Tag Archives: election

I’m Coming Out of the Closet

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No, not THAT closet. The closet in my front hallway, which is where I like to hide out when propaganda-laden neighbors try to beat down the front door and my kids come home from school.

You think you’ve got it hard? Try living in a subdivision where only .00019387% of the residents support your candidate. It’s like The Hunger Games around here just trying to put up a lawn sign.

Katniss Everdeen’s got nothing on me when I’m putting an Obama bumper sticker on my car. (Image via the fantasy dreamlike sequences that often invade my brain.)

Colorado’s electoral votes may be up from grabs today, but everyone knows that’s based largely on the growing prison population in Canon City and all of those weirdos who live in Boulder.

“What? I’m at a college football game? I thought this was an Obama rally!” (Image via some lady in Boulder sitting next to me at a college football game.)

Out here in suburban Utopia, where unicorns fly children to school every day and teachers would rather be paid in happy face stamps than cash, things look a little different. 

That’s my neighbor, taking a little joy ride in his Gulf Stream C-37. (Image via my unsuspecting neighbor, who didn’t know I took this picture, but would nevertheless approve this message.)

So at the risk of having my house egged, TP’d, and someone stealing the limited edition Barack Obama bobblehead doll I have buried upside down in the front yard for good luck, I’m coming out of the closet. Someone has to be the voice of reason around here, and since the other three Democrats in the neighborhood are riding out the election in their state-of-the-art political fallout shelter/wine cellars, I’m stepping up to the plate.

Who cares who wins the election? I’m getting tanked down here! (Image via someone with a lot of cash.)

Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama:

1. As much as I like to talk about my big balls I was, in fact, born with a vagina. 

2. Contrary to what liberal-leaning Supreme Court Justices want you to believe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg may in fact be nothing more than the airbrushed image of her former self. According to someone on the radio who sounds a lot like Rush Limbaugh, Tupac and Justice Ginsburg are the two most famous holograms ever to appear at the Coachella Music Festival.

Tupac’s from Kenya too, right?

3. Because Donald Trump isn’t.

4. Since I was blessed with a vagina at birth, I want it to be happy.

That’s my vagina after two margaritas. OK, that’s not really mine, but isn’t it cute?

 

5. Because I believe in giving back. Take for instance, my neighbor down the street with the ginormous Romney sign tattooed onto the back window of his A8. He’s a retired CFO who works at H&R Block four months out of the year and then collects unemployment benefits to cover utilities and taxes for his beach house. He’s too busy customizing the shaft of his seven-iron to even realize he’s part of the 47%!

I found this by googling “Old guy swinging golf club.” I’m serious. Try it. (Image via guardian.co.uk.)

6. I’m voting for Barack Obama in honor of my mom. As a teacher, principal, and VP for a non-profit family literacy organization, she chose a career of service rather than one lined with stock options. Even though she could have set me up with a sweet trust fund, and instead gave me, like, a college education (whatevs!), gravity dictates that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Don’t mess with my mom.

And for all of my well-intended Republican friends who are plotting to take me to lunch this afternoon and slip me a ruffie so I can’t make it to the polls? Too late. Just like you, I’ve already cast my vote.

So that’s it. I’m out in the open, and even though I’ve now put my life into your hands, I’m not worried. My uber-supportive husband picked up an awesome disguise at the WalMart after-Halloween sale last week so I can leave the house unharmed.

My husband knows a patriot when he sees one. (Image via victoriassecret.com)

I Said I’d Never Write About Politics, But I Know Paul Ryan and I’ve Got Some Advice.

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Who am I to Paul Ryan? No one and everyone.

I’m a forty-two year old suburban mom who knew Paul in college. I’m also a registered Democrat who has voted for both parties over the last twenty-four years. I live in Colorado, a state that offers electoral votes crucial to the outcome of this year’s presidential race. I’m a bleeding heart who lives in a gated community. I’m self-sufficient, yet I feel a responsibility to help others who are in need. As a voter, I’m a pretty interesting mix, difficult to label and hard to define. In my experience, most women are, and from what I understand, our demographic will be a deciding factor in November.

Who is Paul Ryan to me? Someone to watch.

As a U.S. citizen, I’m troubled by the precarious spot our nation occupies on an international chessboard of pieces in constant flux. I don’t support finger-pointing and placing blame for an economy that was weakened by both parties as much as free will. I’m concerned about the future of my children. I dislike negative politics and am frustrated by the inability of our bipartisan House and Senate to find common ground. I’m an optimist who believes tomorrow will be a brighter day, but I see real storm clouds in my direct line of sight. I want our country to move forward, and I’m worried about falling behind.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend. I vote with my head and I vote with my heart. I read. I listen. I debate. I decide. I’m a potential liability and asset to both campaigns.

