Down Memory Lane in the Blue, Blue State

I'm in a crazed state over the Massachusetts election.

We lived in the Bay State for 50 years; no, I can't believe it either. But Steve and I arrived as graduate students and, except for a brief period in Los Angeles, never left. It started out as home, and became alien territory--a place in which we were not wanted.

I came as a Michael Harrington social democrat, and Harrington told me to find Michael Walzer; he and his wife, Judy, became our closest friends. After our book, America in Black and White, came out, Walzer told a reporter for The American Prospect that he was afraid to read it. The man of ideas scared to read ideas that reportedly differed from his.

One pal recently drove through an intersection in suburban Wayland; on all four corners supporters held Scott Brown signs high, despite the freezing weather. Cars were honking in celebration.

We remember Ted Kennedy's 1962 election to fill out JFK's Senate term well. His Democratic primary challenger, Edward J. McCormack, Jr., memorably said, Teddy's candidacy would be a joke if his name were Edward Moore, rather than Edward Moore Kennedy. But most successful candidates--in my book--should have been a joke; alas, they weren't and aren't. In any case, Steve wrote a speech for Eddie McCormack; it didn't get him elected.

When we left the greater Cambridge fallout area two years ago and migrated to Virginia, we were well-known and heartily disliked by the Harvard chosen--although not by Steve's adoring students. But our car in a Harvard parking lot regularly prompted questions about a little American flag decal; it was a clear sign of disloyalty to the "right" values. The Harvard version of unpatriotic. We had long ceased to be invited to Harvard dinner parties. Steve had remained unfailingly polite and respectful; not me.

But every election night we had a tiny crowd of Republican intellectuals over to watch returns. Roughly 25 friends would come. And everyone who walked in the door would mutter some variation on the theme: OMG, you must have every Republican intellectual in the whole state here.

Harvard is undoubtedly unchanged, but my old friends from that tiny crowd tell me the atmosphere in much of the state the last few days has been nothing short of electrifying. One pal recently drove through an intersection in suburban Wayland; on all four corners supporters held Scott Brown signs high, despite the freezing weather. Cars were honking in celebration. Others have been drawing the same picture.

The other night a very dear friend described the sky in Massachusetts as dark with chickens coming home to roost.

Let's hope they land tonight in a very warm place.

Abigail Thernstrom is an adjunct scholar at AEI.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Wendy Miranda

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.