As 2016 rolled around, things were starting to heat up campaign wise on a national level. I, in turn, stepped up my campaigning on a "local (Ohio) level." Hoping, again, that my supporters would follow suit in their own locals. [Although admittedly, the polls were showing this wasn't happening, oh, as much as I'd like.] Of course, I had to 'step up our campaign' relative to still having to work, attend kids' sporting events, hang out with Liz, shovel the driveway, cut the grass... Nonetheless, I still found time in the evenings, and on weekends, to go out for yet more stumping. The following are a few vignettes from this campaigning. For a more comprehensive look, go to our blog for year 2016, or our Facebook page for that year.
Passed out flyers at a Pilot Truck Stop in Beaverdam, Ohio (pop. 382). Over the years, we've found it strategic to pass out campaign literature at truck stops, highway rest areas, and such, because you get a cross section of people from various states. And if you don't a have a national advertising budget, well... This truck stop also had a Trucker's Chapel where I stopped by to pray. [That's another BIG part of the campaign strategy, prayer.]
In Ottoville, Ohio, cars were parked around the Catholic Church there for 4:30 Mass. We stood on the side walk and passed out some campaign cards to people going in, including an older couple who had pulled up in their "alternative vehicle." They told me they'd been driving it to church (summer, winter...) for years. I, in turn, told them they would, indeed, like our position on transportation. In our travels over the years, we've campaigned, well, wherever groups are gathering: Little League ball fields (in between innings of course); before Fridaynight high school football games; full bus stops; downtown street corners at noon; post office sidewalks, fire stations [see next photo]...
In Middle Point, Ohio (pop. 576), I noticed cars and pick-up trucks parked around the downtown fire station. I walked in. There was a group of volunteer firefighters in the middle of a Saturday morning meeting. When they found out what I was doing, they paused the meeting and a lively 'Fire Hall Meeting' ensued, with the subjects ranging from guns, to taxes, to jobs... [I can't tell you how many of these impromptu, and refreshingly 'unscripted,' meetings have happened all over the country all these years.]
In Arlington, Ohio (pop. 1,455), I passed out campaign literature on the downtown streets. Yet another of thousands of street corner stumping stops on our "Back Road to the White House Tours" over the years.
I stopped to talk to protestors outside Marathon Corporate Headquarters in Findlay, Ohio. I was sympathetic to their cause because I, indeed, believe global warming, for instance, is a real threat. And America, as a whole, needs to become a lot greener -- quick! For more on this, see our Energy Policy. Note: Over the years, we've met with, and sometimes stood in solidarity with, people protesting, say: abortion in Fargo, North Dakota; healthcare policies in Burlington, Vermont; the start of the Iraq War in Bluffton, Ohio; a "Gentleman's Club" in Mount Vernon, Illinois...
Liz (the 'Almost First Lady') and I stumped in downtown Columbus Grove, Ohio (pop. 2,137). Afterward, we decided on a "selfie" in front of part of this hardware store sign. Once again demonstrating "fiscal responsibility," we decided we could save money on a prop. LOL, sort of.
We have, often, stopped in small towns and stumped from store to store on 'Main Street,' pressing the flesh and getting small business owners' takes on politics, the economy, and so forth. In fact, part of our economic platform comes from some of these conversations.
Between campaign trips, I continued to do, well, the "stuff of life." Our son Jonathan plays soccer. And on this Saturday afternoon I was doing my best (which wasn't very) 'Howard in the Goal' imitation.
As an "average Joe" dad, so to speak, I've tried to not let the campaigning trump (no pun intended) my responsibility as a parent. See our position paper on Healing the Family for why this is so important at this stage of our society.
I stumped at the North Baltimore, Ohio (pop. 3,432) Summer Festival. I passed out campaign flyers up and down the midway -- something I've also done many times at festivals all over the country -- and talked with people at various booths. This is Kari Stallcap, who is involved with the Wood County Community on Aging. She said the agency provides "Meals on Wheels"; medical escorts; legal advice... to seniors. [An important part of our Social Security platoform revolves around seniors feeling "secure" on every level in their community.]
