“Mom for President” campaign may have hinged on the jelly

Categorized as 11/07/11 Goshen News column

I’m seeing a trend here.  They’re all doing it, and if I want to hop in while there’s still time, I’d better get crackin’.

It’s the presidential campaign.  Still a year out, it’s dominating the news.  Everyone’s writing about it, including the candidates themselves.  And that’s what I’m talking about. It was during the last election cycle in 2008.  Feeling the weight of civic duty and with a deep, abiding love for God, country, Mom, apple pie, cross country, and Starbucks mochas in my heart, I did the only responsible thing I knew to do.  “I think a mother of boys could straighten out this mess,” the initial press release stated.  “And that’s why I’m running for office.  You know, the oval one with that cool desk and the spectacular drapes that didn’t come from J. C. Penney?”  And with that announcement, the official “Mom for President” campaign was underway.  In the weeks that followed, I laid out my platform.  I’d be tough on crime (just ask the local pantry pirates).  I could empty the prisons (think “really huge gardens with endless weeding beneath the summer sun in polyester jumpsuits”).  I’d secure the borders (ask the bullies who mess with the cubs), and I’d balance the budget.  The fact that I got seven votes, not counting the two voters in our little district, had nothing to do with my message.  After watching the current crop of candidates, I know now what I did wrong – I didn’t write a memoir, and that was my fatal mistake. 

I know why they do it.  It makes perfect sense, actually.  In a memoir, you can tell where you’re from, where you’ve been, how many ladders you’ve climbed, how many glass ceilings you’ve shattered, and how many high-stakes mergers you’ve facilitated.  Wait.  No.  Wrong plot line. Anyway, writing your memoir, if you’re a politician, is like publishing your resume, extended edition, with pictures.  Throw in a few photos of you rolling around on the lawn with Rover, grass in your hair, and you and the kids in their jammies on Christmas morning, and it humanizes you to a skeptical populace.  Not only that, but it gets you a book tour to the biggest U. S. cities where folks line up in droves to shake your hand.  It also nets you some great interviews with the best in the business.  All of that is almost enough to make me write my own memoir.  Almost.  It’s not that I wouldn’t love the tour.  I would.  It’s not that I’d shy away from interviews with the best, the brightest, and the blondest.  I wouldn’t.  What holds me back is the fact that mine’s far too boring to make it into print.  Unlike many of the pols, I’ve never been a CEO.  I had no lemonade stand at the age of six that went public by my seventh birthday.  Nor did I mow lawns or deliver newspapers, building an empire with ever-expanding fleets of Simplicity mowers and/or Huffy bikes.  There was business, alright, but our parents called it monkey business and  shut it down.  There were no fancy vacations on Martha’s Vineyard where the little Yoders mingled with the young Kennedys.  Instead, we had summer nights on Grandpa’s farm with the cousins, playing Kick the Can.  Inevitably, a game would spring up with eager participants scattering everywhere through lanes and outbuildings.  That’s what we were doing while the Kennedy kids were out sailing.  According to family lore, there is one small incident that allegedly occurred on the farm when I was a toddler.  I say “alledgedly” because I have absolutely no recollection of it and cannot testify as to the veracity of the claims.  The story goes that one day after Grandma had gotten a new batch of baby chicks, a tiny cousin and I wandered into the building where they were kept.  Toddling through a sea of fluffy, yellow balls, we discovered that the whole crowd would move and shift at our approach.  Squealing in delight at this discovery, we moved the crowd, alright, scaring them straight into a corner where they piled themselves into a heap and suffocated.  Allegedly, of course.  This is the story that’s been fed to us for years by The Establishment (i.e., our parents).  For all we know, it’s nothing more than urban legend, which is why I’m admitting nothing and pleading the fifth.  If that’s as scandalous as it gets, it won’t make for a riveting read.  Neither will stories of a voracious reader who shocked herself and everyone else by winning a county spelling bee and going to the statehouse.  Who fell in love, got married, and had baby boys.  Lots of them.  And then after all of that, became a writer and a storyteller.  And that’s why (I know it now) my presidential bid flopped.  Well, that, and the fact that the voters were nervous about the jelly.  As Mr. Schrock said drily when he heard of my bid, “Well, the White House was white when we got there…”  Yes, there’s that.  

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