Publish the Word
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The Lord gave the Word and great was the company of those that published it. 
Psalm 68:11



            When I lost my English teaching job in 1997 due to faculty downsizing, I

was 
equipped to do very little -- other than correct grammar or teach how to

organize an 
expository essay.  Having taught school for 25 years, I was over-

educated, but woefully under-
skilled.  Though I could navigate a research library
 
and correctly use MLA documentation, jobs 
in our local newspaper requiring

those skills were as common as jobs for Yak herdsmen.

            About the same time I was casting about on the waters of mid-life crisis,

I read in the 
newspaper that our state representative was leaving his elected

post and taking a job in the 
private sector.  Not only was his seat in the

legislature open to any and all comers, but it paid a 
respectable 30 grand -- not

bad for a legislative session which lasted from January to June.  The 
rest of the

year I could work on that bestselling novel I had promised to write decades ago.

            There were only a couple minor flaws in my quest to be the next public

servant to our 
state capitol.  First, what I knew about politics wouldn't amount to
 
a jigger in a shot glass.  Second, 
I had about 28 dollars in savings to run a

successful campaign.  And third, the only declared 
candidate was running

unopposed because he was the son of our current U.S. Congressman 
who

intended to occupy the seat his father and grandfather had before him.   A recent

Naval 
Academy graduate, he was well-heeled and well-connected.

 

Nevertheless, I had never really performed any civic duty, other than

closing my eyes to 
vote for a president on occasion -- actually, I might have voted
 
for Jimmy Carter back in the 
1980s, but no one after that in a major party. 

And at 48, I was not too old to leave the silent 
majority and become a politician. 

I could learn to hobnob with the fatcats and enjoy those 
lobbyists luncheons as

well as anyone.  So, I drove up to the capitol on a day tornadoes swept 
through

the state and filed my candidacy.  I should have read the omens in the weather.

 

My legislative district covered the northern half of GreeneCounty, an

area of 
approximately 180 square miles.  Some of the towns I discovered on a

map I had never heard of 
-- Bois de Arc?  Glidewell?  With no money, no name

recognition and no clue as to what I 
was doing, I soon sallied forth to seek fame,

adventure and PAC contributions.  

            Of course, no 
one wants to donate money to -- what was your name? 

After a fundraiser at a local pizza pub where 
I enlisted the services of a band I

knew, I was 80 dollars in the hole.  No one showed up, so the 
least I could do was
 
treat the musicians to beer and pizza.  Any more fundraisers and I would soon be

bankrupt!

 

I needed a creative strategy which would require no money.  Thus began

the most truly 
hapless political campaign my part of the state has ever endured. 

I went door to door -- 6,000 
houses in three months -- and shook more greasy,

calloused, germ-laden hands than anyone 
should have to in a lifetime.  I now have
 
new respect for Michael Jackson's obsessive glove 
wearing in public.  In my foot
 
travels through neighborhoods, rural subdivisions and sleepy villages, 
I was

chased by dogs, though bitten only once, clawed by a cat, stung by yellow jackets,

attacked 
by fleas, sunburnt, poison ivied and had one elderly woman slam her

door on my hand.

 

 My worthy opponent was running slick, expensive television ads.  His
 
signs were popping up 
like mushrooms in yards all over the district.  His smiling

face and famous name beamed down from 
several enormous billboards.  I

sweltered as I walked and listened and shook hands and promised my 
neighbors
 
I would not be just another greedy politico who only wanted to get his hands in

their pockets.

 

            A few citizens seemed genuinely interested.  By mid-summer, according

to my calculations, after five 
months on the campaign trail, I had spoken to about

3 percent of my future constituents.

 

My family helped, as well.  My 13-year-old son/campaign manager was

great at schmoozing people door-to-
door and  my wife, who passed out leaflets in
 
a 4th of July parade, stopped threatening to 
divorce me.  Our 20-year-old son

thought his old man had probably popped a cork.  

            But my opponent was so visible, his name so ubiquitous, his financial

coffers so 
bloated,  I began to despair as the election drew near.  What could I do

but stand on busy 
intersections in my I Like Mike shirt and wave at passing

motorists?   Campaigning dressed as 
Abe Lincoln seemed such a clever idea.  

I volunteered to mow lawns for anyone's support, a 
new spin on grassroots

politics.

 

On election day I stood outside a busy polling site and offered to shake a
 
few more 
hands, but sadly, when the Yeas were tallied, I fell exactly 100 votes

short -- which wasn't bad 
since my opponent spent 25 thousand dollars to my

miserly $800.

 

Was it a worthwhile endeavor?  More or less.  Would I consider another

run?  No way, Jose. 

 

            But I think my wife has the necessary charisma to give it a stab.