Three generations of women who don’t always vote the same way. Image via Stacie Chadwick

And with Mitt Romney’s introduction of Paul Ryan as his running mate, I’m now engaged in this race in a way that I hadn’t been before. Maybe it’s the deepening differences I see in the platforms of the two opposing parties. Better yet, a curiosity around the potential impact of a clear, if not controversial voice. Perhaps it’s due simply to the fact that I know Paul. More likely, it’s my hope that he’ll take the time to reacquaint himself with me, and by that I mean millions of women like me who will vote in the upcoming election.

I also consider Paul to be a friend. Am I jumping on the bandwagon headed straight from Janesville, WI to a national stage? Probably. Although I’ve followed his career, I haven’t spoken with Paul in over twenty years. But something about his addition to the shape of our legislative landscape piques my interest. Regardless of political beliefs, I’m proud that we graduated in the same class at Miami, watched votes together in the Senate gallery when we interned in D.C., and hung out on campus. I’m betting on an accurate memory of the person he was when we were college kids masquerading as adults, and a time-honored belief that as individuals, we don’t really change. In the heat of battle, we often forget the people behind the politics. I knew him as a smart, ambitious, honest guy with Midwestern values and a focused vision. I’m sure he still is. And now? He’s running for Vice President of the United States of America. When I tell my children that they can be anyone they want to be, I can now point to someone I know who is.

Children masquerading as adults. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

So surrounded by a cacophony of shrieks and giggles sung by kids who are stealing the last ounce out of summer on their way back to school, enough dirty laundry to fill a semi, and a stack of bills, I’m doing what I said I never would. I’m flipping my position and writing about politics. I’m offering unsolicited advice to someone who pays people to advise him. I do this because I’m a woman and a friend. It’s my nature. Humor me.

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Dear Paul,

Mitt Romney’s misspoken reference to you as “the next president of the United States” plays directly into what should be the underlying backbone of your political strategy. Run with a broader vision than the role of Vice President and set your own course.

Show us how you simultaneously lower government spending and make a real commitment to education and job creation. As mothers, we have children who are high school dropouts and can’t support themselves, and post-college boomerang kids who are underemployed. We understand that there’s a real chance their generation will reach a ceiling constructed at a lower height and of lesser materials than ours, buttressed by flawed trusses and support beams. Show us a concrete plan to correct a system that’s broken and produces students who continue to slide behind other countries in core curriculum, is rooted in the industrial age, and pays teachers much less than what they’re worth.

Addressing the economy is a given, so consider looking at it from our point of view. As mothers and wives, we’re often the emotional backbone as well as a financial anchor for our families. What we earn in a paycheck we give back in time spent away from our children. Dig deeper than budget cuts and tax reform in addressing our role in this issue, and show your sensitivity to our increasingly complex jobs.

The Wall Street Journal has championed your cause for years, but the majority of its readership is already part of your base. Embrace media outlets that will challenge your voice, but give you a long runway. With your intelligence and passion, a successful one-on-one with someone like Katie Couric could be a brilliant move, made more so by the failure of your predecessor’s endeavor.

Show us how you privatize Medicare without decimating it. We’re the daughters of aging parents and the mothers of children with disabilities, and often serve as emotional and physical lifelines to three generations of our family. We’re taxed and we’re tired, and yes, a little scared.

Disclose your tax statements. Immediately.

Follow your heart. The ugly side of bipartisanship is based on a world painted in black and white, when most of reality exists in various shades of gray.

Channel Alex Trebek and brush up on foreign affairs. You already know that Syria is further away from Wisconsin than Russia is from Alaska, so silence the naysayers.

Dial down the camo and the ammo. There’s a large group of undecided female voters who will roll their SUVs to save one of the thousands of overpopulated jackrabbits darting in front of their truck as they race off to the grocery store to figure out what’s for dinner.

Give us a small glimpse of the family behind the photo op. To the extent it’s not invasive, let us see the side of your life that we live every day…dropping the kids off at school after the tardy bell rings and staying up late to watch the Olympics as laughter turns to tired tears. We’ll relate to the emotions behind the smiles on your annual holiday card because we know how many tries it takes to get the perfect picture.

My family had to climb a fourteener, build a guard rail, and go without water for three days to get this pic. OK, not really, but it felt like it. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

You’re a well-versed, physical, engaging public speaker: use your open hand gesture and tone down the finger pointing. The first makes us feel included and the second one doesn’t.

