Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My Final Election

Well, I have returned home and am monitoring the various networks for election results, as, no doubt, are most of you.

Unless something unusual happens, this will be the last election in which I take active participation. Not because my candidate lost, for this is the unfortunate outcome of the Congressional race here in the Fifth District of Missouri.

I suppose I could be accused of exaggeration in my disappointment in the results of this contest. We fought the good fight, although my recent work-related travel limited my local activity. But we came closer than anyone, including, to be honest, I would have ever thought possible when I was initially motivated to take an active role in the campaign.

Yes, I am disappointed. But I was finally one of those people in the hotel ballroom fighting back emotion as their candidate makes 'The Concession Speech'. Instead of just watching it at home on television.

But that is not why this is my last campaign.

The why is because of events that happened before that Concession Speech.

And, ironically, it relates to a television broadcast.

At several times during the evening the Chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, a Mr. Bunk Farrington, Esq. (I found out later.) would step up onto the podium, approach the lectern and attempt to get the attention of the crowd by using the anemic public-address system provided by the hotel. He was barely audible above the crowd noise and the audio-feed of two large-screen projector setups at each corner of the room, each featuring local television station broadcasts. Every so many minutes some new item would appear on one or another of the broadcasts causing the crowd to react with cheers. Even with a decent PA with adequate volume it would have been difficult to get the attention of the active, excited groups of people. Bunk is not the most dynamic speaker, and the hotel didn't do him any favors.

I gave brief thought to giving a quick yell to get everyone's attention and turning it over to him, but thought better of it. (Mr. Gadgets has a built-in PA... ;->) As it turns out, this was probably a wise choice. Little did I know.

After multiple trips to the mike, Bunk (don't you just love that name? It's just TOOO easy...) was attempting to introduce yet another guest speaker. At this point the TV broadcast from one side of the room seemed louder than usual. Bunk was, apparently, of the opinion that looking over to that side of the room would somehow cause the volume to decrease. I saw a couple of people go to the projector and push various buttons on both the main unit and on a remote. No results. I stood up, walked over, took about two seconds to find the audio connector I fully expected would be feeding amplifier and disconnected it. Problem solved.

Bunk left the stage, came over and berated me for 'touching the equipment'.
He turned back and I reached down and reconnected the feed. I then proceeded to attempt to lower the volume on the projector, unsure that I was pressing the right button. (It's not that my eyes are bad, there's just never enough light... ;->) Nothing seemed to happen. Several seconds later, the volume decreased. I assumed someone from the hotel staff had finally awakened from their nap and turned down some amplifier somewhere.

I went back to my chair. A few minutes later, the speaker was finished, but the volume on the broadcast had not returned, much to the chagrin of the crowd on that side of the room. Whatever magic that had happened to lower the volume seemed to be reversing itself to restore the audio signal. I figured I should go at least attempt to reverse that which I had apparently accomplished, though I was at a loss as to the delay in the result. I adjusted the volume to the satisfaction of the information-hungry viewers.

Who should once again by my side but good 'ol Bunk. He laid into me again about not touching the equipment. He finished off with, "It's not a big deal, just leave it alone." I said, "If you don't want a problem solved, don't ask a Republican to solve it." He retorted with, "I didn't ask you to do it, I asked the hotel personnel." Well, no, you didn't do a damn thing, you just stood there like an idiot looking over into the corner. I would have said this, but at that very moment my candidate was taking the stage to give her speech.

When she was finished, I retrieved my coat, then went over to one of the people I knew from campaign meetings and verified the Bunk was the party chair.

I then walked up to Bunk, who happened to be standing with the State Senator from our county. (An acquaintance, who I have spoken to on multiple occasions, including earlier in the evening and a member of the church where my Father attends. My Father has, in fact been active in the Senator's campaigns.) I told 'Bunk' that he was right, it was 'no big deal' and that this was the first campaign I had ever actively worked. And thanks to him, I would never be active in a campaign again.
(Ironically, that same Senator had thanked me earlier that evening for my campaign work.)

What the hell was I thinking? Getting involved with politics requires that you get involved with POLITICIANS.

Bunk epitomizes everything bad about the Jackson County Republican Party. I now remember some indication of the pettiness and parochialism that seems to prevail here locally.

I submit:
Don't make use of your knowledge and professional experience to fix the problem yourself, wait for the most-likely union worker to get around to it.

This does remind me of a political party, but their symbol ain't an Elephant...

Besides, the little control-freak numb-skull hadn't even thought to ask the hotel to place an American flag on the stage. I pointed this out to some other people I knew from campaign meetings and we procured one form hotel staff. Seemed like a good idea, given all the TV stations had camera crews and talking heads ready to capture the moments.

In the process, I did assume the Jackson County Republican Party was pro-American flag.

I did not inform Bunk of this travesty. Who knows what offense might have been taken at the presumption.

And so, I'm done. I shall not lift a finger for any local Republican again.

I don't pretend that this is of any true importance. Bunk shrugged me off and will never notice the difference. I'm sure he can afford to piss-off people like me.

After all, I'm 'just' volunteering my time.


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