Primary Colors | HumorOutcasts

Primary Colors

May 18, 2016

Approaching Indiana’s May primary, I found myself full of double negatives: That is to say, I flipped a coin to determine who I least wanted to vote against. Maybe that’s not technically a double negative, but many of the candidates are.

While other states have their primaries earlier and earlier, Indiana stubbornly insists on doing what the rest of them should do: keep to a more reasonable date. If every state did that, maybe the election season could have a sane time frame, say less than a few freaking years. Starting the elections in January means starting the fund raising, campaigning and endless speculating around November 10th … November 10th of the previous election year.

The other day I caught an old Tonight Show clip of author Gore Vidal, who suggested elections be legally limited to 6-8 weeks. Even back then, somebody had the right idea.

So Indiana stuck to its guns and did the right thing, and in turn we get to get absolutely no say in who the parties pick as their presidential nominees. Usually. This year we mattered to a degree, as we did in the Clinton-Obama battle. That’s not the norm now, but Hoosiers will be stunned to learn their state used to matter in national elections.

No, seriously.

After the Civil War Indiana became a swing state, and often a deciding factor in the general election. The state echoed with rallies, parades, and speeches. Voter turnout?

You might want to sit down for this.

Voter turnout usually reached over 90%, and approached 100% in the elections of 1888 and 1896.

I told you to sit down.

Although outright fraud was surprisingly rare, it was common for party members to pay their supporters to vote, especially in rural areas. It wasn’t unheard of for them to pay supporters of the other side not to vote. Yes, alcohol was also involved.

Indiana became so important that, between 1880 and 1924, a Hoosier was a member of the ticket for one party or another in all but one of the general elections. 300,000 people came to hear future President Benjamin Harrison speak from his Indianapolis front porch during the 1888 campaign (a very nice front porch, I might add). Five Hoosiers have become Vice-President, although none since 1988.

Now it seems as if Indiana no longer attends Electoral College … or at least, we’re no longer head of the class.

Benjamin Harrison Home Indy

Benjamin Harrison’s Indianapolis home saw more politicking than a lobbyist’s yacht.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology. For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically. Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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8 Responses to Primary Colors

  1. Bill Y Ledden
    May 21, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Indiana will always be close to my heart even if The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wasn’t the best.

    • May 23, 2016 at 3:16 am

      I’ll improve things with my parody novel, Indiana Smith and the Crystal Mind F***

  2. May 19, 2016 at 7:28 am

    So much electoral intrigue in the Hoosier state!

    • May 20, 2016 at 1:33 am

      I’ve done a lot of research into Indiana history the last couple of years–some of the stuff that went on way back then is mind-blowing. And we’re the only state whose President died just a month after taking office!

  3. Bill Spencer
    May 19, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Spread the word: If you don’t elect to vote, you don’t vote to elect.

  4. May 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    How will Indiana pay its student loans, if it hasn’t finished college???? Great post, Mark.

    • May 19, 2016 at 2:01 am

      Let’s hope it finds some good jobs!

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