Monday, January 23, 2006

Suldog For State Rep, Part VI

Here's where you can find the previous entries: I, II, III, IV,
and V. If you just don't give a damn about this history, then you could go here and ask that this blog be included.

My posters were in place on the trolleys, my pamphlets were printed, we had had as many strategy meetings as we could find a reasonable excuse for (these were also dinners, so that made them more fun), and I had exhausted all possibilities of garnering free publicity via trying to interest PACs, newspapers, DJs, etc., in the importance of my running against someone whom it appeared I had very little realistic chance of beating.

I received a couple of invitations to speak at functions. One was the MassCann rally on the Boston Common. This is an annual event wherein those interested in changing the marijuana laws (and those interested in just blowing some dope) gather together on the Common to hear speeches, listen to a few bands, visit the various activist booths, and otherwise pretend to be making a difference.

That's snarky, but not wholly unjustified. The event has grown considerably over the years, but the composition of the crowd is perhaps 10% folks who really are trying to affect change and 90% folks who just want an excuse to smoke a bone in public. While the organizers are extremely sincere and hard-working, and they do try to use the event for as much political capital as possible, the overall effect is less than imagined, IMHO.

Anyway, I was asked to speak at the event and so I did. I was scheduled to take the stage after another speaker whose sole purpose, it seemed, was to encourage the crowd to try and make change via the established political parties and not to waste their time with fringe groups, e.g., most of the folks who organized the event. I was more than happy to have the opportunity to follow him.

I got up to the mic and said that the reason we were all here today was because of the established political parties. They were the ones who had put the laws into place, so how likely was it that they were going to do a complete 180 and change them? The only reasonable course of action was to vote for different people, and parties, than the ones now ensconced in the State House. I gave a general call for voting Libertarian, but emphasized that voting for any party not now in power was probably a surer route to real change than voting for those currently holding the power. I ended by naming the Libertarian candidates on the ballot and asking for votes. I received a goodly amount of applause.

I then went down into the crowd and circulated a bit, unlike most of the other politicians who took off after speaking. I figured here was an opportunity to really make myself memorable to these people, as opposed to the folks who spoke and left. I talked to a few folks (one of whom was firmly convinced there were 52 states, which gives you an idea of the general IQ of the crowd) and just about everybody I spoke with congratulated me on my rhetoric and offered me hits from various bongs, joints, pipes and what-have-you.

By the time I was done circulating the crowd, I was easily the most stoned state rep candidate on the ballot. Probably not a great move on my part, but you have to walk the walk after talking the talk. Of course, now I could barely do either. I wanted a burger, real bad. And a drink. And fries, too. Yeah, some fries would be awesome.

I hung around for a few more minutes, listening to a band called Fleshflower (who had an excellent singer named Doug Thoms, by the way) doing their version of "Sweet Leaf", and then my campaign chief, Lee Nason, steered me over to the McDonald's on Tremont Street so I could cure my munchies. None of the other speaking engagements I had were nearly as much fun.

We did a few stand outs. That is, a few of us stood on streetcorners or intersections, holding my poster and waving inanely at cars, as though we knew everybody passing by and were loved by one and all. A couple of folks did honk horns in appreciation, and some people I actually did know drove by and gave me a thumbs up, but there were also more than one or two drivers who gave me the finger. I just smiled and waved at them as though they were pledging me their eternal support, rather than telling me to go and fuck myself.

I walked as many neighborhoods as I reasonably could, considering I was working two part-time jobs while this run was happening. I dropped a pamphlet inside every door and spoke to as many folks as were willing to come to the door and take the pamphlet by hand. Sometimes the folks were appreciative of the effort of someone running, even if they didn't necessarily agree with all I stood for. Those are the really good folks and God bless them. If you don't readily agree with someone, but you still appreciate their effort? You're a good soul and I wish there were more of your type.

Of course, there were those who told me they liked me but, since I didn't have a chance, they wouldn't vote for me. I felt like saying, "No shit, Sherlock, I don't have a chance as long as you have your head up your ass and refuse to vote for the person you really like. Stop being an idiotic asshole and vote for who you really want, you dope", but you can't really say that when you're running on other people's money, so I just said, "Well, I hope you'll reconsider. Thanks for your time!" and moved on to the next house.

We were able to place signs on lawns and in windows, but not more than a handful or so.

I'll note that campaigning can be a wonderful way to get in shape. By the time election day rolled around, I had lost over 10 pounds, mostly due to running up and down people's stairs to place pamphlets in their doors and give them the gladhand. Dorchester is a very hilly place, so I did a lot of climbing.

