Politics, Conventions and Next Time

Article excerpt

The first political campaign that I was ever involved with personally was in 1970.

The candidate was the retiring mayor of Beaumont, Texas, and he was running against an entrenched incumbent for a state Senate seat in the Democratic primary. Jim McNicholas was his name. The winner of the primary would win the general election, probably without an opponent.

McNicholas got slaughtered.

I can't remember her name, but I'm certain of the circumstances that lured me to McNicholas' campaign.

As a volunteer, I passed out literature, manned phone banks and got to spend time with the candidate, especially during the last week of the campaign when emotions are high and everyone is nervous.

I was nervous, too. I didn't know why then, and still don't. My job wasn't on the line and there wasn't much a state senator could do to tactfully end the war in Vietnam, yet I couldn't wait for the votes to be tallied to see if our guy would win.

I'm sure I was anticipating some sort of victory party that would include lots of politically savvy, very nice looking young ladies to enjoy the win with. Sadly, I can't even remember if we had a party or not.

The fact is, though, that primary campaign for Jim McNicholas whet my appetite for politics. I still get jazzed up by the political process.

It's now prime time and things should only get better and more frenzied between now and Nov. 7, when we pick the next president.

I am thoroughly enjoying the national political conventions this summer and I hope that the nation is paying attention. One place setting is complete and the other will be in place by Thursday evening.

I've had the good fortune to cover two national conventions, 1984 and 1992, and it's an amazing process to watch and report on as it unfolds.

But, as amazing as they are now, the convention process has lost some magic because there is no mystery at the meeting. Both presidential and vice presidential candidates' positions on the ballot are secure before the opening ceremony.

Of course, it wasn't always that way and it could have been different this year, too -- at both party conventions.

There is one man that could have changed things with a simple nod of his head. There is one man, that if he had chosen to enter the race in January, in either party, could have changed the outcome so significantly that we might have seen a delay in the selection process until the parties convened this summer. …