Both my daughters are taking a U.S. history course in school this year, and both were scheduled to take part in mock presidential debates before the hurricane forced cancellation of school the week before the election.
My children had many questions, which I tried to help answer. The No. 1 question was: Why Iowa gets to pick who the presidential candidates will be, and Ohio gets to pick the president? I didn't have an answer. I assumed it was in the Constitution someplace. Maybe it is in one of the later amendments. Maybe after the ones about Prohibition.
I read that the congressional races and the presidential races spent about $6 billion, and in the end, nobody really changed jobs. The number of Republicans in office remained about the same. The number of Democrats remained about the same. Same president, roughly same Congress. The country faces the same problems we had before last Tuesday. Even on the local level, we kept our exact same representatives. Every incumbent won. We are a very content group. They call Connecticut "the land of steady habits."
On the national stage, $6 billion is a lot of money. If every dollar was a Lego brick, you could circle the entire sate of Ohio over 100 times. If you took those same Lego bricks and started in the parking lot of the Pequot Library in Southport you could reach the Roberta Kuhn Center in Dubuque, Iowa -- where they have held caucuses -- and back 50 times.
Some groups estimate it would take about $10 billion to $12 billion to eliminate hunger in the U.S. We just spent $6 billion for pretty much nothing. I propose another constitutional amendment (after the Ohio one) that for every dollar individuals, unions or corporations give to a political candidate or political cause, they would have to give $2 to end hunger. That would solve some problems.
Full disclosure: My family and I have benefited, we got our piece of the $6 billion. I work for a sound-and-video company that does live events. I have met, and set up systems for both men who were vying for the White House, also all of our congressional delegation and their challengers.
The presidential candidates did not need to come to Connecticut for votes. We are not Buckeyes. We are proud Nutmeggers. They came for one reason -- to get money from our well-heeled neighbors to spend to Ohio. A small percentage of Nutmeg money stays here. Some even briefly passes through my pocket. Here is how it works.
Let's say my company works a fundraiser that raises $1 million (I have to pick an easy, round number). We get paid $10,000 for sound and a video conferencing for another fundraiser. Let's say I get 10 percent of that after taxes and other assorted numbers that whittle away my paycheck.
Let's say I get $600 dollars that I wouldn't have before. I could use it to fly to Iowa to visit relatives. But my wife reminds me that an orthodontic bill is due. I could give my hard-fought Connecticut dollars to Iowans and Ohioans or I could spend it to have extra teeth extracted from my child's mouth right here in Connecticut. The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes are already awash in our money. I remind myself that these are Connecticut grown teeth, strengthened by the fluoride in Connecticut water, removed by Connecticut's finest dentists.
In the end, I chose to create local jobs. Well-paying jobs devoted to the removal of children's surplus teeth. People right here in Connecticut can be secure in their jobs. I will not outsource the tightening of metal bands in my child's mouth. These might be the only real jobs these candidates created. And these jobs were created by them coming here to siphon off our money.
I explained all this to my children to prepare them for their U. S. history coursework. Actually, "explained" may be too soft a word. I stood up and pontificated. My wife accuses me of being angry and bitter.
I am not allowed to help with U.S. history anymore.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.