“Unbelievable, that the old Biff could have chosen that particular date. It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.” Dr. Emmett Brown – Back to the Future II
As sequels go, the second installment of Back to the Future was passable. The movie moved fluidly between the same group of characters in 1955, 1985 and 2015 (incidentally I’m still waiting for my hoverboard). The problem was that Marty’s arch-enemy Biff steals the time machine and travels back to 1955 and presents his younger self with a magazine containing the sporting event winners of nearly half a century. This of course changes the fabric of time and Marty has to save the day by traveling back from the future and into the past to wrestle the offending magazine away from Biff.
This may well be the first sequel I’ve ever done. The first installment was a rift on the original Back to the Future about nine months ago when Bernie Sanders was just starting to seriously grumble about running for President of the United States. That grumble has turned into a full throated roar. Unfortunately the mainstream press has continued to discount the juggernaut that is Bernie and has continually dismissed his chances of winning. Famed former New York Times political pundit Nate Silver puts Sanders chances of winning at 1 in 20. USA Today puts those odds a little higher at 1 in 14. And Nate Cohn of the New York Times thinks that Bernie’s support is uneven across the U.S.
But we here in Vermont know something they don’t know. Bernie is a singularity that cannot be reduced to a data set. This is particularly true in the world of politics where there are so many different variables at play. One variable at work here that nobody seems to have really explored with much depth, is what happens if Donald Trump decides he is going to run for President as an Independent?
What very few people know, especially reporters from out-state-state, is that Bernie won his very first election in part because of spoiler. That spoiler’s name is Richard “Dick” Bove of Burlington tomato sauce/Italian restaurant fame. And the narrative goes something like this. The old guard Burlington Democrats lead by Mayor Gordon “Gordy” Paquette were engaged in a major urban renewal project in Burlington in the late 1970s. This eventually lead to the destruction of dozens of tenement houses, owned largely by Italian families. The Italian neighborhood was razed, their land taken by eminent domain and many of the families were relocated to what is now known as Burlington’s New North End (which is one reason for some lingering animus against Democrats in that part of town). This is where the Hilton and Macy’s now stand.
One of the leaders of the backlash of the Italian community was Dick Bove. As a result, Dick ran in the 1981 mayoral election, the same one that put Bernie Sanders on his current trajectory. Now the official Sanders election’s result page on Wikipedia doesn’t even mention Dick Bove and simply says that Sanders received 4,330 and Paquette received 4,320. That would represent 43.43% and 43.32% respectively, so what happened to the approximately remaining 13% of the vote. Well besides Mickey Mouse and Superman, Dick Bove received 1,091 votes or 11.76%. That’s a hell of a lot of votes in a race that was won by only 10. Dick was the spoiler for Gordy Paquette and may ultimately be the catalyst for Bernie’s election to POTUS. Dick Bove of course holds a special place in my own heart, because he almost became the spoiler in the first City Council election that I won in 2007.
Getting back to Bernie and The Donald. If Trump does decide to run as an Independent, history may indeed again decide to repeat itself, albeit this time on a much grander scale. Ultimately, we’ll have to go Back to the Future to figure it all out….