Every Vote Counts: The Landslide Poulos Saga

I grew up in the age of landslide national elections. It wasn’t until the 2000 Gore-Bush mishigas that I fully understood that every vote counts.

Lawrence O’Donnell has a post-election feature called The Winner’s Circle. Last week, he featured Chris Poulos who won his Nutmeg state race by one vote. Talk about a close shave.

Here’s the segment with Poulos and Senator Chris Murphy who held the same seat many years ago.

The reason I’m writing about this race should be obvious to my regular readers. Chris Poulos is not only a Democrat, he’s Greek American. If I didn’t write about Landslide Poulos my late father might come back and admonish me for not writing about our countryman.

Unlike Lou, I won’t claim cousinage, but there are both Poulos’ and Paulos’ in my gene pool. I’d be proud to claim Chris but that was Lou’s jam, not mine.

I will, however, repeat Lou’s standard line about Greek Americans who did well: “Chris Poulos is Greek. He’s doing very well you know.”

I was asked recently by a friend about my usage of the term “my countryman.” The MS Word spellchecker loathes it. It wants me to use compatriot.

Here’s why I use countryman or countrywoman instead of compatriot. I stole it from one of my favorite Tulane Law School professors, Thanassi Yiannopoulos who was known to one and all as Yippy.

Yippy died in 2017. As far as I know he was no relation to wingnut performance artist Milo. I certainly hope not. Yippy didn’t deserve that crypto Fascist creep as a relative as illustrated by this quote from his obit:

Yiannopoulos was born in 1928 in Thessaloniki in northern Greece. During World War II, he “suffered the ignominy of Fascist occupation, as well as famine,” he told Tyler Storms in a 2016 interview for the Louisiana Bar Journal.


“I was 15 when I joined the youth resistance movement against the Fascists. A German officer caught me painting resistance slogans on a wall in Aristotle Square, in the heart of Thessaloniki. When he attempted to arrest me, I unloaded my entire paint bucket on his face and, of course, ran for dear life!”

Yippy was a legend in Gret Stet legal circles as the man who revised the Civil Code. He was a stern but likeable presence in the classroom as I learned when I took his Civil Law Property class as a IL.

His wife Mirta was one of my classmates, so I had met Yippy before taking his class. He spoke Greek to me;  I informed him that all I could do in Greek was order in restaurants and swear. He raised his eyebrows and said: “As long as you don’t call me a malaka, we’ll be fine.”

Yippy knew the magic word.

Yippy was a firm believer in the Socratic method. He claimed to call on students at random via “the thunderbolt” which involved pointing a finger at the seating chart. I remain skeptical for reasons you’ll learn directly.

On my first day of class the “thunderbolt” finger landed on my name and Yippy called on me as follows: “And now for my countryman Mr. Athas.”

Yippy always had a Greek accent, but it was Greeker when he called on me. It happened at least once a week for the entire semester. It kept me on my toes, and I did well in the class.

And that’s why I use the term my countryman or countrywoman.

The last word goes to Mikis Theodorakis:


Leave a Reply