Orion’s Legacy

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Step into the nighttime January chill, look to the stars, and if you are lucky, you will see him. Orion, upraised club in hand, stands proud in the northern sky. With him are his loyal hounds, Canis Major (the greater dog) and Canis Minor (the lesser dog), on the prowl for Lepus (the rabbit) and Taurus (the bull).

Constellations all, they are a celestial tribute to one of mankind’s most storied pastimes: the hunt.

Orion will be in the heavens always, as the mythology of ancient Rome and Greece goes. The gods immortalized him there after his tragic death — either at the sting of a lowly scorpion or the arrow of his would-be lover, Diana, the goddess of the hunt.

But as “the great hunter” looks down from his starry perch centuries after the demise of the mythical character he represents, he may be asking himself a question familiar to both the modern-day hunter and the animal-rights activist: “How long can the sacred tradition I represent survive in an age where some guy called ‘the butcher’ puts meat on much of the world’s table?”

A decline in popularity
Plenty of evidence suggests that hunting has lost its luster. The hunter-gatherer of old, typified by Esau of biblical times, is but a distant memory, and although subsistence hunting continues among native tribes in select pockets of the world, it is the exception to the rule. Most people who hunt today do so of choice, not of necessity.

Even the revered Euro-American practice of the sport hunt, either for a trophy on the wall and/or meat in the freezer, no longer attracts the interest it once did. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data released in September show that only 14.9 million Americans bought hunting licenses in 1997, a decline of some 2 percent from the 15.2 million licenses bought in 1996. Thirty-two states saw declines; 18 registered increases.


Quebec’s Never-ending Separatist Story

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Canada is in the news again — the U.S. news, that is — and for a familiar reason: rumblings of independence for Quebec. The explanation for this latest fascination of American journalists, whose interest in the politics of their northern neighbor tends to ebb and flow with the fortunes of Quebec separatists, is twofold.

First, there is the Aug. 20 ruling of Canada’s Supreme Court, which made two seemingly contradictory declarations about sovereignty: 1) Quebec cannot secede unilaterally; it must gain approval from the rest of Canada. And 2) if Quebeckers, by a “clear majority” in answer to a “clear question,” vote to become a separate nation, the rest of Canada must negotiate terms of separation with Quebec.

The other factor: Quebec will elect its next premier — either Parti Quebecois (PQ) leader and current Premier Lucien Bouchard or Liberal Party leader Jean Charest — Nov. 30. The Gazette, the English-language newspaper in Montreal, Quebec, has defined the contest as a “clear choice” for voters.

So is this truly the last hope for Quebeckers to make a clean break from Canada? Or is it just another chapter in a never-ending story?

A history of cultural tension
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien seems to believe this is the last chance. “The people of Quebec are fed up with [the issue],” he told a Sept. 23 gathering of U.S. and Canadian editorial writers in Ottawa, Ontario. “They don’t want a referendum. They realize that it is causing problems for the economy.”

But Alain Dubuc, editor in chief of the French-language newspaper La Presse in Montreal, is unconvinced. “You always have this kind of menace of another referendum,” he told a smaller gathering of editorial writers in Montreal earlier that same day.

In the middle is Preston Manning, leader of the Loyal Opposition Party. “At present, Quebeckers think they have two options,” he said at a breakfast the morning after Chretien spoke. “One is the status quo [of federation]. The separatists say the federation is not working well. … We believe in a third option. The concept of the reform of the federation as a third option is making progress.”

And so the debate over Quebec’s place within (or without) Canada, a nation of 10 provinces whose land mass makes it the second-largest country in the world, continues.

Strom Thurmond’s Write-in Senate Campaign

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Every election has its unimaginable upsets. This year, everyone is contemplating life in Minnesota under the leadership of Gov.-elect (and former professional wrestler) Jesse “The Body” Ventura. And his stunning Reform Party victory over establishment candidates triggers memories of another quirky Minnesotan: Sen. Paul Wellstone, a college professor who narrowly defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Rudy Boschwitz in 1990.

