There's a whiff of something in the air. Just a whiff. Not fully smoke yet. Just a whiff.
(NOTE: For purposes of this column, the term "progressive" is used to convey someone (or more than one someone's) open to change, willing to accept new ideas/concepts and is generally someone on the positive side of things. But, not necessarily a Democrat.)
Now, back to "whiffing." Watching elections from school boards to governorships across the country, in recent weeks, there's a whiff of change in the air. Not monumental. Not sweeping. Just a whiff.
Progressives appear to be slowly coming back into favor with voters.
In our little Oregon burg, for example, last week's school board elections saw all local incumbents - progressives in nature - returned for new terms. In a county usually described as "conservative" politically. Similar outcomes in elections in other Oregon locales.
Higher up the political food chain, voters in Jacksonville, FL, elected a woman in the mayoralty race. A registered Democrat. First woman in history. First Dem in a long, long time. Ousted a Republican incumbent.
While hopeful, there's not enough evidence yet to indicate a trend. But, it's - well - hopeful. Just a whiff.
Our little school board contest, for example. Yep. The "good guys" won - the more "progressives." The slate of three "bad guys" was defeated. Challengers appeared to have some outside dollars behind them. Professional advertising and full color campaign materials.
Considerable spending. But, to no avail. Turns out voters weren't "buying" what the three were "selling."
If you've been paying attention nationally, over the last several months, progressives have been getting their noses under the right wing's tent. Just a bit. Here and there.
Those of us with gray hair - and long memories - harken back to the early to mid-fifties. Conservatism was in the air. Republicans were "in the saddle" most places and - while rejecting Barry Goldwater for President - the GOP was pretty much in charge.
Then, something happened. At a time when the ship-of-state was listing to the right, a guy named John Kennedy arrived on the scene. In fact, a whole bunch of Kennedys were making news.
And, with them, the nation began tilting to port. (Left, for you landlubbers.)
Things loosened considerably. Make that, a whole lot! The 60's were upon us. Woodstock, "joints," "free" love and tie-died shirts. Hippies were making news. And, America was having a real good time. Voters were saying, "Barry who?"
The nation we call our "homeland" has always tipped this way and that. Over the long haul, our progress has usually been more "steady-by-jerks" than smooth sailing. From our revolutionary beginnings to the 21st Century, we've always been shifting.
In our politics, we've slid from John-Birch-right to the Obama-left. And, back again. But always, over the long haul, we've rejected most national extremes, to find more comfort in the middle.
Now, elective offices in our country are under attack from the far right. At the moment, having given up on taking control of the nation from the top down, the hard right is trying to make inroads from the bottom up. They're attempting to get a foothold locally to begin a political climb to power.
But, it's not working in a lot of places.
Take Southwest Idaho, for example. Meridian-Caldwell-Nampa. From the western outskirts of Boise to the Oregon line, it's very conservative country. Very.
But, in those same communities, local governance is a lot more progressive than you might think. Conservative to progressive-lite more aptly describes the local office-holders rather than Republican or Democrat. While there are hard-right folks in some slots, there's also a progressive or two. Maybe even three or more.
As I said, it's a "whiff" at the moment. Not real "smoke." But, something's afoot.
Keep your nose in the air. And, as Radar used to say, "Wait for it."