Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fear and voting in Jackson County.

It's crunch time: a week and a half until election day.

And what a weird one it's going to be.

Suzanne invited me to a political shin-dig, put on by the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, at Bella Notte last night. I felt nervous about going - all the big-wigs would be there - but then I remembered I have at least three fellow Rotarians who are running for county commissioner spots (including one running for the spot I thought about). I would definitely have folks to talk about.

When we showed up, it had the air of a convention. There were poles with plastic signs on top, each with a candidates name, and under the pole and sign stood the candidate, shaking hands, wearing buttons, pressing the flesh.

Tons of people there, most buying booze, more snacking on meatballs and cheese with crackers. "Jesus," I thought, "what a metaphor." These pols were getting soused, and it was the least I could do to talk to them while they're at their most vulnerable.

You could tell who were the popular candidates in the room, judging from the crowd surrounding them, and they were all Republicans. Lots of white people, but I smiled when I saw one of my Rotarians say he was voting "yes" on Proposal 2 (the anti-affirmative action one) to the African American lady he was shaking hands with. To say he was embarrassed is an understatement. But he was brave.

The news all over town (and the country) is that the Democrats are going to sweep the House and Senate in an orgy of voter dissatisfaction and scandal, even though they don't have a unifying plan to get the country Back on Track.

Locally, however, there were no such feelings - at least at this event. These folks knew who they were voting for, and it wasn't for anyone with a "D" next to their name. This was Jackson, the birthplace of the Republican party, friend to Ronald Reagan, and example of white-bread America.

The rookies in the process were easy to spot. They stood alone, maybe with their wife, just waiting for someone to come up, shake their hand, and start a superficial conversation. The pros were ready, beer in-hand, working over the crowd like a Naval tattoo parlor on a Saturday night.

Me? I was there for the free grub, for the Rotary support, and to see some of these yahoos up close and personal. Dick DeVos, candidate for governor, showed up for a spell, but I wasn't interested in him. It was his daughter I was on the lookout for. I figured if Dicky-boy wanted my vote, he's set me up on a date with his blonde, gorgeous progeny (who maybe looks a little too much like her dad for comfort - but think of the cathartic glee of dating some Nazi's daughter out of spite).

I've really been in a sour mood, ever since the 2004 election, and I've been waiting to pounce on any politician who's idea of running the country is to idolize the Current Occupant.

But in this room, on this night, the numbers were against me. Except for the poor bastard representing Governor Granholm, and maybe the white farmer from Oregon who benefitted from affirmative action, I was the only one in a "kick the bums out" mood. Everyone else smelled like status quo.

Ah, but what can I do? I'm only one vote.

I just hope there are more people out there who are as angry as I am.

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