Could I Really Vote For That Asshole

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[This is the last excerpt to be published for this year’s Shadow Primary. It comes from my new book Don’t Think Of A Republican – How I Won A Republican Primary As A Lefty Progressive And You Can Too, which recounts the rhetoric and game plan of satirical candidate H.F. Valentine’s unprecedented 2022 primary run. See the whole book here. Special thanks to ZNet for hosting the series.]

Excerpt from H.F. Valentine’s address at the Starcourt Theater

So it’s getting close, y’all. Voting starts next week, and I know there are a lot of people in my district who have not made up their minds yet. No matter what the polls say right now, I know there are a whole lot of folks who are thinking to themselves, “Could I really vote for that asshole?”

And you know why they’re asking themselves that? Because they want to vote for this asshole.

I was at a truck stop the other day, and I had a trucker come up to me. He told me he was going to vote for me, even though he disagreed with me on almost every issue. And after I said thank you, I asked him why. And he said that he was coming up on sixty, and he’s never in his life had a chance to vote for an honest man.

That made me feel good. Made me feel like I’d made the right decision in running.

Then, not two minutes after he said that, I had another voter come up to me, a woman who worked at the truck stop, who told me she couldn’t vote for me because she disagreed with me on almost every issue.

And that did not make me feel good. Made me question if I’d made the right decision in running. But rather than write her off, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind listing for me the policies on which we didn’t see eye to eye. And as she went down the list, I told her the same thing after each item. That she should vote for me. Over and over she would tell me a policy she disagreed with, and I would tell her that she should vote for me. And by the end, we were both laughing.

She said, “I could go on, but I know what you’re going to say.” And I said, “But do you know why I’m saying it?”

I told her that, if she wouldn’t mind indulging me for just a little more, I’d like her to share with me the issues that were pressing in her life, the things that she really needed fixing in Congress. And after she gave me that list, I asked her if the politicians she was used to voting for over the last 20 years agreed with her on policy. She said yes. Then I asked her if any of those issues had been seriously addressed by the same politicians over the last 20 years. She said no.

I said that’s why you should vote for me. You may not agree with how I think we could get there. But, for the issues you raised, the areas in your life that matter the most, we most definitely agree on where we need to get.

I told her I wasn’t going to change my policy positions. But that I could do something for her that no politician she’d ever voted for had done. I told her that I could represent her, that I could do my best to make her situation better. I told her that the reason why nothing had gotten better for her over the last 20 years is because those politicians hadn’t been representing her; they’d been representing the donors. They weren’t doing their best for her; they were doing their best for the donors. 

I’ve said a thousand times over this campaign, “Let’s get money out of politics and see what happens.” After that, it won’t be about whether I was right or wrong. It will be about you. 

Until we get money out of politics, it ain’t about you. At least not with those other politicians.

Whatever our differences, I’ve never lied to you. I know that I’m asking you to take a chance. Maybe not as big a chance as me running in a Republican primary, but a chance nonetheless.

Take that chance. Let me represent your interests. Let me kick the donors in the balls.

It’s your vote. Not theirs. Do something with it. Send a message to DC that shit is about to change. If I do nothing else in Congress, I will raise the bar on accountability, and I will raise hell doing it.

And if that’s not worth taking a chance on, then I don’t know what is.

H.F.’s Note:

Those last few weeks, it really started to set in. I had been focused so much on Election Day that I hadn’t been thinking as much about the day after.

My original plan, in case I didn’t win, was to present a kind of “shadow term” where I contrasted, on a weekly basis, what I would have done differently from what the winner of my primary actually did. Simultaneously, I would lend my newly acquired celebrity to left organizing and activism throughout the district and the state. The hopes were that I could continue to make folks of all political stripe less suspicious of left-minded entities, and my Shadow Term would keep my profile in the news to a degree that if I decided to run next go round, I’d have an even better chance at winning (especially considering that my opponent wasn’t about to do shit with their term).

What I hadn’t focused on, as much as I really should have, was the most important question of the campaign: What if I win? It’s one thing to make the pros as an amateur. It’s a whole other to play on a team you just spent the entire tryouts badmouthing the team captain.

Lucky for me, I didn’t give a shit what the team owners thought. I was playing for the folks in the stands. And though I’ve certainly had my fair share of fumbles, what I believe I’ve proven, in the short amount of time I’ve served, is that your efficacy depends on your creativity. And that if you can get the people behind you, there’s a path to change. 

I’ve said it many times in these pages, and I’m going to say it again. I need help. I need more fighters in here with me. I did this with authenticity and audaciousness. We add numbers to that, and we’re going to be unstoppable. 

You can do this. We can do this. Let’s show the people what democratic representation really looks like. And let’s show the party bosses the goddamn door. 

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