Year 2011 About Our Family
"Just a dream and an old motorhome."
"The campaigner is currently on a 'Back Road to the White House Tour' with his wife, three kids and a host of novel ideas in tow." --Rome (GA) News
Defying all odds, and then some
Our's is a story of an average Midwestern family that is defying all odds, and then some. We have undertaken a quest for the presidency. No big money. No special interest support. Just a dream and an old motor home.
And in that motor home, we have traveled more than 100,000 miles campaigning down the back roads of America, to date. We have campaigned in towns all across the country the past four election cycles. We have stumped on street corners of hundreds of towns, including Teutopolis, Illinois, Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Rome, Oregon (pop. 5) (If we don't carry Rome this election, I'll be surprised.)
Our story has appeared in thousands of newspapers, including the Rising Sun (MD) Herald (circulation 2,000 on a good week), the Havre (MT) Daily News, the Keene (NH) Sentinel, the Jackson Hole (WY) News. In fact, we've spent more time on America's back roads than perhaps any presidential candidate's family, ever. The Harrison (OH) News Herald noted that I was the first presidential candidate to stop in their county since, well, 1950.
And it's the 1950's that we'd like to see the country go back to, in spirit, I recently told the Chillicothe (OH) Gazette. That is, we'd like to see the country go back to a time when the pace of life was slower, neighbors were closer, there was less pollution, it was safe for kids to walk the streets, and Norman Rockwell paintings were big.
As a family, we finished a 1,000 piece Norman Rockwell puzzle (minus two pieces our Jonathan probably ate). And when were not doing puzzles, our family is volunteering at a drop-in center for the homeless, or working at a community garden, or trading baseball cards, or doing other family stuff.
When a reporter from The Post-Journal in Jamestown, New York, asked what made me average, I replied: "I cut my own grass (with an old wooden push mower -- to reverse global warming). And while I'm cutting the grass, my wife Liz is usually gardening."
I've been married to Liz the past 17 years. She is from New Zealand and has an accent that won't quit. When a TV talk show host in South Carolina said that we seemed like the kind of couple that was very happily married, I replied: "We have our days."
What average Midwestern couple doesn't, huh?
Besides gardening, Liz's other hobbies are running, photography and beating me at Scrabble. Besides being a wife to me and a motor-home-schooling mother to our children, Liz is the campaign manager and campaign treasurer. She is also in charge of ballot access. And she is the person most likely to say to me: "You're not actually going to wear that shirt to the talk, are you?"
Liz also gives any number of talks herself and is continually helping with position paper research. (This is research that has spanned almost 20 years of traveling. And it is research based on interviews with experts, and regular citizens, all over this land.)
Liz recently told the Mississippi Press that "...while it's easier to lament about the state of society, its better to do something."
We have six children.
Two of them, Peter and Mary Rose, died of complications in the womb. (We hold to a Consistent Life Ethic, I told the Cortez (CO) News. And Liz and I believe, strongly, that Peter and Mary Rose are both human beings with immortal souls.)
For the past five years, we have also financially adopted a youth in India through the Christian Foundation for Youth and Aging. And it has been more than a financial adoption. We regularly exchange letters and our children refer to Gopinath as their older brother. (See Gopinath's page.)
Our money helps with food, schooling and other basic needs. And in the past five years (based on the progression of pictures we've been sent), Gopinath has gone from a stick thin lad to a strapping young man who is just finishing high school and is considering going to medical school. (During a campaign talk to a youth group in Valdosta, Georgia, I said part of our platform involves asking many Americans to cut back on their lifestyles so youth in the Third World can have a better shot at life.)
Our children, Sarah, 15, Joseph, 13, and Jonathan, 8, are getting a pretty good shot at life, as things go. They, for one, are probably some of the most well traveled kids in the country. American history comes alive for them as they travel and they have seen some pretty spectacular things (Mount Rushmore, the Pacific Coastline, the Rocky Mountains...). But more spectacular than a lot of this picturesque geography, have been the people they've met along the way who are trying to make a difference.
They've been regularly exposed to: inner city workers in Cleveland and Atlanta trying to help the homeless; environmentalists in Nebraska, Wyoming, Ohio... trying to help nature; pro-life people in California, North Dakota, Colorado, Florida... trying to save babies; peace activists in Vermont, Maryland, Illinois trying to stop war, and so on.
This has all made a tremendous impression on them, as has seeing the needs of: a homeless vet sleeping in a box under an expansion bridge in Cleveland, in winter; a scared, young single Hispanic mother who has just crossed the border into Texas illegally with her two-year-old daughter; immigrant children from Myanmar who have escaped poverty and oppression and are now at a transition spot in Georgia.
All this has helped form our kids in a way, well, that we think they should be formed -- to motivate them to make their own difference in the world.
Our Sarah also likes to write, like her Dad (I'm a former small town journalist). One of her essays on an urban farm in Cleveland, won an Earth Day Award in a writing contest for all of northern Ohio. Her most recent book is called "Road Buddies USA" and is a series of postcard poems from places we've visited, like: a Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska, a phenomenal city park at Houghton in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the ocean at Pacific Grove, California.
Joseph likes to travel too. And one of his favorite places has been the "Field of Dreams" in Epworth, Iowa. He also likes to toss the baseball around with his Dad. And, with his Mom's help, Joseph has started an "Animal Facts Club" with a group of pen friends. Joseph is also quite an artist.
Joseph and Sarah also love to play basketball, soccer and (while not an official sport) engage in sibling rivalry. I told the Fairibult (MN) News that if I can handle conflicts between Sarah and Joseph -- Russia and China will be nothing.
Then there's Jonathan, 8. He's my driving buddy.
Jonathan also likes playing basketball, baseball and football. He's got a great arm and a tremendously fun loving personality. Jonathan also helps Dad pass out campaign flyers on the street corners and when we're back in Cleveland, he and I like going to the Old Fashion Hot Dogs place around the corner.
I told the Owantonna (MN) People's Press that we travel together because we see family solidity as extremely important. People are so busy these days and they don't get to be with their families, Liz said to the reporter. There's such a reward in that.
*For more on the kids, see their respective web pages on this site.
The innocence of these young children...
In an interview for the Politics One blog, I said that it is the innocence of these young children that haunts Liz and I. That is, these little ones are walking into a world of war, babies being killed in the womb, climate change that is on a path to soon decimate the world, scores of starving children in the Third World, while inner city youth in this country try to dodge hunger, needles and bullets growing up.
I told the Selma (AL) News that in the face of all this, Liz and I gave up our regular professions and we are running for president as concerned parents. And were not just concerned for our kids, were concerned for everybody's kids.
And I told the Range News in Wilcox, Arizona, "This nation needs to be a lot more healthy for them (the children) spiritually, emotionally and environmentally."
During a talk at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, I said that "...now is not the time to be partisan anymore. Now is the time to be right."
So we press on as a family, one town at a time. Our family is a modern version of Johnny Appleseed. That is, in each of these towns we plant seeds about all these wonderfully creative, common sense things we've researched.
Things like: how models in Nebraska City, Nebraska and High Springs, Florida hold the keys to reversing global warming; how a church in Staunton, Virginia, and a woman in Cortez, Colorado, know, unequivocally, how to end world hunger; how a police officer in Newport, Rhode Island has the answer for making the streets safe again for kids And did you know that you don't have to go any further than Bluffton, Ohio, to learn how to end war, for good?
Hopefully, some of the information weve spread has taken root and is rippling out to other towns.
And just as hopefully, some day, the most unlikely of families, from a hardscrabble neighborhood in Cleveland, will end up in D.C. So their message can get out farther, and faster before its too late.