Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dark Horse Days

"It's the most humiliating thing I know of to run for office."  ~ Lenore Romney
Thank you, Mrs. Romney, for making it okay to feel humiliated.  I was slightly delighted to read of your 1970 campaign for US Senate.  I too was once convinced by party officials to run for public office.  I too had to deal with baffling  rumors and I too lost the election. 

I had popped in on city council meetings a time or two and had worked with the council on a few minor issues, but considered my interactions with them to be largely forgettable by all parties involved.   Apparently, I was wrong.  Somewhere along the way I had made an impression because out of the blue one Sunday afternoon, I got a call from a member of the council with the suggestion/invitation to run for office.  When I cornered him with "why me?" he said that I "exemplified courage".

 He promised unconditional support and coaching from both himself and the Mayor and for the most part he was good for his word.  In fact, things went so well at first that many people I met while campaigning started saying things like "why are you still out campaigning? you've got it in the bag."  And it certainly started to feel that way.  Until...

I said the "P" word.  P is for Privatize.

In Utah, it's not uncommon for a city to decide it's their job to provide recreational amenities for their citizens.  Golf courses, pools, gun clubs, cable television, etc.  Unfortunately, none of these institutions were or are self-sustaining.  Left to the rules of real- life business and free enterprise, they usually fall flat on their bottoms and go bankrupt.  Therefore the general population must be taxed, directly or otherwise, to maintain them.   Remember...a government that is big enough to give you everything, is also big enough to take away everything.  In this case, your choice and your money are the casualties.

No one had coached me on how to skirt this issue.  In all honesty, forget skirting probably should have been avoided all together, but one night at a debate I opened my big mouth; and although I didn't know it at the time, I essentially announced my resignation.  The following day the phone calls began and my campaign ended.  

I learned the hard way just how many of my supporters were golfers and just how much it meant to these golfers that their past-time of choice be subsidized by their unwitting neighbors . I'm assuming there were somewhere around 27 of them because that's how many votes I came up short.   To this day I am still somewhat scared by the fact that part of my fate that night and the fate of that cute little town to this day, was and is decided by people like the gentleman who called me a "socialist pig" for wanting to privatize the city golf course.  Wow...those who know so little, rule so many. Yikes.

I don't know what Lenore Romney did the day after her defeat way back in 1970, but her humiliation sure resonated with me when I read about it today in a magazine.  It instantly took me back to 2007 when  I spent the day after my defeat at home, curled up on the sofa with two darling daughters, watching Ratatouille and eating an entire carton of Breyers together...right out of the carton.

My consolation prize, and truly the best prize of all, was the kind folks whom I would run into from time to time after that, who would not only recognize me in public, but express their support and regrets that I had not won.  Even as late as 18 months after the humiliation, I was reaping the balm of approbation.  Not bad for a loser.

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