Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Steve, Pretty Women, and Senator McConnell

Dear Senator McConnell:

While watching primary election results last night, I remembered Steve. Immediately, I regretted the fact that I often mention the negative attention my bumper stickers attract but seldom share stories about how they bring people like Steve into my life.

It’s true that my anti-war bumper stickers draw more middle fingers than thumbs up, but I think that reflects more on the types, not numbers, of people who sit on opposite sides of this fence. It is also true that I have too many bumper stickers on my piece-of-junk car, and that I claim that I need them to hold it together, which might mean some of those middle fingers are from people who consider my car an eye-sore. And it is true that I blame red-necked-war-mongers who don't like my bumper stickers for the repeated acts of vandalism my car has suffered, and it's true that I have come to that conclusion based on the fact that while I'm in the car, grown men hang out their truck windows to shout obscenities and insult my President so I can only imagine what they might do when I'm not in it. I know my messages bring out the worst in rednecks who see them, and it is true that sometimes these men scare me but I refuse to let them silence me.

But none of those negative experiences matter as much to me as the warm smiles, silent nods of acceptance, understanding eyes, or new friends I meet because of my bumper stickers – like Steve, the Viet Nam veteran who stopped to tell me how much he appreciates my car. He stopped at my home specifically to tell me that passing my car each day made him smile, and to thank me. For months, he stopped when he saw me on the porch and we talked politics, sometimes for hours.

One day, he came by and took me to lunch to celebrate his brainstorm. He knew exactly how to get rid of our sorry rubber-stamp-for-Bush congresswoman. “Run a young, attractive female against her and she’ll be history,” he insisted. “Obviously, the people who elect her aren’t paying attention to what she’s doing.” He decided that my daughter was the perfect candidate since she was beautiful and informed, and promised to raise the money she needed to run.

“She’s barely out of diapers,” I reminded him, disregarding the fact that he hadn’t suggested that I was attractive enough for the job. That was a slight exaggeration, but she wasn’t old enough to order a drink. That daughter jumped on the idea but discovered it was not possible to get around the age requirement and the other beautiful, informed daughter was too busy raising her children to run. I know you probably don’t share my opinion that we were fortunate when the community convinced John Yarmuth to run and Bush lost one rubber-stamp, or my relief to know that the Democrats could beat her without relying on superficial Republican votes for a pretty woman.

My dilemma after watching last night’s election results was in trying to decide if I am a victim of wire-tapping, or if Steve wandered over to the dark side. Or could it be a coincidence that the Republican Party is now running thoughtless, unethical, ill-informed pretty faces because they know, just like Steve did, that their party cares nothing about substance or ethics?

It is no secret, Senator McConnell, that I hope your days in the Senate are numbered. I wish you no harm, just a happy, healthy retirement. But I will be very disappointed if your party allows a loud-mouthed, disgraceful, tea-party pretty-face to run you off the ticket. I hope, since you’ve sworn off moving this country forward, you will use your remaining power to straighten out this problem in your party. Rand Paul should cover this state’s share of embarrassing candidates for decades to come.