By mid-2015, presidential candidates were starting to jockey for position in the Republican and Democratic Parties. This, too, was the case with Green Party presidential candidates, Libertarian candidates, American Solidarity Party candidates… It was time to take yet another plunge! But this time, there would be a twist to my campaigning. In the other four campaigns, our family had launched out across the country. However now, the kids were in public school in Bluffton, Ohio. Liz had a business going. And I was painting houses to help make ends meet. So after a couple late night brainstorming sessions, we decided on a “Front Porch Campaign.” (Well, it had worked for two other Ohio presidential candidates.) Only my “front porch” was going to be: Ohio. In the evenings, on the weekends, I would head out on “One Tank Trips,” to various parts of the Buckeye state to stump. And we would use Facebook, and our website blog, to report on the travels -- as well as my ongoing take on contemporary affairs. And that’s just what I did. What I was also relying on was: that our supporters were doing similar campaigning things in their own locals.
The following are just a few scenes from the campaigning, etc., in 2015... For a more complete look, go to our blog for 2015, our my Facebook page for 2015 entries...
For Memorial Day I went to the parade at Lafayette, Ohio (pop. 445). This was one of the parade vehicles. A picture is worth a thousand words, huh. We must never forget... Over the years, we've attended, and participated in, a good number of parades in primarily small towns across America.
I spent part of this year sprucing up our 1984 Midas motor home campaign vehicle. Well, it was either a jumbo jet or the old family camper. Call it a hunch...
Over the years, we have had several late model campaign conversion vans, and later campaign fuller size campers (as the family grew). Because of a pretty consistent campaign tight budget, we've applied some signage ourselves, as I've done some light mechanical and handy man work on them. See, Joe the Mechanic.
I wrote a piece for the Bluffton News about this couple, who were in town on a stop with the Great American Bicycle Adventure. They're both in their mid '70s -- and "poster people" for our healthcare prevention plank. As we've traveled, I've used my journalism skills to interview hundreds and hundreds of people living out various parts of what we call for in our platform. See, Joe the Journalist.
My campaigning took me to the "Old US 30 Inn" in Hayesville, Ohio (pop. 448). I stumped with some patrons, put up a campaign card on the restaurant bulletin board and, well, sat on kind of a hard John Deere seat. (When in (rural) Rome...) If I had a dollar for every small town restaurant, diner, etc., that we've stumped in, well, I wouldn't need super PAC money, ever.
Put up some campaign cards in small towns at a number of stops on the way to my son's high school football game in Ft. Jennings, Ohio. I often combine trips -- to save on gas. [Joseph is #3 in the slot position.]
Put up a campaign card at the post office in Osgood, Ohio (pop. 302). Notice the clever attempt at marketing. And, that's right, we continue to do this all without paid political consultants. I've been like 'Johnny Appleseed,' putting up thousands and thousands of these on town bulletin boards (in post offices, grocery stores, laundromats...) in our 100,000 miles of campaigning. Well, it was either million dollar TV ads, or, well, bulletin boards. Call me populist, but...
Did an impromptu, early morning "town hall" style meeting with the Upper Sandusky, Ohio "brain trust" in the McDonald's there. I can't tell you how many of these there's been over the years. They're usually quite animated, unscripted, and more than a few times I've gotten some good ideas for our platform.
On a campaign swing through eastern Ohio, I spent the night at the Traveler's Motel near Lisbon, Ohio. While the other candidates were staying in the Hilton, and such, I was trying to model "fiscal responsibility." (It was 50 bucks a night -- and that included cable!) To save money, besides these low budget motels, we've simply stayed in the motor home on side streets, in small town village parks, and so on.
Often on the road, we meet all sorts of interesting Americans doing all sorts of interesting stuff. This retired man from Michigan had gotten a motor home, revamped the outside, and was on a mission across the country to raise peoples' awareness about options to abortion. We call these people "extra-mile Americans." And this guy's case, he was literally going the 'extra-mile(s).'
Took a night off from campaigning, to volunteer at Rally Point in Lima, Ohio. This is a Youth for Christ outreach program to kids in a hardscrabble area of the city. In our travels, we've often stopped to volunteer, including a five-year-stint with the Catholic Workers in a hardscrabble area of Cleveland. See, Joe the Volunteer.
I stumped at this Taco Bell in Ada, Ohio one evening. Actually got in a pretty lively political discussion with a couple employees there. Being a "low budget campaign," I can't tell you in how many fast food restaurants across the country the past 16 years that we've passed on campaign literature, engaged in political debate with the "morning regulars," and dined on, well, bean burritos, egg McMuffins... not because of a phony populist oriented photo-op, but because it was all we could afford.
Stopped at "Gilbert's (coffee shop) Place" in Bellevue, Ohio, where I passed out campaign cards and admired some Cleveland Browns memorabilia. I bleed orange and brown. What's more, I can't tell you how many times I've told Browns fans over the years that when I get to DC I'm going to paint ["Joe the Painter"] the Capitol Dome orange and brown and put a BIG face mask around it. Liz says I've got to stop doing that. But I can't. It just keeps coming out of my mouth.
One of my stops was at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. The university's motto: "Catholic to the Max!" Got in some great discussions about faith, politics and the public square. [Also squeezed in one of my daughter Sarah's games while I was there.] We have regularly stopped at college campuses across the country to give talks, do research and interact with the students about, say, some of their fresh ideas about things.
Stumped in this gas station/store one evening in Columbus Grove, Ohio. There have been hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds... of similar campaign stops all over the country over the years, where I've talked (and passed on campaign literature) with owners, clerks, customers... about the campaign. I often try and tie these stops in with, well, getting gas. And no, this isn't an 'Alt Right' gas station. It's just "Alt's" Gas Station.
On some of the campaign "One Tank Trips," I would take my old work van complete with a ladder on top, paint brushes inside and a "Vote Joe" bumper sticker. Populist? In spades! Retro? You be the judge. We actually ask America to consider going back to the 1950's in a number of different respects. See, The '50s...
In ad hoc fashion (which would characterize a lot of our campaign), I stumped at this diner on a Saturday evening in Lisbon, Ohio.
During this campaign season, Liz was home a lot and involved with publishing two local magazines. [As coincidence would have it, Jackie Kennedy got into the publishing industry.] Having a background in some photo-journalism, I was often called on to photograph magazine events. This particular assignment was "A Night Out For Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt." During a break in the shooting, I told Liz I was thinking about having the custard place cater the Inauguration, big green frog and all. As you can see on the 'Almost First Lady's' face, she wasn't too keen about bringing the big green frog. Kill joy.
At Christmas time this year, I volunteered for an evening at St. Malachi's Church on W. 25th St. in Cleveland's inner city. We passed out bags of hats, gloves, blankets, toiletries... to people living on the streets down here. As we've traveled over the years, we have regularly pitched in to volunteer at various outreaches around the country. It is part of the heart of our family's faith life, and it is part of the heart of my campaign. [Pictured here is a makeshift medical triage center at St. Malachi's for the homeless.]