Diving Into The Campaign High Seas
Satire By Deyva Arthur, Political Idealist And Sticking To It
The Republican said, “We’ll call this mission Operation Freedom Flight. I will be the leader keeping you safe from terrorist attacks. I am sure we have plenty of supplies.” He saw no reason to worry and just sat there.
The Democrat yelled, “What are you crazy? There is nothing to eat or drink, sharks are circling and we are all certainly going to die! But I’ll follow whatever you say.” He saw everything was hopeless and just sat there.
The Green said, “Why don’t we use these oars and start rowing!” And she headed for the nearby shore.
I’ve been in the Green Party for a number of years and decidedóit was time. It was time to run for political office.
Why any Green would run for office is a mystery. There is not much money in it. Power is an almighty struggle. Nope, we Greens do it because we must, like breathing or folding laundry. And running for government is soónot fun. It is long, long hours of putting myself out there while trying to stay above the morass of political muck. Even if I did win, my prize is to go to lots and lots of meetings. Oh, how I love meetings. Robert’s Rules of Order are such a turn on.
But all that is not important to any member of the Green Party. Thinking long and hard, I take a deep breath. RightÖ I will do this. I will run for Assistant Vice Secretary to the Village Planning Board. Trumpets sound and I step into the sunshine.
Once I have made my decision, I have to figure out a way to get my family on board. A fellow Green once told me: above anything else he saw more campaigns come to an abrupt demise by a hostile spouse. It seemed I had three choices:
- Start the marriage counseling now.
- File for temporary divorce.
- Figure out a way for my husband to want me to win.
I went for the third option. I made him my campaign manager. We actually spend more time together than before.
Now comes petitioning. As a Green we have to prove our worthiness for the right to be a choice at the voting booth. It is kind of like pulling the sword from the stone only to get the chance to muck the stables. Asking enough registered voters to sign a piece of paper, which states, “Yeah, she can have her name on the invite list, I guess” does all this. Republicans and Dem ocrats don’t have to do nearly half of any of this rigmarole. They do not have to work as hard to run for office, while at the same time be a lot more wacko. But I digress.
Petitioning is also tricky because I have to figure out how many signatures I need to qualify for the ballot. The Board of Elections people like to play their numbers close to their chest. Pick a number and they answer me with a firm “maybe.” Finally, through a suppressed giggle they tell me I have to get 18 gazillion and 12 signatures. On top of this there is the óDate Game. This means like a relay race, I have something like a couple of weekends to get all this done. A trip to the BOE often leads to confusion, panic, and sometimes, irritable bowels.
Next comes withstanding the petition challenge. Every Green has to accept this as part of the campaign. In Democratic Party offices all over the country, Greens are on their “most wanted list.” Democrats have made it a priority, over health care reform, over labor issues and world hunger, to bring down Greens. They do this best through challenging our ballot petitions in court.
If I need 50,000 signatures, a Democrat will whine to a judge that 49,999 are fraudulent. It would be likely that the one legitimate signature would be my own. How ever, in other challenges, the petitioner’s own signature was often crossed off as invalid. It makes me wonder, which one was okay? Many a Green has fallen off the campaign cliff by losing a petition challenge, and owing tens of thousands of dollars in fines. All this for the privilege of having a small spot in the far corner under the donut smudge on the ballot.
Okay, I have gotten this far and I am ready to start campaigning. My next big hurdle is dressing for success. For many Greens it is tie-dye versus business suitówhat’s a politician to do?
In many a Green campaign, it becomes a philosophical dilemma of fashion. If I dress true to myself, showing that I am not playing the games of the establishment, people might think I am knocking on their door because I plan to mug them. This is typically not good for getting votes. On the other hand, do I really want to look like a Republican? Umm, maybe just until I have secured a seat.
So I compromise and come to find out that Birkenstocks don’t look half-bad with the right suit jacket. Also, I limit my political buttons to five and ask my volunteer to not let his beard go too far below his Adam’s apple.
After asking all my distant relatives, every neighbor, every friend silly enough to answer the phone, I put together a rag tag team of volunteers. It’s kind of like trying to catch a school of fish with one finger. Despite a few clumps of hair missing from my husband/campaign manager’s head, he is able to fit people into a schedule. We are organized, we are pumped with coffee, and we all have clipboards with extra pens. Yes, we are ready to go door knocking!
I ring the doorbell and a sweet little old voter in curlers slowly opens the door.
“Hi, I am Deyva. I am running for office in your district. Let me tell you some of my plans. They are very different to my opponent Jane who may not have your best interests at heart.”
And she says, ” Oh, come in. I certainly would like to hear all about it. I started voting the first chance I got and I haven’t missed an election since.”
Half an hour later I say, “Again my name is Deyva. I am very glad to have met you.”
She gives me a resounding handshake, “I’m very impressed with what you have to say young lady and I will definitely vote for you this electionóJane.”
Right. And I bet she always votes Democrat anyway.
Still, going out and meeting the constituency is my favorite part of campaigning. An experienced candidate learns to read a voter like a tabloid magazineónever really thinking they are being up front with you, but then again you never know. Actually most people are very nice and will lend a sympathetic ear and offer cookies. Some actually like the platform and say if they ever did vote, surely they would vote for me.
On occasion, there is the hostile voter and then I just back away slowly. Although the Green Party is probably on the far left, the greatest amount of hatred comes from our own kindóprogressives. Like Judas and Darth Vader, Greens are THE SPOILERS. For anything gone terribly wrong in politics, progressives can trace it back to Greens running a decent presidential campaign where people actually voted for someone they believed in. Now voters are too frightened to do anything like that again.
Deep into the campaign, every Green discovers they need a bit more money. Well okay, we realize we need a lot more money, or even just some money at all. Greens have employed many different and creative ways of putting forth financially viable campaigns. Most work really well if it was sayÖ the 1800s, when a television ad didn’t cost your child’s college tuition fund, or the opponent wasn’t a billionaire with nothing better to spend his money on. Oh, for a billionaire that supported the Green Party. Faced with a billionaire, a Green would have a real problem. We don’t accept donations over five dollars for fear we would be beholden to the donor. No matter, I didn’t need my life savings anyway.
Since Greens are treated like travelers with the bird flu when it comes to participating in televised debates, we have to figure out how to get the media to cover our campaign. After presenting provocative press releases, action-packed proposals, and go on a 30-day hunger strike, the media give us a sympathetic pat on the back and walk away. Even if there was a newspaper interested in the Green Party, many Greens are uncomfortable blowing their own horn. A fellow Green took time off from his campaign to plant tulip bulbs throughout the city, but refused to let the newspapers know. He didn’t want his motivations misinterpreted. I am sure they won’t be, as nobody knows about it.
Well, Election Day is never far away. I really, really hope I win. Winning is mighty fine. The great thing about us Greens is no matter what happens on Election Day, it is always a win for us. Like the wave lapping against the dam, the Green Party slowly and surely will get on through. The Green Party is all about making history.