The Battle Ahead

A Fool In NH Column Heading

It was certainly an uncomfortable afternoon as the existing members of the Flatlander Party got together last Saturday for our yearly Spring Fling brunch.
Our party’s recent trouncing in the past election for governor has not sat well with many of the longtime party members and folks are antsy for a change.
The elephant in the room, besides the photos of actual elephants brought back by on member on her recent safari to Africa, was my perennial (and some would say ad naseum) candidacy.
The Spring Fling brunch is not designed to discuss who the next candidate might be. It is supposed to be a time of fellowship and camaraderie. There are usually a few new possible members there and as we try to grow the party so we realize that talking about our constant failure year after year after year might have the opposite effect.
Still, there were many whispers among longtime members, gathered in their small cliques, thinking about the future and what changes would be needed to increase our influence in politics in general.
As in any election, economics was going to play a big part. The funds of the party were small, but investment in the last election was significant and there was still quite a bit of inventory on hand to be considered.
The party had invested a large sum on having my photograph printed on thousands of oversized cardboard mailers to send out to possible voters across the state. The only problem was that, once the oversized cardboard mailers were paid for, there was no money left in the budget for postage. With this huge inventory lying around, it is going to make it harder to pick a different candidate for the next election.
There are also lawn signs that were picked up and cleaned off after the dust of the election settled. They are ready to be used again.
Going into the brunch, I was well aware of what the temperature in the room would be. Add to that the heat from the many Sternos keeping the buffet food lukewarm in the Grange Hall where the event was held and it was rather sticky (as were the scalloped potatoes).
One of my functions at the gathering was to schmooze up to a few of the new potential members. I was, after all, somewhat of a celebrity having run for office so many times. If they didn’t know my face, they had most likely seen one of my lawn signs.
As far as many of the longtime members, I did receive a rather icy reception from many. There was that forced cordiality, but bubbling under the surface there was an apparent uncertainty. They knew that my head just might be on the chopping block come the next convention and they were unsure of where to place their loyalties.
One of the more uncomfortable moments of the event was when one of the more vocal members to my continued candidacy entered the room. It was no secret he had intentions to claim the crown for himself come next year.
He was young, a fresh face, some bold ideas and, most importantly, had money connections.
It was an awkward moment when we both reached for the flimsy metal spoon used to scoop the now less than even lukewarm corned beef hash. He insisted I go first, but I deferred. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, all eyes upon us, until he finally reached for the spoon, took a heap of hash and then, in a moment that was all his, placed it on gently my plate.
I heard a small gasp go through the crowd. We both knew he had that victory. I walked to my table, trying to keep my head as high as possible.
The rest of the brunch was uneventful. There were a few speakers saying the usual things that are said at such events. Still, I wasn’t paying attention. All I could do was stare at that heap of hash on my plate. It almost looked as though it were mocking me.
Once the event was over, I shook as many hands as I could as I put on my bravest face, but I could tell the damage had been done.
I went home that night feeling a bit down. I knew that I was about to be in the battle of my life next year if I wanted to be the candidate once again.
I knew that maybe not even thousands of oversized cardboard mailers with my face on them that were already paid for and dozens of used lawn signs might not be enough to save me.
The fight was on.

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