“There’s never been a colored, a Jew, a Democrat, a Yankee, a queer, or a woman as Mayor of this town and there never will be!”
I glanced up from my notes to study the odd little man in his Oshkosh overalls, Penny’s plaid shirt, knee-high Frye boots and Tom Mix hat.
His cohorts called him Red. I don’t know if he was christened that, or nicknamed for the color of his neck — but it certainly didn’t stem from embarrassment by him, or any of the men at that district Republican Committee meeting rewarding him with whistles and a rousing applause as I sat alone in the far, back corner of the small auditorium, recording the forum as a favor to the (absent) president of our local Republican club.
And, all I could think was — what luck!
No, not because I was a committee member and could object. I wasn’t.
But I was born in the small town that hosted the first Republican convention, “Here, under the oaks, July 6, 1854” where an obscure granite rock with a bruised bronze plague once sat on a tiny patch of treeless grass, three short blocks from where I spent my most misinformative years.
Back then, the rites of passage included adopting both the religion and political party affiliation of your parents. My parents were protestant and Republican. I’m neither, but during my juvenescence, I feigned being both.
The reality is, religion and politics have never been roadblocks for me. I tend to accept that we’re all going to believe what we need to believe in order to survive our slippery slope slide from here into hereafter.
However, the pretense of politics alarms me, and is the reason I encourage every woman to run for public office.
It’s easier than you think, and more satisfying than you dare imagine.
After filling out the simple forms with the Americanized spelling of my last name and paying a nominal filing fee, I learned you aren’t required to raise money, put up signs, hand out cards, take out ads, stand on street corners in inclement weather inhaling exhaust while waving to commuters — or even to serve if elected.
Which I did not do.
Instead, I entered the citywide race for Mayor because I could.
And, because the Mayor of our town is in charge of the police force that was alleged to have created computer software profiling every resident according to age, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, marital status and coded lifestyle.
I ran because the Mayor had the power to veto city council legislation.
I ran because the personal voting records of all residents, their addresses, and phone numbers are made available to campaign camps via their candidate.
I ran because it’s possible for local elected officials to access sensitive census information about their neighbors.
I ran because I’d be invited to all candidate gatherings, lunches, forums, debates, and media interviews with equal time to speak, followed by unlimited time to answer questions. Places where I could tell the people about the alleged profiling, the veto capability, the reality of records, and the potential for both discrimination and profiteering to the detriment of the electorate should the (professed private) census information be misused by unscrupulous officials with a personal agenda to advance.
But primarily, I ran because I was told:
“And yet, I can.”
“You can’t run as a Republican.”
“Unless I’m registered as a Republican. Then I can.”
“It’s a nonpartisan race, so no one will know.”
“Unless it’s leaked.”
“You won’t have the backing of the Republican Party.”
Aye, there’s the sub rosa.
… and more.
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019
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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her book, Imogene’s Eloise : Inspired by a true-love story
is available AMAZON, in paperback , and on Kindle.
“… crisp…clever…unique…saucy humor…delicious writing…fabulous…funny…historically accurate…genius debut… This will be a classic; buy it now.”
SHE Magazine Reviews IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love