You’re an athlete, you vacation in Colorado, and you love the outdoors. It might be a good idea to take a well-documented run through our great state. There are a lot of thirty to fifty year-old female voters who are athletes, live in Colorado, and love the outdoors.

Act like both a CEO and a salesman. Use your gut to champion causes and finesse to drive them home. Women follow people we trust and hire people we like.

Translate the budget deficit into a language we understand: a realistic picture of how the current trajectory will impact our children and our grandchildren’s lives is much more meaningful than rhetoric.

You’re at the heart of our demographic, and your youthful enthusiasm is appealing. Don’t run away from your age.

As women and constituents, we’re straight, gay, wealthy, and poor. We’re married, divorced, widowed, and single. We’re CFOs of corporations and Treasurers of the family budget. We’ve started businesses that have flourished and others that have failed. We’ve decimated our savings accounts and we’ve cut our discretionary spending to build them back up. We’ve sacrificed for our families and feel a twinge of guilt whenever we take time for ourselves. We’re smart, dedicated, and we care about the future of our country. We’re uneasy about the prospect of war but are passionately committed to taking care of our soldiers. We’re healers who want to leave the world a better place for our children than the one we gave them, and we’re not sure that we can.

We vote with our heads, and we vote with our hearts. Understanding the significance of that phrase is the key to your success in our demographic. Your introduction to this race has attracted our attention. My best unsolicited advice? Find a way to keep it.

Regards,

Stacie Whitten Chadwick

No matter where you go, your friends will always have your back. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment. My only request is that you refrain from personal attacks and inflammatory statements. Due to the polarizing nature of the subject matter, this is my first and last foray into politics. I think.

I Think I Threw the Presidential Election

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No, not that election. The Eastern High School Class of 1988 presidential race. Like, duh.

I’m not kidding when I say there’s a real chance I may have tainted the results. Add the fact that I was actually one of the candidates, and you’ve got the makings of an Academy Award-winning thriller. Think All The President’s Men plus really big hair, raging hormones, dried out Clearasil acne wipes, and teen angst, and you’ve pretty much got the seedlings of a plot. (O.K., so maybe my story isn’t Oscar-caliber material, but it’s at least BAFTAish, or something the International Indian Film Academy would really like).

Tricky Dick. Image via Flickr.

Anyway, in order to move forward in life we sometimes need to go back. In this case, all the way to 1984, when as an EHS freshman, I ran for and won the Vice Presidential race. Back then, Eastern was the home of the fighting eagles, Future Farmers of America (FFA wants your offspring, especially if Jon Junior knows how to wield a scythe), the Rifle Team, and some sweet hamburger hash made in Home Ec. Serving as Vice President was totally awesome because:

Our lunch ladies loved serving hamburger hash.

1. Similar to other VPs, I didn’t have to actually do anything the entire time I held office. Our class President was the heavy lifter, and as Vice President, I just sat in the lunchroom at after-school meetings, nodded my head strenuously to everything she proposed, and threw back like, three Mountain Dews and five or six Little Debbie snack cakes in an hour. By the time we finished? I cruised out the door in a sugar-coated fog and laid down some serious back handsprings waiting for my mom to pick me up.

2. I trolled around every hallway and corridor in the building without a pass. In high school, the freedom to go where you wanted, when you wanted traded like jail cell currency.  Because I was an elected official, our super-sleuth security guard who busted kids for smoking in the bathroom, cutting class, and bad personal hygiene, just smiled and waved whenever I walked by.

3. Major action in the yearbook. Check out the ginormous pic on the front page of the freshman class section. That’s me in the top left corner with braces, cloisonné earrings, and my eyes closed. I’m probably taking a nap.

I wanted asymmetrical hair sooo bad. But Mom said no.

All in all, being VP was pretty great until all hell broke loose the summer before sophomore year when our reigning President’s family decided to move. Left with a gaping hole at the top of our ranks after summer break, all eyes turned to you-know-who to fill the spot, which I was happy to do because:

1. I still had braces and thought that Class President credibility might deflect from the consistent cornucopia of processed lunch meat stuck between my teeth.

2. Class Officer status was the gateway to being voted Class Favorite. Class Favorite was the portal to, well, an entirely parallel universe of popularity…snagging both the best table in the cafeteria (if you beat the upperclassmen through the lunch line), and the back row on the bus (unless you had a friend with an older brother you could pay to drive you home).

