Times change, even if election promises don’t


Like many readers of the paper, I get a lot of unsolicited email and unsolicited US mail. The mail, electronic or paper, usually falls into one of three categories.

Commercial: Buy, purchase, consume these products.

Charitable: Contribute, donate, give to a church, a college, a public media outlet, a humanitarian organization.

Political: Vote for or against this candidate or that ballot proposition.

A subset of the political correspondence is financial: Write a check to a candidate or organization. I routinely get the following from the Democratic Party: “You and only you Mr. Carey can save America from Donald Trump.” The prose pitch is accompanied by a photograph of Trump gesticulating wildly and snarling nastily. “Mr. Carey, can we put you down for $500? NOW!”

A couple of times a year I receive an email opportunity to meet “Loyal and trustworthy young women who live near you,” with a photo attached. The photo is of a smiling long-legged blonde in a tennis outfit. This loyal and trustworthy young woman leaves me deflated. I was probably 50 when she was born.

Smiling young blondes are not interested in a white-haired geezer unless he owns a private jet. I don’t own a Super Cub.

I collect the political mailers and flyers that come to my house in the mail or are left hanging on the door knob. I still have the first one I received in 1964 as a first-time voter. It’s a typed letter from Democratic Congressman Ralph Rivers .

Rep. Rivers is smiling in his photograph. Beneath him is a list of the bills he sponsored.

I was a college sophomore in Ithaca, New York, in 1964. I wondered how the Rivers campaign found me. I am now thinking a volunteer campaign combed through the list of voters who had requested absentee ballots and saw a registered Democrat.

In the 1960s, the legislative candidates sent out mailers, delivered door-hangers, that were plain, usually in black and white. The candidate was often depicted in action. That is, photographed on the phone or listening to a group of neighbors.

The text was typically generic. The candidate, readers learned, cared, listened, was tough on crime and believed our children are our most precious natural resource. The Democrats added that their team “Would get Alaska moving again.” That is, spend money . The Republicans promised to “Put a leash on BIG GOVERNMENT.” That is, not spend money.

My dad, Fabian, from time to time forwarded flyers he received. He would neatly write on them, “See what you are missing.” In retrospect, I think he meant, “See what I am missing — you.”

These days, I receive multicolored flyers covered with photographs, some of the candidate, the others of the Washington, DC, politicians the sender expects will terrify Alaska voters. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have their faces darkened, their jaws twisted, their eyes bulging out like deranged war criminals just sentenced to hang. The flyer tells me to “Stop the Leftists who threaten ALASKA!”

Gentle reader, let me break it to you: Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are conventional, even boring, Democrats. It’s not leftist to believe in government subsidized-child care.

As for our home state, there are not enough leftists in Alaska to fill an eight-by-twelve cabin on the banks of the Yukon.

A true leftist is someone who believes in overthrowing the government, seizing the means of production, blowing up banks, and putting capitalist malefactors up against the wall. These leftists are typically anarchists, and anarchists rarely obtain political power.

I did read about an exception recently. In 1936, at the opening of the Spanish Civil War, anarchists took over Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Their government — or lack of government — did not last long: It couldn’t. People needed government services that were regularly and routinely delivered. Fighting a war requires organization and discipline.

But the leftists could dream while they briefly ruled. Here’s what a small-town anarchist newspaper editor had to say: “In Fraga, you can throw bank notes into the street and no one will notice. Rockefeller, if you were to come to Fraga with your entire bank account you would not be able to buy a cup of coffee. Money, your God and your servant, has been abolished here and the people are happy.”

I don’t think I will live long enough to see an Alaska leftist running for office who, in his or her emails and flyers, pledges to abolish money. Maybe I will be surprised.

Michael Carey is an occasional columnist and the former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

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