Political Science Professor at Columbia University
The national stage is so littered by the bizarre assertions of brazen candidates that even the most thoughtful observers are confused at the prospective results of the 2010 election.
How do you explain an election in which major candidates are linked to Scientology or had dates on Satanic altars?
Yesterday's oddballs like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader pale in comparison to the menacing types personified by Rand Paul and Sharon Angle.
These new oddballs are extremist, ideological and usually uninformed. The policies they advocate are beyond the boundaries of mainstream politics.
For example, Paul, a well educated ideologue who has a good chance of becoming Kentucky's new senator, at one point questioned the federal authority for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, dangerously resurrecting a rationale for segregation from the junk heap of the nation's racist past.
Sharon Angle, who leads Harry Reid in pre-election polls, displayed her ignorance when she asserted that Sharia law, the sacred law of Islam, superceded the Constitution in Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas (a town that no longer exists). She even advocated terrorism by asserting that Second Amendment remedies (i.e. the right of citizens to use arms to end the tyranny of government) might be necessary if Harry Reid is reelected.
Others like Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party Senate candidate in Delaware, flout their lack of preparedness by avoiding press interviews and by their inability to deal with substantive issues. O'Donnell, for example, criticized the Supreme Court, but she could not identify any recent rulings with which she disagreed.
What can we expect if the new oddballs are elected? If you are wealthy and well-educated, the foreseeable future is likely to be bright. If you do not meet that description, you will have little to look forward to tomorrow or in the long run.
Rodolfo de la Garza, a Columbia University professor of Political Science, has studied immigration, political attitudes and voting for over 30 years. He directed the first national political survey of Latinos and has authored, co-authored and edited 18 books and more than 100 scholarly articles and reports on foreign policy, immigration and political attitudes and behavior.