“You’ve been there before, right?”
The driver’s question shook the candidate out of his reverie.
The young man didn’t make a habit of using a car service, but with his campaign manager in a meeting, other workers putting up and repositioning signs and his wife needing the family car, a limo was the best way to ensure the candidate arrived at this important meeting on time.
“You’ve been there before, right?”
“Nope… first time!”
“Well, I have,” the driver responded, with an air of professional competence and courtesy. “The way there is imprinted on my memory, given the importance of the man who lives there and the guests I’ve taken there.”
“Yes, sir, it’s quite a place,” the driver said. “When I was a kid, at Christmastime and Easter, cars would be lined up so that families could use the shortwave radio there as part of a special phone link-up to talk to their boys in Vietnam.
“The joke around town was that the landlord there stayed busier on those holidays than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny combined… and that he served a steady diet of ham on both days… as in ‘ham radio’!”
“How about that,” the young passenger responded, adding a polite laugh of his own.
Actually, the candidate’s nerves were a bit jumpy as the car drew closer to its intended destination. Given his propensity for verbosity, he hoped that continuing the conversation would calm him down a bit.
“I wonder what his workshop looks like,” the candidate said.
“Not sure that he even calls it a ‘workshop,’” the driver responded. “I’ve heard that he refers to it as his ‘shack,’ and sometimes just as the ‘garage,’ since he works on his cars as well as his gadgets in there.”
The conversation piqued the driver’s curiosity. “You gonna ask him?”
The candidate genuinely chuckled this time.
“As you might imagine, I have some other questions in mind,” the young man responded.
“I bet you do,” the driver responded, pulling up to the door.
Ushered into the great man’s presence, in the den just off the kitchen, the young man was every bit the energetic candidate.
“You’re very kind to make some time to visit with me, sir.”
“Well, you’re off to a great start,” the great man said.
“Thank you, sir,” the candidate responded. “It was a hard-fought primary, and we were pleased to come out on top.”
“Oh, I’m not talking about the primary,” the great man said. “I’m talking about the first word out of your mouth. ‘Y-O-U!’ That’s good!”
“Every letter that you write or your staff writes should start with that same word. God knows we have enough politicians who always begin with ‘I…’ I’ve done this… or I’m gonna do that… makes me sick! By using ‘you,’ the attention is focused on the voter… and then, when you win… your constituent!”
The great man’s candid and cantankerous nature, as well as his sage advice, made the hourlong meeting seem much shorter.
Toward the end, it was the great man’s turn to ask a question.
“Who are you running against, anyway?”
The candidate bit his tongue and kept a poker face, remembering that an endorsement from the great man put his opponent into office in the new congressional district two years earlier. Calmly, he mentioned the incumbent’s name.
Sen. Barry Goldwater responded with a snort of surprise… or derision… the candidate couldn’t determine which.
“A girl?! Well, I’m not gonna get in your way! Now… where’s my checkbook?”
The candidate wanted to frame the check as a keepsake, but the campaign treasurer explained that federal election finance law mandated its deposit. Besides, every dollar counts in a political campaign.
Thirty years after Barry Goldwater lost his race for the White House, the young candidate won his race for the U.S. House.
Almost another 30 years have passed. Barry Goldwater belongs to the ages, and the young candidate-turned-congressman has now become a columnist.
He wrote this piece, still using the “Goldwater Rule.”
Check the first word.
Written by JD Hayworth for The West Valley View ~ March 20, 2022
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