The party vs. the people

Five O'Clock Tea, by Mary Cassatt


Christine O’Donnell has my admiration and my empathy. I fought the country club Republicans on a much lower level and I lost. She persevered and won.

Most of us want people to like us and it’s hard to stand up and make yourself a target. It’s even difficult to stand up at a meeting of our own kind – whatever that is, i.e. social club, church, P.T.A., or in this instance my own political party, – and speak what’s on our heart, if we think it will go against the grain. It’s rough to look at disapproving faces and hear your words twisted and demonized.

The powers-that-be want to keep it an exclusive club. The Good Old Boy network was designed to keep us (the riffraff) out.

Hooray for Christine!

After September 11, 2001, I dipped my toe in the political pool. The uncertainty of our nation’s future concerned me and I believed that it was time to get involved. Joe and I began attending the Republican meetings for our county. A women’s group was forming and I attended and got involved. One year I served as secretary of the group, then as vice-president. I attended district meetings, workshops and ran a fund-raiser. We were a small but active group. Our president couldn’t run again because our constitution limited service to 2 terms. So I decided to run for president for the next year. I had some good ideas, was enthusiastic and seemed to have the support of some of the members.

Then we had an informal officers meeting and the husband of one of our other board members not only attended, and not only entered into the discussion – he tried to choose the next president for us. I don’t know why he felt entitled to try to call the shots. Perhaps because he was one of the movers and shakers in the county party. Maybe because he thought a lot of himself. I don’t know.

As a women’s club, the men were allowed to join, but never to voice opinions or try to control anything in any way.

Needless to say, I was not his choice for the next president of the club. He preferred a rather pushy woman who had only recently joined.

She was country club. I was trailer house.

Even if it hadn’t been me that was running, I would’ve felt that it was too early for anyone to become president after only 6 months of membership.

Now bear in mind that there are lots and lots of trailers and very few people who qualify for country club membership in our rural county. That I had worked hard for the party, and had even become an election precinct chairman didn’t matter.

The group decided to ignore the man’s preference and elected me and things went sort-of-okay for awhile.

The woman, who shall henceforth be referred to as C.C.W. (Country Club Woman), was elected to another board position and she proceeded to make things difficult for me from the word go. Very difficult. She rode me like a harpy. In fact, it was so stressful dealing with her that I broke out in hives.

Then I had a debilitating health problem and I couldn’t cope with her constant haranguing and my health problem, so I quit taking her calls for a week or two. She went berserk.

In hindsight, I can see that it wasn’t a wise thing to do, but I had about reached the end of my rope with her. I recuperated some and got back into the swing of things, but she grew even more and more difficult to deal with.

She was in charge of the fund raiser and absolutely refused to abide by the state law concerning donations. Had we been cited by the state for violations, the treasurer (not C.C.W) would’ve been in serious trouble. It was a jail-able offense. Time and time again I told her to stay within the confines of the law and she flat-out refused. She said that the club she’d belonged to in the state she used to live in did it that way and that she couldn’t raise money if she followed the Texas law.

I consulted officers from the state level as well as state officials. They all said that she couldn’t do what she was doing. But she wouldn’t stop. I was told that at a fund-raiser committee meeting, Carla-bashing was a favorite topic.

Then it came to a head at a board meeting. I said flat out that she had to stop. She got upset and said in that case, she would resign. I asked if there was a motion to accept her resignation, which there was, it was seconded and accepted.

The next day she changed her mind but it was too late. I’d had enough. She denied that she had resigned but I had (legally) tape-recorded the meeting (at the beginning of the tape I announced that it was being taped and then did a roll call).

Then I did something stupid. We had arranged for a workshop in our county and I tried to cancel it – only one of our officers was going to attend; our club was in tatters. C.C.W. was going to attend and it was going to get ugly. The state officers wouldn’t allow us to cancel.

C.C.W. got busy. If I was Davy Crockett (this is for the sake of analogy only and to illustrate that she had the big guns on her side; no way do I think I’m on a par with Davy Crockett), she was Santa Ana. She worked and got the good-old-boy network behind her. The county judge really let me have it. If he yelled at other people the way he yelled at me, then I understand why he was defeated in the following primary.

The organization’s state officials all supported her. Our district representative to the state organization backed her. It got worse before it got better. Except for the vice-president (who sided with C.C.W) all of the board members dropped out of the club and county politics.

When I failed to get any visible support from the county party officials, I resigned as precinct chairman. They appointed a RINO (Republican in Name Only) to run our precinct election, which meant that the Democrats once more ran the polling place the way they wanted. I had made them do it by the book and they probably hated me.

So, all this is to say that, like Christine O’Donnell, I brought along my own baggage. I wasn’t perfect but I wanted to serve and make a difference, and maybe I did for about 3 years. Until I hit the snob wall.

My sincere wish is that more ordinary people run for every kind of office. I hope they’ll be tougher than I was and thicker-skinned.

Phooey on Party-approved candidates over People-approved candidates.

Again, yea grass-roots candidates!

Now, let’s all have a cup of tea to celebrate.

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2 Comments

Filed under Politics

2 responses to “The party vs. the people

  1. What an awful story to read, Carla. As I read, I felt such empathy for you. Politics can be so petty, and unfair.

    But here’s my take on it. The devil doesn’t want good, Christian people involved in politics any more than he wants us in church, so he exposes us to awful, un-Christian people in both, hoping to make us wash our hands of both.

    Hang tough, friend. I believe God has allowed the tea party movement to thrive to remind us that we CAN have a voice — so we should keep using it!

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