I was prepared to do so since I had arranged an unusual election night party. A couple weeks ago I sent our invitations to 40 families in our neighborhood and environs. I made no selection based on the family’s political proclivities. It was come one, come all. I promised beer, wine and all the goodies they could eat. I knew free food and booze would generate interest even if they were not all that interested in the election or watching the returns come in. However, as you will find out because of being without the Internet, this election article is a day late and a dollar short.
In total 42 people showed up. In our Great Room, There is a large flat screen TV and I brought out a similar TV from our bedroom. So on both sides of the Great Room about 60 feet apart, one TV was tuned to Fox and on the other side of the room the other TV was tuned to CNN. As I expected in our Republican town, the Fox TV had the most people watching but the difference was not as much as I had thought would happen.
I was afraid the two sides would not mingle much but there were a lot of people going back and forth. If one channel had not called a race yet, the people on one side of the room would gravitate to the other TV to see if that channel had called the race. There ended up being a lot of conversations with people asking other people about particular House, Senate and Governor races. What I learned was information was the currency of conversation.
By the time the many of the races were being called for winners, both TV’s suddenly went black. I was confused as were the guests. The power did not go out, just both TV’s simultaneously. I thought 2 TV’s don’t go bad at the same time. Most people stayed and talked (the power for free food and booze) But one couple decided to leave and quickly came back and said there was a wire down in the yard.
Everyone went out to look and sure enough a wire was cut in half about halfway from the street to where it connects to the house. The wire was the fiber optic cable carrying the Verizon signals for our phone, TV and internet. It was a rough cut, not a natural occurrence. The police thought it was done by a tree trimming saw on a pole. Since the Fiber optic cable and the electric cable look alike and are about 6 inches apart on their run from the street, the police thought someone just adverted a tragedy. Since the electric cable carries 600 amp service, if the person cut the wrong cable they would have been fried to a crisp even if the pole was wood.
In any event we have been out of TV, Phone and Internet until a few hours ago when Verizon replaced the entire fiber optic cable from the street to the house. The upshot of this attempt to localize Democracy was about 30- 32 people stayed and people using their phones to access the Internet were able to keep everyone up to date on the results as they came in. No one asked if the news came from Fox or CNN, they were just grateful for the news. Lots of real political discussions took place and I did not witness any angry encounters. Only one man got drunk and obnoxious but thankfully his wife fairly quickly ushered him home.
I would say the evening was pretty civil especially after the guests did not rely on their tribe’s megaphone, Fox or CNN because they were off the air. People actually had to talk to each other without relying on the soundbites gathered from their favorite TV channel. All in all, the evening was actually more interesting, not more important, than the election returns.