It was a night like any other when the phone rang. As usual I looked at the caller ID and groaned. With the next day being election day, there can be only one reason for this particular call. Thinking it might prove a simple reminder to vote, I answer the call.
Imagine my surprise when this individual wanted to invite me to a political convention on Saturday. My strict policy of never talking politics with this guy has left him with the misguided delusion that I not only claim a party, but that party is of course Republican.
Don’t get me wrong, I keep up on politics. When you live this close to the nation’s capitol, it is hard not to. It just goes with the territory. You vote them in and I get to deal with them as neighbours. (Thanks a lot, by the way. You’ve sent some real wankers to my backyard!) I vote in every election, I follow the issues, I follow the candidates. I attempt to make myself as informed as I possibly can before entering the polls.
What I do not do is claim a party. Why? I personally despise both major parties. Neither do anything positive for the face of politics any more. They are too busy acting like children and bickering to accomplish any real work. And when something goes awry? The finger pointing starts. “But, but, but Mommy, really it was them! They did it all!” Guess what, there is plenty enough blame to go around on The Hill. Suck it up.
In my voting history I have voted for Republicans, I have voted for Democrats, I have voted for members of other parties as well. I am proud of my fence sitting and make no bones about it. I only claim a party when forced to by our poorly put together primary system. Believe you me, I let my dissatisfaction over that be well known at the time.
That said, I am sure you understand my surprise, and the fierce internal debate that followed me for the next week. I ended up going, and while I do not regret it, I wish I could have also attended the Democratic one to be completely fair to both parties. They were, unfortunately, on the same day.
Let the justification begin! As anytime when you decide to do something that goes against your moral fiber, such as selling your soul, you find the need to make up reasons why your decision is sound. The Republican convention was only half an hour from my home, while the democratic one was a three hour drive one way. The Republicans had 11 candidates to choose from, thus making it a far more interesting process than choosing between the Democrats piddly two candidates. The educational experience for my children and foreign exchange student would likely never come up again! The photo op of our likely next congressman gave my camera chills.
These are all good reasons to sell my soul, right?
Yet, I still sat up at night, worrying. Afraid. Now I would be On Their Radar. Would men and women dressed in Republican Red hunt me down in the middle of the night? Drag me off to do scary Republican party affiliated things I don’t want to know about? Would the NRA find me and try to slap a gun in my hand? Would I find myself forced to throw paint at people entering abortion clinics? The horror! The terror! I guess time will only tell. Perhaps I will vote Democrat in the Primaries in February so the two can attack each other before finding my doorstep.
Saturday came far too fast. I entered the doors of Caroline County High School and I swear I heard a dirge in the background. Those greeting me were none too pleasant, either. And the heat, my goodness, the heat. So many bodies packed into one small gym about broke the school’s ancient air conditioning. Or so they would have you believe. I wonder if it was something more nefarious, personally.
I peek in the gym, after having a distasteful conversation with the registration woman. Rudeness from her left my husband itching to just inform her we’d go now and see if the Democrats would take us. Considering how many people are party switching these days, you would think these people would consider the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Woman, if I ever see you again, you will be getting a piece of my mind.
Things eventually got smoothed out, we received our delegate badges, and sat down for the circus. The gym, filled with people holding signs for their favourite among the eleven, roared with noise. Bleacher seats were just as uncomfortable as I remember from high school long ago. Boy, did it seem more like high school with the pep rally feel of people chanting, cheering, and bantering. I found myself sorely tempted to yell out, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do!” Something tells me the people on the other side would have responded. My group of people ended up actually doing the wave holding signs.
Save. Me. Now.
So what exactly happened? After the time traveling back to high school, that is? A whole lot of nothing, actually. Eleven hours of craziness. Yes, that’s right, you did not read wrong. Eleven Hours. After everyone’s credentials were checked out by, well I don’t know who by, the shindig began. First we heard from all eleven candidates, most of which had at least one if not two people to introduce them. Then, each locality separated to their caucus rooms to vote. There’s a word I never imagined using after my twelfth grade US Government class. Trudging down the bleachers in heels to find my way to the auditorium was delightful, let me tell you.
