11 April 2016

Too bad I have to work for a living

I live in Albany, New York. For a few hours today the state capital was the center of American politics. Senator Sanders came to town this morning, while Donald Trump arrived in the evening. In between, Gov. Kasich passed through during a lightning tour that took him to Troy and Saratoga Springs as well. It's too bad that I work in Troy, and that I work an odd shift that made it impossible to see anybody, and that the announcements of Sanders and Trump's appearances came on too short notice for me to take the day off. It looks like a lot of people with time on their hands had fun today.

I saw this much: at 9:30 this morning I was walking up Washington Avenue toward my bus stop. Across the street, at the corner of Washington and Lark, is the Washington Avenue Armory, the Sanders venue. He was scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. and the doors were to open at 11 a.m. Ninety minutes before, the line stretched from Lark to the other end of the block, the corner of Washington and Dove, and then it turned, extending to Elk, the street parallel to Washington. I'd never seen that long a line outside the Armory before. I later learned that the line finally snaked around the entire block, and that something like 2,000 people had to be turned away, and that Sanders, to his credit, actually came out to address those people briefly. Sanders might well have filled the Times Union Center, the city's big sports and music venue, but I assume that Trump had spoken for it first, and that the staff didn't want to herd two huge political rallies in and out of the place in one day. In any event, the Trump show was just letting out as I was coming back into Albany at the end of my work day. People were streaming up Pearl Street and climbing the State Street hill for the bus stop. I saw an acquaintance of mine who'd been to both rallies -- outside in both cases, alas -- to cheer Sanders and jeer Trump. He was carrying a sign that read "Veterans Against Hate Speech," or words to that effect. It was crazy outside the arena, he told me, but he complimented the Albany police for keeping the protesters safe from those Trumpsters who wanted to protest their protest. It seems like a good time was had by all.

For the record, Hillary Clinton and Senator Cruz had already put in appearances in the region, far less spectacularly in both cases. Clinton was the first to show up and held her rally in Cohoes High School, across the river from Troy, on April 4. Cruz was even less conspicuous, holding his rally in a Christian academy gym in Scotia, Schenectady County, on April 7. He has momentum nationally now, but all indications are that he will do poorly in New York, running behind Kasich. The Texan will not be forgiven for his "New York values" crack of some months ago, even though many people here in Upstate (i.e. anywhere north of the metropolis) sympathize with his criticism. On the other side, in New York as in many places, Sanders has the people who go to rallies, but in the Empire State the people who go to vote -- and, more importantly, the people who get people to vote, are for their former Senator and First Lady. Some may say that New York isn't "white" enough to give Sanders another win, but I don't think the problem is that ethnic minorities dislike or ignore Sanders, but that ethnic voting here is well organized, and that the organizers are all for Clinton. Sanders continues to reach out -- I learned via coffeeshop eavesdropping that he was to meet with some Black Lives Matter types this morning -- but I suspect he remains hopelessly alienated from the party establishment types who actually get people out to vote, the types for whom Clinton's questioning of Sanders' Democratic credentials resonates. Current polls suggest that Clinton will win the state by at least ten points, but there remains time in both parties for strange things to happen, and we know they can this year. But as I'm an independent and can vote in neither primary, it's out of my hands. As with today's rallies, I'm on the outside watching from a distance, but in the case of the primaries I choose to keep my distance.

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