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.
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.