Heels? In a high school gym? Yes, I did. It was the Republicans for crying out loud. I made myself put on a bra for this thing. I did however flat out refuse to put on pantyhose. God can’t get me to put on a pair of nylons for Church on Sunday, there is no way the Republicans will. I’ll dress up and look conservative, but baby, I’m a rebel! Watch out!
The first time was bad enough. Trudge down crowded bleachers while attempting to maintain your balance, shove your way through the masses milling about on the basketball court, drop into a seat in the auditorium. Scrawl a name onto a ballot. Make your way back to the gym and attempt to secure a seat closer to the bottom of the bleachers. How I hoped and prayed that we could knock half the candidates out with that one vote.
We lost four. Those four gave their parting speeches. One gave his support to another candidate, the widower who’s wife held the seat we needed to fill. That’s right, our congresswoman died so her husband felt he should attempt to fill her seat. The person throwing support to him was beyond sympathetic to the poor man’s grieving. Where are the Kleenex when you need them?
Then, we voted once more. And again. We picked off candidates one at a time then. After the fifth vote, we were left with three. That was when the widower finally lost his bid. He gave the most touching speech of gratitude. I sincerely hope he found some closure that day and am glad he can now grieve for his wife properly. In an interesting turn of events, he cast his endorsement to… not the front runner but to the person in a not very close second. Then, in a more interesting turn of events, the third candidate left stood and removed himself from the running. He also threw his endorsement to number two.
Up until this point, I felt strongly that this one candidate, Jost, would take the ticket. He pulled into a strong lead with the first vote and kept climbing after that. The only man left at this point was Wittman, who had held at fourth place before suddenly jumping to second. Even though his numbers drastically changed, he was still quite a bit behind in number of votes. However with the final two candidates dropped casting their support in his favour, there was a strong chance he could take the ticket.
How did I feel about this? By this point, I had talked with virtually every candidate there one on one. I did not like Jost. In fact, there are not words strong enough to express my dislike of this candidate. Even worse, one of the other candidates that cast his endorsement to Jost, did so saying that he felt Jost was the most conservative of the candidates. By all means, I do not want that! I believe Wittman has some hair brained ideas, but I definitely liked him most of all the candidates. Plus, he’s in the known on all things homeschooling.
At this point, with it being a race between Jost and Wittman only, they both got to speak once more. Oh goodie, more speaking. Wittman, being the intelligent individual he is, realized he had this in the bag. His speech was short, sweet, and to the point of mostly thanking people. He ended early and got off that stage as fast as he could so as not to rock the boat any. And then we were left with Jost.
What did Jost do? He turned my stomach. He had people introduce him, again, and then he went up. Instead of saying what he believed or what made him feel he would do well, he blasted Wittman. Smear campaigns start early, what can I say. If there had been any chance of my voting for Jost, it was lost right there. Wittman could strip naked and run around the gym screaming obscenities and I would vote for Wittman just as a statement that I am sick and tired of political campaigns based on what the other guy does wrong. Lucky for all of us, that did not happen!
Wittman took the ticket. They never told us by how many votes, and that upsets the curious journalist hiding inside of me.
So, after eleven hours and six votes we had a Republican candidate. One I can feel semi-OK with, considering we tend to be a republican leaning district. I hear the Democrats were done in an hour, oh how nice that would have been.
Now, I have a month to investigate the guy running on the Democratic ticket. Wonder if he’ll come here so I can get some face time with him as well?
I do not regret going. It was an interesting process, a glimpse into just what goes on to bring the people a candidate to vote on. I do still stay up late, wondering if the Republicans are going to get me. Will they find me in my sleep? What will happen if I choose the other party in the primaries? How far will the political parties go to keep me on their side?
Some people are afraid of the bogeyman, the dark, spiders. I am afraid of the political system at large.
So that is how I sold my soul to the Republican party. An effort I hoped would lead to a candidate I could at least stomach. I do not feel real guilty. At some point they will come to collect…
Won’t they be disappointed to realize I already sold my soul to my writing via LJ-Idol and NaNoWriMo? Perhaps in the ensuing battle for my soul, I can escape!
Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com