The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Berkshire Hampshire Franklin/Pittsfield Williamstown Stockbridge

Four weeks as a candidate and I'm still standing... Peter Larkin is out. We won't go into that because it would take an entire blog entry and in reality that will be part of the memoirs no matter how the election goes. And have I learned a lot. I've had lots of lunches and breakfasts with lots of people. Some are straightforward with me (much appreciated....) Some are more indirect verging on obtuse. That's harder for me because I'm a "what you see is what you get" kind of person. Some people are obviously speaking in code and I'm supposed to discern the truth. Very complex and often below the radar but I guess it's a case of "cultural competency" -- I have to learn to live in their territory/world rather than introducing them to mine. The most fun things are the unexpected, serendipitous happenings that may end up shaping my world profoundly. A chance encounter with someone who's impressed by something I say. Being introduced to a dynamic couple in Franklin County who have "been there, done that" and have lots of wisdom. Finding friends who know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody....Getting a call from a virtual stranger who gives me one of the best ideas of the campaign, gratis. I guess it's no surprise that the biggest obstacle I have to overcome is geography. I do not live in Pittsfield. I work in Pittsfield, but unfortunately, the management won't let me spend the night at the office. It makes me ponder the nature of "belonging" and "community." Are we Western MA or Berkshire County, or North/Central/South County or individual towns/cities? And what does each construct say about our ability to solve problems and work on common solutions? I did get to float my idea about a sci/tech magnet high school in Pittsfield for a group this a.m. and got a few encouraging nods, so that was a plus. The hardest thing is that we are a small community of 160,000 souls. Everyone knows everyone and no one wants to "take sides" or "commit" because they know everyone/owe everyone/love everyone. And some people might pay a price for making a commitment, and who among us is willing to do that over a political race? All I can control is how hard I work, how many people I meet and what ideas I promote. The rest is up to the voters.

2 comments:

Timothy Kushi said...

Marge wrote:

"Some are more indirect verging on obtuse. That's harder for me because I'm a "what you see is what you get" kind of person. Some people are obviously speaking in code and I'm supposed to discern the truth. Very complex and often below the radar but I guess it's a case of "cultural competency" -- I have to learn to live in their territory/world rather than introducing them to mine."

----

For many reasons, its best to avoid a commitment of considerable time or interest in people behaving that way. One reason is that in a race like this that will require serious focus and consistently strong determination on the part of the candidate, wasting intellectual energies trying to decipher political heiroglyphics with only lead to distraction and possibly anxiety at a time you must be intent upon and confident in communicating your message and winning votes!

Another reason is speculative on my part: there are only two things I can see that would cause a person to speak in ambiguous, unclear language when speaking to a candidate. 1 - For whatever reason at all, including lack of spine, they're squemishly trying to say they don't support you, or 2 - they haven't committed to anyone yet and are the type of person to make a guilt gesture (stumbling speech) over the fact that they like to make up their minds on their own and little you can say can persuade them (and this presents another problem on its own, of course).

Anyway, I think you're doing exactly what you should be doing--using all available time to meet with the maximum number of district residents and deliver your message.

Keep well!

-Tim Kushi

Margeware said...

Thanks Tim! I think you're absolutely right. And there is a third take on this. Since people want to be with a "winner" there will be some people who in their hearts support Candidate A, but four weeks before the election may tell candidate B they've been with him/her all the time.

One of the most interesting things I've heard is "what if people in Pittsfield don't support the eventual winner? Will that person "dis" Pittsfield?" HELLO? Dis the largest city in the district, the economic heart of the economy of this part of W MA? No way! Obviously the goal is to have good relationships with all the candidates and keep an open dialogue, so that no matter who wins, your community can say "We gave this person a fair hearing. We've been building bridges. Now let's work together for the benefit of the entire district, which, by the way, includes my community (fill in the blank...)

Yes, at the end of the day you waste energy and focus trying to read tea leaves. As one of my friends keeps saying to me "Soldier on! Shoulder to the wheel! Nose to the grindstone!"