I had an opportunity to talk on a couple of radio shows, most notably David Brudnoy's. Of course, he was a Libertarian himself, so he always had an open microphone for a Libertarian candidate, if nobody else was scheduled. I phoned in and spoke on his air for about 10 minutes. Other interviews were done on various college radio stations, few of which had any audience members in Dorchester or Mattapan, but the secondary reason for my running was to familiarize anybody I could reach with the concept of libertarianism, so not a total loss.

I was interviewed by two newspapers, as I recall. One was one of the local Dorchester papers I had contracted with for my ads. The other was one of those "weekly shopper" deals. Insofar as the Globe, Herald, etc., were concerned? They had no interest, nor do they usually in state rep races, really, so it wasn't just a matter of bias. Jon Keller gave me a mention in The Phoenix. He called my campaign "a quixotic quest". Thanks, Jon!

(It was actually a somewhat kind mention. And I thanked him, in person, at a campaign rally one night. He's one of the best political reporters in Boston, for my money.)

I'll mention one other event that occurred during my campaign, although it was for another candidate. You may recall hearing of a bar in Boston called The Eire Pub. It gained a small amount of fame for being where Ronald Reagan stopped in 1983 for a drink, and where Bill Clinton stopped by while campaigning in 1992. In any case, it was famous for having hosted one president and one presidential nominee while they were in Boston. You can read a brief history here at The ratshit Dorchester Reporter, which you'll see tomorrow why I hold it in such high regard.

Anyway, I found out that the Libertarian presidential candidate, Andre Marrou, would be hitting Boston for some talk radio appearances and whatnot. Now, I thought it might be a clever hook to have him stop by the Eire Pub. I worked up a press release and sent it to all of the media outlets I could think of - tv, radio, newspapers, telegraph, ham radio... I covered it all. I cleared it with the bar owner before it happened, telling him that it might be a crowded night. His exact words, as I remember, were, "Who? Yeah, knock yourself out. I don't give a shit."

I thought it was a cute idea. We can do the same silly shit the big boys do, etc.
At the least, I thought we might get a photo op that the major papers could use for filler. They could give it a caption like "Losers Stop At The Eire, Too" for all I cared. ANY publicity would be welcome, since they pretty much ignored us otherwise.

Turns out that the Herald did think it was a cute idea, so they sent a photographer. The photo at the top of this piece was one of the ones shot. However, they never did run any of the shots taken. Andre (who is the bearded one in the dark sports jacket in the middle of the photo) sat at the bar and answered as many rude questions as he could stand, while hurriedly grabbing a few bites of a pastrami sandwich. Such is the life of a third-party presidential candidate. You'll notice the lack of secret service agents in the photo.

Lee Nason, my campaign chief, is third from the right, while the entirely indefatigable Matt Taylor, from my campaign staff, is third from the left. I'm the one standing next to Andre, in shirtsleeves and tie, once again with my hands in my pockets, since I have no brains when it comes to photo ops. My mother and stepfather, fourth and second from the right, respectively, were kind enough to come down and lend their support.

Between Andre and me is a fellow who was at the bar when we arrived, and probably had been there since that morning from the look of him. We talked him into coming outside and posing with us so that it would look like a bigger group.

One of my biggest contributors, Dan Fitzgerald, is at the extreme left. Good fellow to whom I still owe a big favor, unless he's reading this.

Just kidding, Dan. Any time, any place.

Tomorrow, the results, and why the Dorchester Reporter sucks.

Go to The Finale!


TimK said...

"... there were those who told me they liked me but, since I didn't have a chance, they wouldn't vote for me."

That's silly, or a dodge, and I'll tell you why. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) It was just you and some other minor candidate running against the incumbant. In such a race, we already know who's going to win. (The incumbant, in case you were wondering.)

Now, if you like the incumbant, by all means vote for him. But the argument above sounds like: I don't like the incumbant, and I like you, but instead of voting for you, I'm going to vote for the only challenger likely to win, which in this case would be... nobody.

The exact same argument we hear election after election here in Massachusetts in the Presidential race. No matter who's running, no matter how close the national polls are, we already know who's going to win Massachusetts's Electoral College votes. (The Democrat, in case you were wondering.) So, then, "I hate the Democrat, and I love the Liberatarian; therefore, I'm voting for the Republican, because he's at least likely to win"?! I don't think so. In Massachusetts, the Republican will almost certainly lose; therefore, it makes no sense to vote for him.

Every time, I become more convinced that the IQ of the average U.S. voter is slightly less than his shoe size.


Suldog said...

You know, Tim, the oddest thing is that some people will only vote for who they perceive to be the winner, no matter who else is running or what they stand for. Personally, I feel that these people should be forcibly sterilized (with a rusty chainsaw) but that wasn't part of my official platform :-)