Clipping and Saving

There is one good thing to be said of a life lived with more than its share of risks-you end up with a lot of memories. I have been clipping and saving some of those memories from the last year to amuse and inform some future nieces or nephews. My two girls swear that children are not in their future. Hopefully, it's a little too early to tell.”

Among those clippings peeking out from their manila blanket are interesting tidbits earned through a political campaign. Leafing through I had almost forgotten that I had signed the ethics pledge for the League of Women Voters which says, "I PLEDGE to conduct an informative and issue-oriented Campaign…I ALSO WILL NOT use or permit the use of any campaign material or advertisement which misrepresents, distorts, or otherwise falsifies the facts regarding my opponent(s)." As noble as this effort is on the part of the League, I am not sure that we are going about this the right way. The flood of mud from every corner tells me that we are focusing on the wrong person. The person we really need to target is the voter. How about this idea: Before entering the booth on election day, every voter must sign a pledge NOT TO VOTE for any candidate that can't stand on his own two issues and sullies the American political system by misrepresenting, distorting or otherwise falsifying the facts regarding their opponents. Talk about stopping on a dime. I can already feel the chill blowing through the boardrooms of Madison Avenue ad companies and local power broker's backrooms…and backstudios. Sad to say, there was one candidate in Henderson County who failed to sign and return the League of Women Voter's Ethics Pledge.

Here is another receipt that evokes an interesting memory, a cable television commercial. Believe me, it isn't as glamorous as you think. It might be a red carpet moment for those national candidates with a retinue of assistants, make up artists and hairdressers, but for the grassroots candidate on a budget, it's drive yourself there, lipstick in the girl's bathroom and mumbling a 30 second script that seems as complicated as the Gettysburg Address. Unlike the $200,000 plus price tag for national commercials, locally produced ones are very affordable. The initial shoot is $300.00 and you can run it for a week on several stations more times than anyone but your mother cares to see for $500.00. Stardom, anyone?

There were only two glitches from my brush with celluloid fame--a headstrong computer printer that kept printing in the middle of filming and having to find a school library in an adjacent county. Being a school teacher by profession, it seemed only obvious that I would want to use a school setting for the commercial. I had already made it clear to the producer that this was not going to be a "kissing babies, adoring family" endeavor and that I wanted something that treated the voter intelligently. I called our school superintendent to ask permission to use one of our libraries for a backdrop. I carefully explained to him that I would not identify the school and that I would choose a time that would not interfere with school activities. Well, it took less than three hours for a united front of three to let me know that they didn't think that was in the best interest of Henderson County Schools. In a rather intense discussion with our school system's lawyer, I pointed out that these schools were taxpayer supported facilities and were dedicated in part to teaching and promoting the American ideals of democratic government. Government, you'all means politics.

Isn't it just a tad hypocritical to demand that all students salute the flag every morning and then deny a citizen the opportunity to record his/her message so that the very system they are pledging to uphold can continue? It's simply amazing how many citizens don't realize that politics and democracy are in the same shoebox. What is equally amazing is that school systems only miles apart can have a totally different understanding of the democratic process. I am most thankful that this neighboring school system was more attuned to the meaning of democracy and happy to oblige.

I might add that I feel just as saddened for school officials as I do for the many gated communities in Henderson County who fly the biggest American flags and yet refuse to allow independent candidates to collect signatures. Something is amiss.

Fortunately though, things are not amiss in places like Riverwind, River Oaks or Mills River Village. Now there are some great hospitable communities. They were polite if they didn't want to sign my ballot petition and enthusiastic when they did. Many stopped to chat and one gentlemen even strolled with me for a bit. Tucked away on a Riverwind back street, I discovered a wonderful artist. In true Riverwind fashion, she invited me inside to see her art. (I was so impressed that I later took my youngest daughter Julia by just to absorb her "joie de vivre.")

There are a few more thoughts on this political adventure that I would like to share with you but the Editor's ruler is headed for my knuckles. So, I will tuck my memories back in, close the manila cover carefully and turn out the light until we strike up a conversation again.

(Rest assured The ladies shall rise again. If you are a women who has an interest in community affairs, please join us, the Council for Women, for dessert and coffee at our regular meeting January 13 at 5:30 p.m. held at the Unitarian-Universalist Church located off Kanuga Road.)

To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts on the matter?
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*The opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions, Inc.
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