Thursday, January 31, 2008

Politics: More than Kissing Babies

One of the worst candidates I ever saw (that actually had a large number of supporters) ran for statewide office three times: as governor, US Senate, and governor. The state party chairman at the time decided that the man had a lot of money, so he made a perfect candidate. Because he would put in his own money? Well, no, he actually sapped all the resources that other candidates might have used. Well, he must have been an inspiring leader with great ideas of how to improve the state, right? Well, no, not really. He once went to a meeting of farmers and said, "So, is everyone here a farmer, or do you have real jobs?" Was he a man of high moral character that would attract people because of how well he demonstrated his values in life? No, he was on his fourth wife at the time - and the decision to run for office was apparently her idea.

I knew this man vicariously - my uncle had once worked for him. I had not heard much good about him. But I made up my mind in one simple moment. I was a teenager, but I certainly looked like I was of voting age (several people thought *I* was the candidate for office at political functions), and yet he walked right past me (and everyone else in a large group near the door) as if no one was there. Again, this was a large political meeting where a candidate comes to meet voters and garner support, and he was too busy to actually acknowledge the voters. That was, at least, until a camera turned on directly in front of me. He literally stopped, turned on a dime, and shot out a hand towards me, saying, "Hi, I'm [name omitted to avoid being sued by insanely wealthy jerk]."

I simply said, "I know who you are," and looked into his eyes. I saw no heart, no passion... I saw no soul. And instantly I knew, this man should never have run for office. I wouldn't elect a man with such a cold demeanor to county coroner. Yet this man gained the nomination in three separate elections - all of which he (obviously) lost. How did he manage to continue winning? Simple: the party leadership wanted him. I nearly quit the party over his candidacy, deciding politics was simply too disgusting to be involved in any more. Thankfully, I just took some time away from politics, thought long and hard about what was more important to me - my convictions or my disgust - and I decided to stick it out. I was definitely glad I did. It turned out that a large part of the party agreed with me, so they threw out the leaders that continued supporting the dead-eye never-winner, and replaced those leaders with men (and women) of vision. Four years after that last run for governor, the Republicans elected the first governor from their party since Reconstruction - the last Southern state to do so. Two years later, the State Senate became Republican. Two more years later, the State House became Republican, as did the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of State. They elected those representatives and senators despite the districts being structured by the Democrats to maximize Democratic areas and minimize Republican areas. They were so heinous in their attempts to gerrymander the districts, the districts got thrown out because they failed to follow the Civil Rights Act, requiring that all voters have equal say. The districts were changed only slightly from their gerrymandered form, though, and still the Democrats in this state lost. I was glad I stayed so I could help elect that governor, that lieutenant governor (first ever as a Republican), that Secretary of State, and the State Senator and Representative (in districts that were drawn to guarantee Democrats would win easily). I got to help the voice of the people of this state be heard. I even got quoted by the most well known Georgia political writer when I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that South Georgia would be where the governor was elected.


Julie Pippert said...

Hmm we need a sway over here, esp. thanks to DeLay's redistricting.

You should post your tips and tricks.

Robert said...

Will do, in the interest of good sportsmanship. Even though I've seen anything but fair play from the Georgia Democrats. I will write about some of their exploits here, too.