Favorite

Where's the human touch? 

Bruised and battered by his first political race, a congressional candidate laments the loss of personal connection.

Page 2 of 6

On the car rides to events, my staff would have contests for who could deliver Robbie's speech the best. Up on stage during the last debate at Sticky Fingerz, I noticed people chuckling as one of my staffers sat mimicking him word-for-word, pose-for-pose, pause-for-pause. As I gestured him to shut up, I couldn't help but smile myself.

I grew to really like Robbie as a person, but to survive the monotony of a campaign, a sense of humor is a must. And he provided plenty of ammunition, as I'm sure I did for others.

Everything on the trail seems like the replica of a replica of a replica. The images, the words, the delivery, too often seem familiar. It's as though a successful politician is first and foremost "replicable."

When exploring whether to officially run, I took the advice of some friends and called some highly touted campaign "consultants" from Washington to provide their assessment of me as a candidate. At one awkward exchange, a young man just out of college was concerned that my being single was a liability.

"Well, I'm not in love," I replied.

"But people want to see that you have similar values."

Another strategist chimed in that I should "find a girlfriend in a wheelchair."

It seems unbelievable ... I know. But this industry standard of the "perfect" candidate, pieced together over time from polling and punditry, has obsessively warped the mindset of many of those in the business of politics.

But I've always believed that the undercurrent of politics today is our search for authenticity. And for many in Arkansas's Second District, that will be Rep. Vic Snyder's most lasting legacy after he retires this year. Everywhere I turned I heard something similar, "I might not have agreed with Vic, but I respected him."

Perhaps he was one of our last authentic leaders in Congress. But let's hope not.

The most difficult dance in today's political arts is the courting of a stranger to ask for their vote. It's intimidating knocking on doors or approaching someone without knowing their views, moods, or life history. And, frankly, with only three months to campaign, it was an inefficient means to reach voters.

Beyond the small numbers you touch, a candidate also has to break through several emotional barriers to even have the opportunity to ask for their vote. And let me tell you, voter anger, mistrust, and disgust aren't just media buzz words — they're very real and very potent in today's electoral climate.

My first time shaking hands was in downtown Little Rock at the River Market. And it was pretty much like speed-dating from hell.

"Hi ma'am'," I'd say with my hand extended.

"You're not a politician? ... Are you?" a brightly clad woman snipped.

"Well, no ma'am. But I'm trying to become one."

"You come one step closer, I'll scream!"

Lesson one became: DENY! DENY! DENY! ... that you're a politician. And so I tried a different strategy.

"Sir, my name is Patrick Kennedy, and I'm NOT a politician."

Without hesitation, a grandfatherly-like gentleman said, "Son, with a name like Patrick Kennedy, you sure as hell better be."

He's got a point, I thought to myself.

Despite its slow and unpredictable nature, I loved this type of campaigning. With every vote hard-earned, you realize that the most explosive change was catalyzed one conversation at a time.

Favorite

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • A child left unprotected

    State Rep. Justin Harris and his wife adopted a young girl through the state Department of Human Services. How did she, six months later, end up in the care of a man who sexually abused her?
    • Mar 5, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • The two faces of Mike Huckabee

    Medicaid expander, Obamacare opponent. Man from Hope, mansion in Florida. Child health proponent, Duggar apologist.
    • Jun 4, 2015

Most Shared

  • George H.W. Bush will vote for Hillary. Or will he?

    Politico reports that Kathleen Harrington Kennedy Townsend says former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton for president. The article quotes a Bush spokesman as declining to confirm or deny.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Additional rape charges filed against Conway doctor

    Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett has added 11 more victims to two others alleging rape by Dr. Robert Rook of Conway.
  • Big Dam Bridge 100 brings big damn complaint about celebrity rider Hincapie

    The Big Dam Bridge 100 is this weekend and one dedicated biker isn't happy about a celebrity rider, admitted doper George Hincapie.

Latest in Cover Stories

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation