From Marietta, Ohio 45750
The Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner
I love county-level political events.
Unlike major Washington, DC-based events or national political conventions, the people who come to Lincoln Day (on the GOP side) or Jefferson-Jackson Day (for the Dems) dinners, or county picnics during the summer, or participate in parades are the people who are truly the backbone of American politics.
The tickets to the event here at the local Shrine hall were, I think $35 per head. Silent auction, extra. The meal itself would have cost $85 each at a restaurant in downtown Washington.
I am certainly not opposed to events that bring in the high rollers. You don't have to have a PhD in political science to understand that an event that will attract 50 guests at $1,000 per will raise a lot more money than an even that has 250 people at $35 each. ($50,000 vs. $8,750.)
County events are a collection of people who know each other. In a county like Washington (one of Ohio's 99), these same people belong to the Rotary, or Lion's clubs or the Masonic lodge.
They are retailers, run small engineering, public relations, or manufacturing firms. Or they are the lawyers and CPAs who support them.
Their spouses are school teachers or scout leaders or manage the Sunday school at their church.
These are people who could have moved to, and been successful in, Columbus, or L.A. or New York, but they chose to stay here.
They have known each other since grade school. They played on the same teams in Little League or Legion Ball. They had the same teachers in high school - or they are the high school teachers and the Little League coaches.
They remember the same stories and retell them with relish every time they get together - the rolling eyes of their spouses notwithstanding. They tell the stories at their Saturday golf game, or their regular Thursday girls-night-out dinner.
At election time they walk their precincts and drop of materials at the homes of people they know are Republicans and skip the homes of the people who are Democrats (or the other way around). They know which is which without computer print-outs or micro-targeting reports because they knew their parents were Republicans (or Democrats).
When they attend a Lincoln or Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner they don't come back later asking for an Ambassadorship to France or an appointment to a national Commission. They might need a curb cut for the new garage to house the truck they just bought for their business, but $35 isn't likely to buy that decision.
It doesn't matter if MSNBC is pushing the most Liberal Democrat, or Fox is pushing the most Conservative Tea Party candidate. It doesn't matter what the national print reporters are tweeting about, or what the cable punditry is focused on.
These people are trying to elect members of the City Council. Or County Commissioners. Or local judges. Or a State Representative.
I got to talk about being Dan Quayle's and Newt Gingrich's press secretary and being a senior advisor on the Fred Thompson campaign. I think they liked hearing about my being on TV with Donna Brazile and Bob Beckel, but only in the way they might thumb through a magazine in the checkout line at the supermarket.
This Lincoln Day dinner was special for me because I've known many of these people for decades - the MC, in fact, said that next year will mark our 40th year of knowing one another.
They listened to me on the radio as the local news director. They saw me covering events - both news events and community events. One person reminded the audience that a long-ago Mayor declared I was a major pain in his "posterior."
I was a City Councilman here. Many of the people at the dinner voted for me, lo those many years ago. Nancy Hollister, the woman who took my Council seat when we moved to DC went on to become the Lt. Governor of Ohio.
She was there, too.
The Mullings Director of Standards & Practices and our son were born here.
If you wonder why I make such a big deal about Marietta, Ohio 45750 it’s because, as I said in my remarks "I wasn't born here, I wasn't raised here, but I came of age here."
Small cities, in small counties are the backbone of American politics and, in a very real way, are the heart and soul of the American dream.