Ready to laugh at myself

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• by Rachel Dykoski, 5/1/08 • Who isn’t excited about this year’s election cycle? Truly? We – at the house formerly called Pandemonium – are very jazzed.

Since Air America came on the scene—restoring my sanity and belief in journalistic truthfulness—I’ve been spouting the idea of having a dream ticket: Clinton/Obama ’08. Not many takers in my house. Grumblings about he’s too young, he’s black, he’s too smart … we’re not ready for 3 in 1. Friends were appalled to learn that I thought Hillary should lead the ticket based solely on name recognition. Didn’t I know that I was from Illinois? Didn’t I know that I’m African American? Where’s my friend who was a Jackson delegate in ’88?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I get it wrong sometimes. (shh, don’t tell my husband I said this, m’kay? As far as he’s concerned, I’m ALWAYS right.) It’s based on fear, caution, hedging of bets. I didn’t think Keith Ellison had a chance. I truly didn’t. But my husband did and he supported him. And shut my mouth, Ellison is perhaps the most prolific, progressive congressman I’ve ever known.

So keeping my milk-toastiness at bay, I started paying attention far earlier than my political biological clock said I should, and began handicapping the candidates. And found that I liked most of them. Edwards, Kucinich, Richardson and Obama, in that order, were the candidates who addressed my highest ideals for a mo’ betta’ republic. With Senator Obama’s victory in Iowa, my weak-kneed support found solidity, and I committed to his candidacy 100%. I made phone calls, worked events and canvassed my community.

I became an Obama delegate to the Senate District convention on February 5th. Then I applied and interviewed to become a member of the DFL’s senate district executive committee. “I am the future that I’ve been waiting for” was my new mantra.

Not knowing that my interview had been successful and was being offered a position to Congressional District 5 to represent SD61, I chose the hard way, to run from the ‘convention floor’ for an officer position—and won. Delighting in winning, I chose to further my meteoric climb to DFL greatness and ran for state delegate status. And got an alternate spot. Not what I hoped for, but at least I’m invited to attend without voting. It’s like being brought to the cool kids’ party, but asked to remain in the kitchen so the drinks and snacks keep flowing.

Yes I can … a bastardization of my presidential candidate’s motto was the new mantra. He needed people like me in Denver. Winners who cheer loudly. I didn’t need to work at, learn more or campaign for the ‘big show:’ it was destiny because I can. I’m all that and a bag of bull.

People. I couldn’t have been more deluded. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

At the endorsement convention for Keith Ellison, CD-5 had 8 Obama and 2 Clinton delegates to vote on. My last experience with this kind of convention was 20 years ago. Youthful inexperience and undeniable poverty kept me from pursuing the trip to Atlanta then. Not that I didn’t think I could win it, but stalwart, cash-infused ‘middle-aged’ Dems convinced me I couldn’t. This year, I thought: ‘I’m still broke, but I’m mature enough, and dog-gone-it, I’m a winner.’

Some 100 people submitted their interest to represent our congressional district in Denver. 100! And many of those running had GAME. Bottled water with their pictures pasted on ’em. Posters. Buttons. Fortune Cookies. YouTube videos and, to my horror, personalized Obama t-shirts, showing the prospective delegate with the Senator.

Reality showed its ugly head, and I felt the stress of my feckless venture into political gamesmanship, with the realization that the campaigns to which I’d given my support with time and interest had no support for me. (One delegate candidate shared, “Did you know candidate so-and-so called me and offered to make calls to delegates for me?” NO, but how nice—boy, you’re lucky.) The need for me to admit that I had no juice made me into a whining, surly, churlish witch. I had to leave—make it stop. I had to get out of that place. So, at 3:00 p.m., I got up in front of the 100 or so Obama delegates and announced my withdrawal from running for national delegate.

People were nice about it. And if I’d stopped at flashing the hang-ten, devil grin, it would’ve been fine. But I didn’t. Displaying ignorance beyond the pale, I stated my support for another delegate and asked others to consider her as well. The cacophonous echo of boos was deafening. I was ordered to relinquish the mike. Blushing, stammering apologies to the party-faithful-insiders, I stumbled out of the auditorium. It stung to be rebuffed so utterly. Ignoring candidate tables and their volunteers in the long hallway to the door I took a deep breath, and stole SD61’s mylar balloon. I thought I’d earned it.

Fired up, oh-so-ready to go.