Not every upset requires an unconventional candidacy, though. In 1994, Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) snagged the honors as the year’s political David with his virtually unprecedented defeat of the then-Goliath of the House, Speaker Thomas S. Foley. Unlike Ventura and Wellstone, Nethercutt had earned his political stripes in the mainstream, working as a lawyer and congressional aide, and serving as a GOP county chairman.

As political gadflies go, 95-year-old Strom Thurmond (R-SC) falls somewhere between a Jesse Ventura and a George Nethercutt. He certainly has found his place in the establishment in four-plus decades of Senate service, but he has earned his place in history in part for his milestone 1954 electoral victory. Forty-four years ago this month, Thurmond became the first and only senator elected via a write-in candidacy.

From school teacher to presidential maverick
Thurmond’s legacy is that of a maverick. His penchant for bucking established norms first surfaced when he decided to enter the political arena in 1928. That year, the 27-year-old Thurmond, a school teacher and coach, competed in the Democratic primary against a distant in-law for the post of county school superintendent and won by 500-plus votes.

Thurmond continued his climb up the political ladder in 1932 with a state Senate victory, where he served until being elected as a U.S. Circuit Court judge in a 1937 special election. According to Thurmond biographer Nadine Cohodas, Thurmond saw the bench “as another stepping-stone” to his eventual goal — the governorship of South Carolina — and in 1947, he indeed became governor.

Segregation and racial discrimination against blacks had moved to the fore of national discourse by then. Thurmond was among the Southern leaders who defended the long-held Southern tradition of keeping blacks and whites separate, and he “embraced states’ rights as a defense against change,” Cohodas said in her book “Strom Thurmond & the Politics of Southern Change.”

President Harry S. Truman’s decision to push civil rights for blacks early in 1948 disenfranchised many Southern Democrats. Thurmond condemned Truman’s program as “an invasion of the right of self-government” and eventually bolted from the Democratic fold because of it. Thurmond joined the presidential race as a candidate for the States’ Rights Democrats, also known as the “Dixiecrats.” He won the Electoral College votes of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, nearly pushing the presidential battle between Truman and Republican Thomas E. Dewey to the House for a final decision.

Snapshots Of Campaign ’98

Originally published at IntellectualCapital.com
By K. Daniel Glover

Note to Larry: Consider me duly chastened.

Those of you who are out of the loop undoubtedly are a little confused by that introduction, so let me explain. Last week, I authored an essay on the potential message voters would be sending at the polls come Election Day. At the outset, I subtly ridiculed the “conventional wisdom” that elections mean anything — then I just as subtly became one of those hypocritical journalists who both mocks a particular mindset and yet succumbs to it. I became a dreaded pundit by proclaiming 1998 as “The Year of the Status Quo.”

But Larry, one of the first readers to post a comment on the bulletin board following my story, awakened me from my pundit-induced stupor. “Why do you columnists insist beyond reason on clearly phony ‘themes’ for national elections?” he asked. “I don’t vote to ‘send a message,’ nor do I know anyone who does vote that way. I choose my legislators, that’s all.”

Tales from the campaign crypt
Larry, in other words, adheres to the oft-cited belief of former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (D-MA) that “all politics is local.” And so do I. Sure, the unrelenting banter of Washington’s talking heads sometimes works to loosen my grip on electoral reality, but in my heart, I know that an election is not so much about the sum of its parts as it is about the parts alone.

To make a literary analogy: An election is not a novel; it is a collection of short stories. Each story has its own characters and plot twists unrelated to the others. It just so happens that many of the stories climax on the same day. With that analogy in mind, rather than try to make a novel out of a bunch of short stories, I will just share with you some of my favorite tales of Campaign 1998 and leave the IC analysis to my colleagues elsewhere in this week’s issue.

Everyone has heard the one about the “putzhead” (or is that two putzheads?) in New York and about the foul-mouthed Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Michigan who, among other things, has said his opponent is “at a minimum the result of miscegenation between human beings and barnyard animals.” The third-party gubernatorial bids of former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura in Minnesota (he won in the most stunning upset of the day, by the way) and Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis in New York also have garnered national press.