3. I wanted that big picture in the yearbook again.

4. Winning would score major points with my mom.

With a fair amount of effort on my part and the support of my class blowing like the wind at my back, I won. Thrust into a position of real expectation, I surprised myself and thrived.

Life at the time was pretty sweet. Or so I thought. But every rise paves the way for a massive fall, and mine was bathed in a hue of true idiocy.

That's me at the bottom with my feet kicked back on the desk. And a stupid look on my face. And a Mountain Dew in my hand.

In an effort to make everyone happy that year, I played both sides to the middle.  Not in my Presidential duties…I was pretty solid there. I failed in the day-to-day details with my friends…the exact people who voted me into office, but more importantly, shared the highlights of my life.

Whenever my old school besties asked me to hang out on the weekend, I’d say yes, find out that my miscreant upper class boyfriend was going somewhere else with or without me, ditch my original plans, and follow him right down the road to my demise. Not only was I hanging out way too much with someone everyone else said was a waste of a second thought, I was spending zero time with the people who mattered; after saying I would, then bagging out at the last minute, making up a transparent excuse, and canceling plans. I was a total turncoat, or the slam of all high school slams, two-faced.

Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face in The Dark Knight

Image via Wikipedia.

Sitting under a heavy cloak of the damage I’d done, I half-heartedly ran for President again at the beginning of my junior year because, really, what incumbent doesn’t seek a second term? I lost (big shock), to my Sergeant-at-Arms who I thought had my back. But I was totally out of touch, and she probably thought I was doing drugs in the bathroom with my loser boyfriend (for the record I wasn’t), and was looking at a bigger picture than I wasn’t allowing myself to see.  All’s fair in love, war, and high school though, and today I hold no grudge.

Queen Bee (comics)

Class President and Queen Bee. Image via wikipedia.

By winter break, I truly felt the sting of loss. Not the election necessarily, but the gravity of important friendships I let slip away. So rather than spending my weekends pining after a guy who wasn’t going any further than juvie jail (that relationship is a blog in and of itself: totally cute rebel who walks the wrong side of the line and has a Pied Piper effect on anyone who crosses his path, or maybe not anyone, but definitely me), I got my act together. I dumped the loser, started dating a great guy (still older, but every girl I knew trended up), and began the process of fixing all of the important relationships I allowed to fall apart.

English: Studio publicity portrait for film Giant.

By the time senior year rolled around, I was back. Tight with my besties, focused on the future, and ready to run, again, for the spot at the top. I was lucky. My friends gave me a second chance, which isn’t the way every story unfolds.

Eyes clear and looking forward, I realized how much I missed being a leader while following someone else around, and I wanted my old job again. I made flyers, posters, buttons, and glitter-glued banners with my name in huge, neon-lettered sparkle paint. I promised a ski trip to the seniors if I was elected (yes, you can pledge whatever you want in high school and you can actually ski in Kentucky if you don’t mind face-planting down an ice hill in your long underwear and Jordache jeans), and envisioned plans for dances, parties, and prom. I chose a grassroots representative in every home room, spread the word, solicited votes, and put myself out there. I wanted to win. Bad.

But because I was seventeen, or stupid, or still a little too concerned with looking cool, I voted for the incumbent Prez when it came time to cast my ballot. Yes, I intentionally put my chit solidly behind the other team. In case I lost. Which I did. As fate and everyone voting that day decided it should be.

When the school Principal announced that the other girl had won, he made a point to note over the PA system for everyone to hear, that it was the closet class election in the history of our school. This meant nothing to everyone else and the world to me. So I got up, calmly walked out of class (my former officer status still bought me a free pass in the halls), slammed into the girl’s bathroom, and cried.

Big hair can hide your pain.

Had I lost by a vote? Handed-delivered the election to my opponent in a vain attempt to act like I didn’t care? Changed the course of history on that fateful day?

Probably not, but there are lessons to be learned here, and if anyone running for office or running away from the good things in life happens to stumble on this blog, you might consider taking my mistakes to heart.

1. Don’t take anyone for granted. Ever. Especially people you truly love.

2. Protect your base, because if you don’t? They’ll find someone else who will.

3. Stay away from anyone who might tarnish your reputation. Or does drugs. Or gets tossed out of school. Or goes to jail. Or treats you badly. Or is crazy. Or doesn’t floss. Or is a future embezzler. Or kicks your dog.

4. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

5. Don’t try to be all things to all people and try not to be anything to some.

So that’s it. My elected official days are long gone, which is good, because now that I’m writing, you never know when the skeletons in my closet might decide to wake up.