A very crowded convention floor in the ballroom of Greysolon Plaza. I took this picture after belting out the Star Spangled Banner with the delegates. I love singing that song and I can usually hit all the notes without too much difficulty.
I was expecting a small crowd like the one I spoke to in 1992. When I got there there was a never ending line of people waiting to be registered. I hadn’t brought enough of my cards to pass out and I was a little intimidated. I hadn’t been to a GOP convention since the Trump years began. A little shaken I headed home to grab a whole box of five hundred of them. On the way home I remined myself the My “grandfather didn’t cry when he was shot” and resolved to face whatever happened on my return.
I needn’t have worried. I spent an hour and a half chatting with folks until my mouth was dry introducing myself as some who would be challenging Pete Stauber. No one was truly hostile. I engaged in several spirited discussions and heard a few quiet words of concern about the things I seemed to be concerned about. Pete, of course, had many fans and I had no illusions that my political beliefs would be popular with by the people at the convention.
One man I’ll call Kris because he was bearded and immaculately groomed like the singer Kristopherson even took umbrage at my comment that I couldn’t be nominated from the floor. He vowed to fight for me to be given a chance to speak if I wanted it. Surprised I told him we could talk about it again. The speech I had hoped to give and eventually didn’t is the subject of the column I just sent last night to be published in next weeks Reader Weekly. I’m quite pleased with it.
I was satisfied to hand out my cryptic card to delegates and saw little point in a futile fight in what was already a very delayed convention. I’ll find other ways to get my message out to a more receptive audience before the August primary. When I saw my defender later he asked if I was ready to fight to speak and I told him I wasn’t worried about a tough crowd but aware that practically it would take up a lot of time that wouldn’t be helpful to the convention or me. I added that I knew my political positions would not be approved by the delegates. He was a little surprised probably thinking that I was even farther to the right than Pete. I noted the Mike Murphy button on his coat and said I was not a fan of Mike’s hardline politics which I’d picked up from his red meat speech to the convention earlier.
That piqued his curiosity and he asked me for more than my safe general call for more centrism in our nation’s politics. He asked me as a for instance my thinking about abortion to which I said I was pro-choice. To which he asked what I was even doing here. To which I replied that at my first Republican state convention the party had a pro-choice platform. Then he said he thought the Supreme Court’s Roe decision had been bad legal thinking. I had heard that argument before but before I had a chance to comment he added “I think the Brown versus Topeka decision was a bad decision.” I knew that there were “conservatives” who had thought such things about the Brown decision but the was the very first time I’d had it tossed out to me. I was prepared and delighted to tell Kris that I was the lucky product of that decision having been sent to my Topeka elementary school playground when hundreds of black children from a nearby segregated black school were ushered past me into my school. I told him it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
That must have been a shock to him because of course desegregation had a rough time after my cooperative community went along with the Court. “Yeah but forced bussing was wrong,” he said as our conversation drifted off. I have felt for years that my childhood experience is important and here was an example of how when we Americans divide ourselves we lose the opportunity to hear from our whole population.
As an extreme examination of where both parties are now ESPECIALLY FOR THE NEWS HATING REPUBLICAN PARTY was the conversation I had about “Furries.” A very smart businessman who recognized me as someone who knew his father came over to chat with me. We had a good conversation about a number of issues and then he asked me if I’d heard about “furries.” It sounded vaguely familiar but I told him I hadn’t. So he told me about emails he’s been exchanging with businessmen in the Midwest who have been sharing the news of rural school districts across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Furries are people who identify as animals like dogs and cats and who insist on being treated as such in classroom where they speak by meowing and barking at the feet of teachers. Momentarily taken aback by such a claim by an intelligent man with connections to other businessmen I could only shake my head.
I asked him about the cities where the school boards had OK’ed children acting like animals Eau Clair, Wisconsin. was one and maybe Salk Center Minnesota or maybe, he told me, it was St. Cloud. The uncertainty slightly undermined his confidence but I told him I’d check it out. I did. My businessman friend is not the only Republican to fall for this joke. The Party of Lincoln clearly needs me.
And here’s a selfie of me in a mirror that I took at the convention. I am no longer fearful of Republicans as people even if I have good reason to be fearful of the ideas they are inhaling. I am ready to wade through them all across the 8th District.