A very few years after settling back into my hometown after my college days I realized the republican "idea" I grew up believing in and, quite frankly, was obsessed with offered a strange dichotomy to the moral code that had matured in me. And still maturing I would add.
Believe it or not politicians, regardless of party, do things for political reasons-either to make themselves look better (it was a bit sickening to listen to the most recent senatorial debate) or to forward an ideology not necessarily based on ethics. Convictions? Maybe, but not in all circumstances ethics. I don't want to come across holy and without fault here; but I will say that I always try to make decisions based on that moral code. And that, my friends, has gotten me into all kinds of trouble in the political realm.
A few times early in my public days I took my own party to task on issues I viewed as ethical. You're not supposed to do this evidently. But based on my understanding from after-the-fact discussions with party leaders, the one thing that truly ingratiated me to our local R's was "the elephant incident". There is this monstrous chicken wire and paper-mached elephant (larger than life) that is wheeled through the local parades here in Republicania County. This last year the elephant even had a rider. Patriotic music, and some religious music, is played while candidates march along side. It is quite a spectacle.
A year after being elected to public office we began a kids' Halloween parade through our downtown. Everything was built around the kids with downtown merchants handing out candy and the highschool band leading the large pack of goblins, witches and spooks down main street. Upon arrival with our own children I noticed (couldn't help but) the giant elephant parked on main street taking up several parking spaces. My heart sank. C'mon guys-this thing is for the kids not a bunch of stinkin' politicians (I didn't care which party)....the last thing that should be hogging up the day is the giant elephant. And then as we took the kids around to the merchants, and later that night, I started to receive all kinds of comments and calls.......mostly from Republicans.......that it was an embarrassment. I agreed. First, the day was organized for the kids, but second-they were in violation of our own ordinances by parking the beast downtown.
So I wrote a letter to the party chair explaining my disappointment and asking that they make an apology and if they felt like they needed to have the elephant then please follow our ordinances the next time. You would have thought I had asked him to convert to Democraticism. "I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE" the response read as he began to point out my failure to attend Republican breakfasts among other things-as if that were the issue at hand. I actually couldn't believe my eyes and thought for a long time that I should have published the letter in the newspaper to let people understand exactly what a Republican can look like when a breach in ethics is pointed out.
Interesting that in all of the decisions and public statements I have made over the years it is the elephant incident that seems to have made me the rebel of the party. Oh, don't get me wrong-there is plenty of other fodder. But a few months ago I was having lunch with a party patron....maybe I should say THE party patron......and he brought it up.
I said "hmmm......how long ago has that been? 6 years?" An elephant never forgets.