If you ever want to have a keen glimpse of what it is like feeling disheartened, I suggest you spend several decades as a Republican precinct worker in the City of Chicago. On this subject I speak from personal experience.
There are 2,069 election precincts in the City of Chicago. In the last twenty years, there is only one that consistently went to Republican candidates. That is less than five hundredths of one percent. Sadly, my work on behalf of Republican candidates did not occur in that particular precinct.
So why did my colleagues and I persist in this nearly masochistic endeavor? The answer is simple. We continued to beat our heads against the wall and get beaten up by our opponents because we believed that what we were doing was the right thing.
Back in the days when I was involved in local Chicago politics it was much more difficult to get out the vote, such as there was of it, than today. There was no such thing as early voting. If you wanted to exercise your civic responsibility you either had to apply for an absentee ballot or you had to show up personally at the poll on Election Day.
Many of those who voted Republican were senior citizens. And with elections taking place in November, one of the major responsibilities for precinct workers was driving them to the polling place and then returning them to their residences and picking up the next group so that they could avoid the generally inclement weather.
The work was anything but glamorous but it was necessary to try to get out every single voter in order to try to reduce the plurality of votes that we knew would be cast by our opponents. While we knew there was no chance that a Republican would win a local office, there still was the possibility that the party could elect someone for statewide or national office.
Sometimes accomplishing this, I am a little embarrassed to say, involved offering the voter a small bribe. I recall one conversation I had with a lady who is now deceased, Estelle Schwartz. She was feeling a bit under the weather and it was particularly cold that Election Day. She was concerned about catching pneumonia while waiting in the line to get into the polls.
Despite my great powers of persuasion, I could tell that her fear of illness was overcoming my oratory. So I asked her, “Estelle, do you like jam?” She responded that she liked certain jams a lot. So I said, “I just made up two batches of jams. Would you prefer strawberry or blackberry?” The word “blackberry” struck a chord and her face lit up. “Does your blackberry jam have a lot of seeds?” I explained that I had removed the seeds before putting it in the half pint mason jars. This was a good thing because apparently the seeds worked their way under her dentures. So I drove Mrs. Schwartz to and back from the polls and early that evening when the polls had closed dropped off some blackberry jam for her. (She told me later that she had enjoyed the jam a great deal).
Despite all the efforts that my co-workers and I exerted, we knew going in to each election that we were going to lose. And yet we kept putting forth our best efforts. That is truly a lonely feeling – and most of my non-political friends thought I was either crazy, stupid or both. Perhaps they were right.
And that brings me to the subject of the junior senator from the State of Texas, Ted Cruz. As I write this he has just concluded his marathon speech on the floor of the U. S. Senate – protesting, as he promised he would when he was elected, to do everything within his power to disable, defund or destroy the law best known as Obamacare. He is fighting a losing battle. I am confident that Senator Cruz realizes that.
So why did this freshman senator engage in this futile effort? Several more senior Republican senators and conservative commentators have suggested that this is merely an exercise in self-promotion. They further suggest that this strategy, with its possibility of shutting down the federal government, with have adverse implications for the Republican party in the mid-term elections next year. Perhaps one or both of those statements are true.
But while those who are part of the Washington establishment focus themselves on the possible results of the next election, they have lost sight of the fact that in following their middle of the road mediocrity, they have lost the country and our Constitutional government with its promise of rights and protections.
So my hat is off to Sen. Ted Cruz and to those few other Republican senators of principal who stood up with him, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio. If this country has any hope of returning to a Constitutional Republic and to get us back on the path of rationality, it is men and women like these who will lead that effort.
And to those who are primarily motivated by their concern for getting re-elected rather than by doing the right thing for America, I would tell them that they did not deserve to serve the people in the first place and most certainly do not deserve to be retained by them.