So, you’re running for office in HTX and you want help picking out a campaign how-to book? First, let us congratulate you on not paying $40,000 to an urban consultant and then calling your PAC something ridiculous like Hometown Huntsville. Way to keep it real, bro.
Now, we do have a couple of approaches that do well in small towns. No, no—not Lee Atwater’s The Asshole’s Campaign Companion or Turd Blossom’s Big Campaign Stinkout. Both of those are a bit big for your britches. Yes, we are loooong on nasty here in HTX, but we also only squeak by on brains. Atwater and Rove may forever serve as the role model for reptilian-brain bad asses but only ’cause they were smart as well as outrageously evil. Not a combination you find here. With an exception or two. But hang on a minute.
You also don’t want The Thinking Man’s Guide to Community Campaigning. We sold that book to Darren Grant two years ago and look where it’s got him. This stands to be his second loss to someone with less intellectual lode. Grant follows the book religiously—meeting voters, putting up signs, providing smart answers to candidate questionnaires, mobilizing supporters to write letters to the editor.
Meanwhile, opponent Justin Brock is using the de rigueur campaign helper in these parts: No Campaign Required If They Already Like You, with helpful chapters such as “Never Debate: Why Expose How Ignorant You Are Now When You Can Show Them After You’re Elected.”
Brock and school board candidate Sam Moak will win with very little need to engage people they don’t know. Because it’s not enough to prove you’re worthy of the community’s trust. In this town—to quote Norman Ward—it’s not what you do but who you know that counts. Just campaign math, Professor Grant.
Are you with me so far? Here’s Bob’s First Rule of Running: Don’t Run If You’re Not Already Popular. If you don’t know if you’re popular, ask yourself these important questions: Are you an egghead? If yes, then no, you are not popular. Not enough registered eggheads here. Are you a black cop? No, not even in Ward 3. Crazy, drunk porn movie producer? No. Already walked off the dais in a huff? No. Friends with the Wagamon Clan? No. An asshole, a dumb ass, a willing tool? Wait a minute—yes! We can work with you!
If you’re not popular, not a smart man (or woman), if you’re fudging on your credentials and don’t originally meet the requirements for running, if you’ve never voted before and your lifestyle leaves a little something to be desired, that is no problem, my friend. You’re also a willing tool with a capital T and that rhymes with fool, right here in River City.
As an added bonus, you tools-n-fools come with fool friends, fool kinfolk, and fool acquaintances, and y’all are totally susceptible to the best, the most effective, the deluxe of campaign programs that we offer: Ever’body Loves a Loser. (It comes with zebra print accessories for your big-haired girlfriend and her little dog or a can of mustache wax and a camo vest for your man.)
The first chapter of Ever’body Loves a Loser is “Hang ‘Em High,” and it’s written for the increasingly improbable chance that you are going to be able to lynch, beat, terrorize or use a crooked district attorney and his Texas Ranger fuck buddy to persecute your opponent into cowering silence.
You might wish you could bully into submission the women, Negros, Meskins, fags, or Democrats who had the poor judgment to run against you. But let’s face it. You’re too stupid to be as good at it as the smart, rich jerks you shill for.
And at some point—like when the local newspaper story about your Texas-brand tyranny goes viral—you’ll see the wisdom of playing the pussy. Because, son, you done been betrayed. That newspaper took advantage of you, and therefore you is a real victim. Outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and shamed by people with obvious ties to the federal government, the United Nations, Osama Bin Laden, and the New York Times. As baby Jesus and many country and western songs tell us, nobody gets loving like a real victim, and you gotta milk that all the way to the winner’s circle.
For a powerful testimonial, please check out Keith Olson’s campaign site on Facebook. I totally underestimated the guy after he rode Hometown Huntsville in for a first election win against notoriously uncivil lawyer Lanny Ray. And then I read Keith’s FB posts and I knew—he’s a customer! He’s bought himself a copy of Ever’body Loves a Loser and that well-thumbed handbook must have a place of honor in the family outhouse. Sooooeee! Pig, pig!
You can tell from Olson’s Facebook page (Re-elect Keith Olson) that he has read past that first chapter. Subsequent chapters include: “Turn Your Shitty Record into Hugs and Votes”; “Negative Facts About You Are Uncivil”; and “Remember to Link Your Opponent to President Negro.”
Keith read even to the last chapter, “Big Words Sound Smart.” This is no doubt why Olson blasts Kendall Scudder’s mailer as trash “that is full of semantics.” Many of Keith’s supporters learned the word “semantics” from this FB post. A “semantics” is a word that lies, depending on who’s reading it. Like “deficit.” That is one of them semantics. And “tax increase.” That is whatcha call a compound semantics.
We can sell Ever’body Loves a Loser at the low-low price we do because we market in volume. But our most expensive campaign manual hardly sells at all, and that’s because the target audience actually wrote it. It comes in a plain wrapper, doesn’t have a title, and there’s no price tag on it because if you have to ask then yadda yadda. This is an all-purpose must-have for the nouveau somebody in town, and the title of every chapter reads like a post-Depression etiquette book: “What to Tell the Naysayers”; “Crime Is Not a Nice Word”; and “We Don’t Get Felony Drunk, We Get Promoted.”
A chapter was hastily added for this last edition: “When You’re Not Among Friends.” And I’m sure Don Johnson’s elitist public attack on the little local farmers’ market last summer was the first thing that got upper echelon scribes scurrying. I mean, did Johnson not remember he was on fucking TV when he dissed as trashy all the tents on the courthouse lawn and the mariachi merriment of an adjacent Cinco de Mayo celebration? Whoops!
Johnson’s campaign mailer shows how well he’s been rehabilitated. It’s the shining example of his special brand of Karl Rove’s favorite strategy, the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and disturbingly discordant with even Johnson’s public performance at city council meetings. The Don’s mailer does a masterful job of presenting himself as the modest, kindly and civic-minded elder to a group he needs on his side—remnants of the Greatest Generation, who hate tax increases just slightly less than they hate pride, envy, anger, greed, laziness, gluttony, and lust.
And for those of you popular, white, affluent folks running for office, remember that all it takes to distance yourself from any of the seven deadlies you might revel in is to keep your transgressions under wraps while pointing the finger at your opponent and his supporters. Tip from the book: Use the mail list from your church or civic group to sound the alarm. That’s a proven way to disguise your side’s outrageous mud slinging.
This brings us to Bob’s Second Rule for Running: If you can’t keep the mask from slipping, you’d better think twice. Because it really sucks when the naysayers win, when they answer your crafty “fuck you” with the winning number of votes. And that’s what happens when enough voters realize who you really are and what you’re really up to. It can be undone the next election cycle, but it might cost you $40K and a long-term association with some shockingly rough and stupid ass clowns.
So that’s all the campaign how-to guides we carry. Yes, we did have An American’s Guide to Clean Campaigning, but we sold our only copy to José “Joe” Rodriquez. If he wins Tuesday, yeah, we’ll think about restocking. But wow. Wouldn’t that be crazy?