your average NFL lineman has more money than ever because of the Trump tax cuts in 2017, but that’s not doing much for Kenyon.


By the way, an immigration lawyer from Cleveland told me that immigration isn’t an issue in Ohio, and fewer than five percent of the voters cared. Now for the good news: I’m a chemist and a retired business owner and not a policy expert. But the way it looks to me, America is doing pretty well. We just need to find a wise person or two running for office who can see this and build on it. There are more jobs than people to fill them; retailers had a good holiday; the price of gasoline has been going down; and the stock market is usually up. Sure we have problems -- lots of them. True, Homer Plessy, of Plessy v Ferguson fame, has been finally pardoned by the Governor of Louisiana. But it is unlikely that he cares since he died in 1925. The reasons for his arrest in the first place -- boarding a whites-only car on a train -- still have some currency; there is indeed an inherent prejudice still afoot in America.


Toledo’s police chief was on the news recently saying his force is losing members because cities are too dangerous. We have just passed the first anniversary of the attempted insurrection that led to the desecration of the democracy’s highest monument -- the Capitol of the United States of America. Our schools, though I would argue they are pretty good, still come in for huge criticisms, some of which are valid. Our state universities could be a lot better, but they could be a lot worse too. Our main-line churches and synagogues are mostly losing members, even though their message still has enormous validity. But our worst problem today, by far, is the coronavirus. Stopping that is going to take martialing every medical and research tool we have, and then inventing more. It is also going to take a relook at who we are, who we believe, what we think is important, and how we talk to one another.


There are too many snake oil salesmen preaching to the people and too many people listening, as shown in the recent trial of Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos fame; the college dropout who suckered some of the most important people in the country to invest in her phony diagnostic business. She has now been convicted of four counts of criminal fraud.


There’s a moral here: Where human health is concerned, it’s time for the charlatans to be jailed, and the talking heads who don’t know what they are talking about to shut up. It is also time for us to demand an end to negative advertising; if we boycott those who use it, the candidates and their campaign managers will stop doing it. I hope the people are finally getting wise. Rob Portman was and is a wholly decent man. Whoever occupies his seat needs to live up to the standards he set, and those set by many Ohio senators before him.


It’s time to haul in our anchors and let the great disrupter go fish. After all, doesn’t Mar- a-Lago mean sea-to lake?


**

Douglas Neckers is an organic chemist, the McMaster distinguished professor emeritus, and the founder of the Center for Photochemical Sciences at Bowling Green State University. He is also a former board chair of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, N.Y.


Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash


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With Dr. Doug Neckers

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