Deshler, Ohio's city limits sign proclaims: "Welcome to Corn City!" So, in yet another strategic campaign move, I penned this to the card I put up on the post office bulletin board there. We'll probably carry Deshler (pop. 1,799), one of these campaigns. We've put up thousands and thousands of these on bulletin boards across the country, most with these kind of pithy, and I'd like to think "creative," angles -- depending on the town. At some point we figure we'll reach a "tipping point."
In Hoytville, Ohio (pop. 305), I saw Jerome Miller sitting on his porch. I stopped. After passing on a campaign card, I learned he is a member of the Hoytville Volunteer Firefighters -- complete with a front yard shrine, if you will, to firefighters. He said he volunteers because he believes it's the right thing to do. I can't tell you how many "extra-mile Americans" we've met out here over the years who have the same drive.
When back in Bluffton, I interviewed a high school student who went to Khora, Ethiopia, on a mission trip with a group of people from Ebenezer Mennonite Church here. (I write regular articles for our local newspaper.) This is a picture of a typical one room home -- for a family of four -- in this town. Pictured here are several Ethiopians, and the mission team, all squeezed into the space. Our platform calls for a lot more foreign aid into the Third World. To learn more, see our
Foreign Policy position paper.
In Steubenville, Ohio, I stood in solidarity with a "Life Chain" silent abortion protest. The woman I stood next to is a mother of nine. And she told me she sees each of her children as a "tremendous gift from God." As we have travelled over the years, we have often stood in solidarity with groups protesting abortion on the streets. on the streets of Beaumont, Texas; Bakersfield, California; Fargo, North Dakota; Cleveland, Ohio; Marquette, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; Ocala, Florida... I have also given talks about ending abortion in more than 1,000 churches across the country over the years, as part of a Catholic ministry we have.
As the year went on, I started to ramp up my campaigning – deciding to notonly wear a campaign button on the front of my coat, but the back as well. It's especially effective in restaurant lines. I can't tell you how many campaign buttons we've given out over the years. But it's been a good number. And I keep telling people they'll be a "collector's item" once we get to D.C.
In between campaign trips, I was also continuing to work. During this time, I painted the exterior of a house owned by an economics professor at Bluffton University here. During more than a few coffee breaks, he and I discussed economic policy. I took a lot of notes. To learn more, see Joe the Painter. To learn more about our position on the economy see our Economy position.
Also in between campaign trips, I worked in our garden some evenings -- while listening to Indians games on an old transistor radio. (Remember those?) The Indians were doing well, the pepper plants were coming along nicely... but I wasn't as sure about my polling numbers. By the way, we're not only planning to keep Michelle Obama's garden up -- but we have an entire permaculture planned for the White House lawn. See our page about Permaculture.
I spent some 20 minutes talking to this guy in McDonald's about the Cleveland Indians (my team too), and politics. However when he learned I was an Indian's fan, I believe that's all it took to seal the deal for him. [I signed the campaign card I gave him: "GO TRIBE!"] In fact, a lot of my "average Joe/Jane campaign supporters in northern Ohio may well now be Indians, Browns, Cavaliers... fans. My wife says: "that's shallow." I say: "that's Cleveland."
Since our target was Ohio (over the years we’ve been to all 88 Ohio counties at least three times), I decided on this downtown thrift store shirt. And not just for thematic purposes, but, well, if the GPS ever went on the blink… As we have traveled extensively through Ohio, we have traveled extensively through the country over the years. Some 250,000 miles extensively. In fact, I just might be the most well-traveled presidential candidate (domestic road miles) of any presidential candidate, ever. *Actually, for the first 12 years of campaigning, we were still using a map. Remember those?
While other more high-profile presidential candidates were dining at the Hyatt, and such, you could often find me at small town restaurants, diners, McDonald’s… This night I’d decided on “Granny’s” in Galion, Ohio. The special was: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans -- $6.95.
