Saturday, October 20, 2012

“Letters from the Campaign Trail, Revisited”

c. 2012 Rod Ice

All rights reserved


For a professional writer, the subject of politics offers an unending supply of inspiration. There is rarely a time where elected officials are quiet, or boring. By their very nature, they create headlines.

In the media, political battles resonate like sporting events. They involve conditioning, coaching, and strategic thinking. Victory is sweet, but short-lived. There is always another contest on the schedule.

Presidential elections offer the kind of drama one would associate with an NFL Superbowl or league championship. They elevate our political discourse to the extreme. Tapping into that energy can be useful, to inspire creative projects.

Four years ago, with no incumbents being involved, I decided to share my work with all the contestants for our nation’s highest offices. I sent a book to each candidate who was on the ballot.

It seemed like a reasonable gesture. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if my small contributions would be lost amid the swirl of important issues that gripped the country at that dramatic moment in time.

Ohio, of course, was ‘ground zero’ in this political contest. So I need not have worried.

When they came, the responses I received were intriguing:

Barack Obama (2008)

“Dear Rod, Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Your interest in my candidacy and participation in the electoral process is important to me and will help shape the future of the country. Since voting began earlier this year, the volume of mail we are receiving has exceeded all expectations. I have been impressed with the diversity and depth of the comments and questions I receive, most of which underscore the significant challenges the next president will face. And I have appreciated the candid observations about my campaign and policy positions… Some pundits, and my opponents, like to suggest that my two and a half years in the United States Senate are a liability for my campaign. Two and a half years may not be a long time, but I can assure you it is long enough to know that things in Washington must change. That is why I am running my campaign out of Chicago, not Washington, D.C., and concentrating on meeting with and listening to people who live outside of our nation’s capital. And that is why I believe… I will be best able to break the longstanding grip that vested interests and their lobbyists have had on the policy making process in Washington. I have been gratified by the amount of grassroots interest my campaign has generated. As I travel the country, my campaign headquarters is receiving thousands of personal messages a week from people like you. This volume of mail reflects the importance individual citizens place on this election… Again, thank you for writing, and for voting.”

Joe Biden (2008)

“Dear Mr. Ice, I want to thank you personally for sending me a copy of Popcorn Season. Your book is a welcome addition to my library, and it is with eagerness and anticipation that I look forward to reading it. Thank you again for the kind thoughts, and best wishes.”

John McCain (2008)

“Dear Mr. Ice, Thank you for your kind note and sending me your book ‘Thoughts At Large.’ Your support and encouragement keep me motivated every day on the trail. I appreciated hearing from you and wish you the best.”

Sarah Palin (2008)

“Dear Friend, A heartfelt ‘thank you’ for taking the time to send our family a note of support. Your encouragement motivates me and keeps me going as I work hard on the campaign trail… it was good to hear from you and we wish you the very best.”

In the time between elections, I sent a book to Governor John Kasich as a goodwill gesture. Later, I planned to send another to perennial conservative icon Ron Paul. But somehow, this plan never materialized.

Yet with the season once again in full swing, I began to ponder the continued ‘battleground’ status of our state. As it was during the last contest for the White House, Ohio remained undeniably important.

Those on the Democrat ticket had already received volumes of my work. So I chose to send copies of the ‘Thoughts At Large’ collection to their respectful opponents.

Once again, I received a gracious response:

Mitt Romney

“Dear Rod, Thank you so much for your kind gift. Ann and I truly appreciate your generosity. Your support is extremely encouraging, and while I maintain this busy travel schedule, it is nice to reflect upon the generosity and thoughtfulness of individuals like yourself. Thank you again and best wishes for the future.”

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