Friday, March 12, 2010

Political Awakening and Funeral of Idealism

A long time conservative and Republican, my husband dipped a toe into the political pond last night. It was, to quote some author more eloquent than me, the best of times and it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times because I got to see the love of my life step into a political life I, and those around him, knew he was born to embrace. I watched my love walk into a room filled with tension and outright hostility, hold his head high and give the first of many successful political speeches.

He said the words eloquently and with conviction. During the question and answer period he spoke with passion and connected to the audience. When asked a question laden with land mines, he navigated it with the savvy only one born to this work could demonstrate. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I wanted to clap, but I didn't. I did the 'political wifey' thing and sat, with smiles and nods. I was thankful to God for this weird opportunity and so proud to be his wife. It was the best of times.

Later, as the political process played out, it became the worst of times. This weird opportunity was a nominating and voting process for a seat held for 37 years by the opposing party. It is a historical time as the eyes of the nation are on our little District.

Theoretically, conferees were to come to hear the candidates speak and then make up their minds as to who should be the candidate in the special election. I thought it odd that some of those decision makers already wore stickers from one of the candidates before he had a chance to speak. I thought it even more odd when one of the candidates used lines nearly identical to my husband's speech. It was even odder when another candidate's son was asked to leave the room because he was considered part of the 'staff'. It took me a minute, but I realized I was watching a very orchestrated bit of political theatre masquerading as a 'fair and open process'.

All the speeches were good with none being great. The two who came up for votes couldn't have had more different speeches. One reiterated the tea party talking points. No spending. Common sense. Yay America. The other connected his character, his experience and his record of getting things done to deep and abiding conservative principles from which he would cut spending, etc. One was a pep rally, the other was substance. For me, it was clear cut who would represent our District from a position of strength and experience.

The pep rally, USA cheerleader won.

It was pre-determined. It was orchestrated. It wasn't about the candidates, but rather deeper and more entrenched politics of personality and power.

My husband awoke this morning, bleary eyed with a political hangover, he said two things. #1: He felt like he finally fit into his own political skin and couldn't imagine not doing this again and again. #2: In the face of this orchestrated evisceration of a good man, his idealism was dead.

I have a hangover too. I am reexamining my own political convictions and alignments. Perhaps too I had a political reawakening and funeral of idealism.

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