Firefighters' guide to election season sanity

With the silly season in full dizzying swing, here's a look at some head scratchers, head slappers and some ways to keep your head screwed on straight


Yes, friends it's upon us again. It comes every four years without fail. No, not EMS recertification — it's a presidential election, of course. It's that magical time in which we all come together to decide who will be the leader of our great nation.

It's the time when political legends and lore are made. Nothing beats a good political campaign of mudslinging, dirty tricks, name calling, gerrymandering, straw hats, campaign buttons and the like. Who doesn't like straw hats?

Dewey defeats Truman. Florida teaches America how 'chads' hang. Red state, blue state, purple state, two state. The new Camelot. Tippecanoe and Tyler too! Win one for the Gipper.

And no self-respectin' candidate who's campaignin' — whether it's rainin' or shinin', mornin' or evenin' — will be gettin' caught dead usin' g's when speakin' to workin' folks in America's heartland.  

There will be nonstop interviews, sound bites, political yard signs, bumper stickers and endless phone spam. Why you might answer your phone in the middle of dinner to hear Barbara Bush on the line asking you to vote for her boy Jeb. Was that live or was it Memorex?

TV time
The news coverage is relentless. A candidate says something that causes a raucous and all the other candidates have to comment on what this person said about that.

There are televised debates, primaries, straw polls and caucuses. Caucus, what a strange word. Say it three times and you feel like you are calling birds.

This frenzied whirlwind culminates with election night news coverage. You get to hear my favorite news announcer line: "Let's get to those early election returns."

There's the rush to call states in favor of a certain candidate based on a certain percentage of counted votes from so many precincts reporting.

Last but far from least comes the Electoral College, which most people don't understand. Remember, you need 270 Electoral College votes to win. The 1876 presidential election of Rutherford B. "by the skin of my teeth" Hayes was one of the craziest elections in history.

Hayes didn't win the popular vote but won after some contested electoral votes were awarded to him. This was settled two days before his inauguration and some 50 years before the first punched chad.

Everything on Seabiscuit
The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2016 can't get here fast enough.

If you are thinking I am going to endorse a candidate, click the next article because it isn't happening. A now-retired fire chief once told me two things never to debate in the firehouse: religion and politics. Good advice.

If you were to list all the candidates right now it would look like the racing form. Some, you expect to be in the mix; some, you have never heard of. So how does this impact us?

I believe this is one of the most dangerous times to live that we have ever experienced. Having a person in charge who realizes the importance of our first responders is a must.

Earlier this year, the IAFF held a presidential forum for candidates to show their stuff relating to the fire service. IAFF identified two major areas of importance: collective bargaining protection and funding homeland security for public safety grants.

Several notable candidates did not attend IAFF's festivities. Hillary Clinton was addressing the United Nations and Jeb Bush had a scheduling conflict, however he did send a pre-recorded message.

Two others absent were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and our old friend Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey.

Knuckle down on unions
Gov. Walker, who has since packed up his campaign toys and gone home, has built quite the anti-labor reputation for himself. He recently signed into law a bill weakening the unions in Wisconsin, although in fairness he exempted police and firefighters.

He also caused quite the stir when he was asked how he would handle an Islamic terror organization. He replied if he could handle 100,000 protestors (many of whom were firefighters) in his home state, he could do it across the world. The comparison of firefighters to ISIS caused an uproar. He, of course, discounted the comparison.

And there's Chris Christie, the man who compared police, firefighters and teachers to thugs. He also said New Jersey teachers union members should be punched in the face. There's a great message to send to the youth.

"Teacher, how did you get a black eye? Did you fall?"

"No Johnny, the governor punched me!"

It fascinates me to see Chris Christie on Sundays in owner Jerry Jones' booth watching Dallas Cowboys games.

Looking at New Jersey, you could argue that those in the northern half of the state are New York Giants fans and those in the southern half are Philadelphia Eagles fans — we'll assume some underground pockets of New York Jets fans exist. Both are in the NFC and Dallas is the ultimate hated rival of all Eagles and many Giants fans.

Great hair
Now this in itself doesn't rank up there with immigration, economic issues or the value of cold-cocking kindergarten teachers, but his decision making prowess makes you wonder.

There isn't much information available on some of the candidates relating to public safety. Hillary Clinton was booed off the stage in New York City at the Paul McCartney concert after 9/11. I'm sure she remembers.

The wild card in all of this is of course "The Donald." Donald Trump makes a lot of news based on the things that come out of his mouth, including what he said about his rah-rah Trump pep rally in Phoenix.

He tweeted that day several times that he had anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 people in an auditorium rated for 4,200 people. He claimed the local officials broke the law.

The Phoenix Fire Department categorically says it didn't happen. I don't think Alan Brunacini was at the door in his Hawaiian shirt with a clicker, but I have to believe the PFD on this one.

OK, I'm retracting my previous statement about predicting the race, which was clearly taken out of context by my opponents. The tallest U.S. president was honest Abe Lincoln at 6 feet 4 inches. The shortest was James Madison at 5 feet 4 inches. I predict the next president will be somewhere in between these two extremes.

I'm Will Wyatt, and I approve of this message. Let me hear from you. 

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