Rendered Fat Content


Jack Gould:
Untitled [several people holding political posters
and signs at mock convention]

The Muse works the passing crowd. The Pavilion at the Fair serves as its Grand Central Station. Families move through the aisles, stopping at booths to collect free handouts and enter raffles. One booth offers a free set of Bluetooth speakers; another, eternal salvation. The politicians do not dominate this space, though they are present: a city council candidate and The Muse, candidate for an open position on the local Port commission. I swear she can pull almost anyone in for at least a brief conversation—many last much longer as she makes some personal connection with the potential voter.

She starts with The Question, the qualifying question intended to winnow out those who cannot vote for her. "Are you a voter in this county?"
The Fair attracts people from the region, which extends beyond just the county the fair's held in, so she mostly avoids investing too much time in anyone living in Oregon, for instance, though there are exceptions. She explains that even Oregon residents have friends who live in the county, and a brief, memorable exchange might become a recommendation or a story. Word of mouth remains the very best form of promotion. Once you're qualified, one more question starts a conversation: Do you happen to know very much about The Port?

Most admit that they know little about The Port's operation, a response that earns them a Completely Normal designation for almost nobody knows very much of anything about their operation, and many who believe they understand it don't understand the half of it—all grist for further conversation. The Muse dips into her usual introduction, how she's running for office and looking for interested voters. She's running for the least understood of the essential local government positions. This often sparks some interest. The exchange goes where it goes from there, any of dozens of different directions, for she's making connections. If the prospect leaves having connected, they're more likely to remember her name when they receive their ballot. There's lots of noise in the channel. Personal connections work.

She's recruited supporters and her introverted husband to work the booth, but her booth really hums when she's on duty. She never rests, usually stands, and rarely stops talking. She seems genuinely pleased to greet everyone, even the one who responded to her qualifying question by apologizing for being a Republican. Her position's non-partisan. She has scads of Republican supporters.

As a candidate, she's self-qualifying, which means she suits her role. She's believable, approachable, and in good humor. She remained engaged even yesterday as she approached twelve hours on the stump. She's realized that she cannot expect anyone but herself to effectively campaign in her interest, though they try to contribute. Yesterday, a volunteer who resembles her was confusing potential voters. We introduced her as The Muse's doppelganger. Whatever it takes to stand out a little from the crowd. When The Muse is out roaming around, I introduce myself as her better half, which usually sparks a little laugh. Almost nobody comes to The Fair to engage in conversation about Economic Development agencies. The fudge booth frankly looks a whole lot more attractive. In the real world, people would rather vote for fudge than for anybody for any office.

The Repuglican's caravan features posters for every imaginable local candidate but not a single one for anyone vying for the presidency. They might have already ceded that race, but they're more likely avoiding baiting bears or Democrats. However confrontational their more controversial candidates and however unpopular their prominent stances on issues, this remains a family gathering. Nobody is burning anybody's barn down here. No hate speech seems proper in this venue, so even the budding fascists stay on the down low here. They ask if you're better off now than you were four years ago, and everyone I know replied with the answer they hoped not to elicit: Yes! A resounding Yes!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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