Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shopping for a Candidate

I should begin by saying that in the last election, I voted for Dennis Kucinich. Not only did I vote for him, I relinquished my status as an Independent and registered as a Democrat for the first time in my life so that I could vote for him in the primary. I discovered later that in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts one can vote in a party’s primary even if one is not registered in that party, so the gesture wasn’t necessary, but the point is, I was committed enough to do it.

This time around, despite my fondness for Congressman Kucinich, which was intensified after meeting him last time, but then somewhat dampened by his decision to marry someone other than me, I was feeling like maybe I ought to get in with the cool kids. I mean, this time around, it’s not a choice between dull and duller, or lame and lamer, there are actually some exciting candidates in the running.

After much internal struggle—do you support the guy whose faith and politics you really love, but who has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected, the woman, or the black guy?--I decided to go for the woman.

So, I went online to buy some Hillary gear.

I haven’t paid awfully close attention to the Presidential campaigns yet, although I’m horrified that Mitt Romney is running (having endured him as governor here) and I did watch one of the debates, the one co-branded with YouTube and hosted by Anderson Cooper. (He sure has come a long way since hosting The Mole, hasn’t he?)

I thought that Obama gave the best, most Presidential performance, with Hillary a close second. Sadly, my favorite candidate was the butt of a (really funny) joke that he didn’t quite get. But, that’s okay. We still love you, Dennis.

I started my Presidential schwag shopping with Hillary because, after some unsettling conversations with some of my favorite female (and feminist, I think) friends, I realized that, despite her fantastic fundraising abilities and her performance in the polls, there seems to be a real lack of support among the people I think should be automatically supporting her: white, progressive, liberal and/or Democrat women. I mean, she’s a woman. Don’t you understand what this means? How important it is for your daughters? For us? For the world? 43 consecutive white, male Presidents and you want to quibble over her haircut or her ability to alienate the right wing? Come ON.

So, I decided it was time to put my money—and possibly my fashion—where my mouth is and gear up. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything I really wanted to buy at Hillary’s site, with the possible exception of an “Asian American [sic] & Pacific Islanders for Hillary” button, which I thought would be funny on me.

Other groups singled out were African Americans [sic], Jews, gays, nurses, veterans, women, children, and educators. The only one I fit into is "women," but, honestly, while I am supporting Hillary primarily because she is a woman, I don’t think I want to wear a Women for Hillary button. I was looking for something really stylish or really clever. Something that made a great statement. I still display on the wall of my office the "Vote for Hillary's Husband," buttons I got when I volunteered for the Clinton/Gore campaign in '92. I guess I was hoping there might be a "Vote for Bill's Wife," button to complete the set, or something...but there wasn't anything like that.

I was on the brink of buying her somewhat stylish and kind of clever slim-fitting signature tee shirt (for $20.08 plus shipping and handling), but then my best friend reminded me that I never wear tee shirts. Oh, Hillary. Why don’t you sell tank tops? Why?

I wasn’t getting quite what I wanted from this candidate, who, on the face of it seems to be my ideal match. So, I decided to just, you know, take a peek at Barak Obama’s site. Now, this guy, he knows how to give the people what they want. If you want to back Obama, you can do it with a cozy fleece blanket, a wide selection of gorgeous buttons, or—yes, that’s right—ladies tank tops. Unfortunately, most of the attractive, affordable, made-in-the-USA tank tops sport the “Women for Obama” slogan, which I find alienating. However, Barak did not stop there. There are a plethora of shirts and tanks for women, including several color schemes with cap sleeves and cute little hot pink baby doll number with Obama’s face between the boobs—for only ten bucks! I was nearly sold…but then I thought…perhaps I should just look at Kucinich’s merchandise, just to see what’s out there. I mean, before I write him off completely, why don't I see what he can do for me?

And that’s when he got me. As soon as I landed at his web site, my heart (and my wallet) was won.

My favorite candidate; the guy who tells the truth and soldiers on and genuinely cares about America; the guy with the hot wife and the UFO sighting: he was offering a signed, pocket-sized Constitution, just like the one he carries around. He carries around a Constitution! How could you NOT love this guy.

So, Hillary can keep her “Let’s Make History” shirts and Obama can keep his sexy tank. I gave my $50 to the Kucinich campaign, in exchange for my very own signed pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. I put my money where my heart is.

Tonight, I watched a YouTube video of Dennis speaking before an ani difranco concert, and with tears in my eyes, I went back to the site. His campaign is trying to raise $1 million by tomorrow. They have, to date, $277,000 toward this goal. Money given before the end of tomorrow (November 29) is eligible for matching funds. So, tonight, I gave another $40, in exchange for a collection of buttons, stickers, and signs. I’m going to give some to my mother, who introduced me to the candidate in the first place, and use the rest to spread the word.

You may think that Dennis Kucinich is unelectable, but this is only true if you don’t vote for him. One of the great things about America is that if enough people believe, anyone is electable. And the more money he has, the longer he can stay in the race, and the longer he stays in the race, the more he can influence the debate. This is a different sort of victory than winning the White House, but a victory nonetheless.

I’m hoping you’ll give to the Kucinich campaign, and that you’ll give him your vote in your state’s primary or caucus. And if his message of peace and prosperity doesn’t sway you, if honesty, courage, and compassion aren’t enough to get you to open your wallet or your mouth, then you might at least swing by the Kucinich campaign store. They have a coffee mug that’s very tempting, and a kerchief for your dog that’s practically irresistible.


Naomi Graychase first registered to vote in 1990. The first election in which she was old enough to vote was 1992. At that time, she was living in Washington, DC doing an internship at the Smithsonian. She spent her free time touring the museums and monuments of her nation's capitol, and volunteering for the Clinton/Gore campaign. She shook Governor Clinton's hand once, as he was arriving at the Washington Hilton (which she recognized as the site of the Reagan assassination attempt, an event which she watched on TV at the age of nine while sitting in a bar with her father. )

Naomi took the results of the last two elections very hard, but she has tried to do her part to combat the darkness at work in American society and politics by forming Sister Spit Northampton, registering voters, and encouraging others through her writing, performances, and speaking engagements to do what is necessary in times of darkness: make more light.

After voting in four Presidential elections, she's batting .500, which would be good if she were a slugger, but which feels pretty crummy, given how many people have died as a result of President Bush remaining in office.

Despite having nearly lost her faith in the Supreme Court, the democratic process, and the American electorate, she is still moved to tears every time she enters a polling place. She loves to vote. I mean, she LOVES to vote.

If you have abandoned your town's voting booth, if you've given up on the democratic process or the American electorate, she hopes that you will see that this is what the bad guys are counting on. She hopes that you will re-emerge, stronger, determined, more optimistic, and that you will re-discover the beautiful privilege of voting for yourself. People died so that you could do this. Don't let them down.

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