In my campaign travels around Ohio, I have several times intersected with "Amish country," in Holmes County -- as I've intersected (and done research on) Old Order Amish, Mennonite, Quaker... communities all over the country. Now while many look at these Old Order folks as "refreshingly quaint," and so on, I see many aspects of their culture as tremendously sane. They, for instance, go through prayerful discernment before adopting any new technology. Is this going to adversely affect their relationship with God, their family, their community? If they determine it is, they won't adopt it. Take their stance on transportation, which, in part, I've woven into our campaign platform on transportation.
One of the hats I wear to campaign in Northern Ohio. *See last photo
One of the reasons I believe I wasn't polling better is because the "for president" could have been in a bigger font size. Granted, it's just a theory...
That's right, while the Trump / Clinton jumbo jet crews were regularly keeping the plane engines, et. Al., up to snuff, I was regularly checking the tire pressure, oil, alternator fluid and anti-freeze levels on our campaign vehicles -- as I have been for years. Common sense says if you want to be in touch with 'average Joe middle-America,' wouldn't you regularly EXPERIENCE what that's all about?
We've had a number of different versions of our campaign button over the years. This is one of my favorite, with the paint brush, etc. It's got a populist feel to it, a retro feel... that all embodies our campaign. Besides the campaign cards, I sometimes put them up on town bulletin boards like this one that I put up at a gas station along Rte. 250 in Ohio.
This was like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting at a small used car dealership in Columbus Grove, Ohio. When I saw the guys through the window, I went in to stump. The "brain trust" of the town, these "regulars" meet most mornings here to discuss the Friday night high school football game, local politics, national politics... We talked for a good 20 minutes this morning about a wide range of national issues. I love these sessions (and there have been SO many of them over the years). There's no partisan script, it's all "unplugged" and real -- as grassroots stumping should be, I believe.
These women at a McDonald's in Galion, Ohio, wanted to talk, not so much about politics, as, well, about: "modesty of dress." They said society is getting nuts in the level of immodesty of dress, especially among young girls. One woman said when she was in high school, a cheerleader's skirt had to be below the knee. After passing on some campaign cards to them, I said that when I got to D.C. I couldn't necessarily legislate that type of thing (modesty codes), but I could talk about it and our family could model it in our dress. And I said it is, indeed, indicative of some of the moral breakdown in American society these days. And at the core of this (as we note in a position paper), is a breakdown of the family.
Okay, so they were continuing to get "top billing." But I liked to think I was still "in the game" that Fall. After a talk I gave at Antioch College a number of years ago, a professor said she saw me as: "a cock-eyed optimist." I'd say that was apt.
On a campaign swing through Forest, Ohio, I put up one of our cards on a carry-out bulletin board. Notice the clever twist. If we don't carry Forest, I'll be surprised. And we continue to do this all without paid political campaign consultants. Although my wife, on more than one occasion, has said we should consider having some.
At a small restaurant in Cadiz (hometown of Clark Gable), I talked with this man who said he had formerly been on village council. We talked about the ins and outs of that (as I've talked with many small town politicians over the years). I need my finger on the pulse of that because, well, our platform calls for a shift back to a time when the local politicians had more power than the ones in Washington. Because common sense says that these local politicians understand the issues in their respective towns much more than the ones "on a hill,' so to speak, in D.C. I also put up a campaign card on this restaurant's bulletin board and inscribed: "Frankly, I do give a damn!" (Clark Gable pun.)
For these short one-tank-campaign-trips, I'd often take my work van. Not only was it good on gas (compared to the camper), but it was easier to park. And there was this, oh I don't know, authenticity to it. I mean, it was a REAL work van -- not a photo-op vehicle.
While Hillary and Donald were duking it out on center stage, Mike and I had at it on the
internet. Over the years, I’ve done a number of Third Party Presidential Candidate Debates, including at
the National Press Club in D.C. I won most of them, of course. At least that’s what my wife says. She
also says it might be good for me to occasionally wear a tie.