Early last week, as our phone rang off the hook with calls from political organizations intent on securing our two votes in yesterday's South Carolina Republican Primary, Charles got the fun idea of answering all calls (instead of letting them go to voicemail, like we typically do).
On Wednesday, I answered the phone while Zoe and Charles were getting ready for bed. The conversation went like this:
Friendly, Masculine Voice: Is this Lee Rhyne?
Me: Yes, this is Leah Rhyne. What can I do for ya?
FMV: Would you like to participate in a political survey?
Me: Would I ever! Bring it on!
FMV: OK, so, are you employed by any political organizations, news organizations, or are you a political blogger?
Me: Well, I have a blog, and every so often I'll talk about politics, but mostly I talk about books and writing and stuff.
FMV: Great! Fantastic. So, are you a registered voter, and if so, for what party?
Me: I am a registered Independent, thank you.
FMV: So what is the likelihood that you'll vote in Saturday's Republican Primary?
Me: Slim to none, I'd say.
FMV, suddenly MUCH less friendly: Oh. OK, well in that case, no further questions.
So basically, since I didn't want to vote in their primary, I couldn't participate further in the survey. Bummer! I had so much more to say!!
The South Carolina Republican Primary did take place yesterday, and I did not participate. But Charles and I watched the returns come in on CNN, and it was no surprise when they announced the winner: Newt Gingrich.
I'm not a Gingrich fan, by any stretch of the imagination, but we did tune in to watch his victory speech that felt, to me, much more like a coronation acceptance. Based on last night, I think he thinks he has this nomination in the bag (which he may, given the recent shift in national polls).
As he stood at the podium last night, his third wife Callista by his side, I was rather disgusted by both of them. I know Newt's marital affairs are old news by now (even his second wife's incendiary interview this week couldn't make it new news again), but I had a good think about it while he blathered on. He's a slimeball, right? Left two wives while they were gravely ill for new women because, well, I guess the grass is always greener, eh?
But you have to consider Callista, too, in this calculation. Do we want as a First Lady a woman who was more than willing to break up a marriage in her own pursuit of love...or was it power, since Newt was already Speaker of the House by then? Doesn't matter, but I don't think she's beyond blame in that situation. And I don't want either of them in the White House, personally. I do understand that you can't help who you fall in love with, or when, but I do believe you can and should control your actions in life, and I find their actions despicable.
But again, old news.
The one thing that stuck with me, that kept me up at 3:30 a.m., was Newt's comment that he represented true American values, and wanted to bring us back to the America we all loved (I'm paraphrasing, I'm sorry...it's still early).
I am an American and a South Carolinian (by way of New Jersey). I believe in America, and I love this country. But what I love about this country is far from the definition Newt presented last night. Here's what I believe.
I believe in the freedom to choose who I want to love, regardless of gender. I believe no one has the right to tell me who I can or cannot marry (and I did choose to marry a man, a wonderful man, but that was my choice).
I believe in a clear separation between church and state, and I believe I have the right to choose what religion I want to practice. Even if that means practicing no religion, or a non-Western religion.
I believe in supporting my fellow citizens, who may not be as lucky in life as I am. I believe in paying a little more in taxes if it helps this country, and my fellow citizens, flourish. I do believe much about our welfare system is broken, but I believe in fixing it, rather than trashing it. We cannot let our poor, our old, our infirm, flounder.
I believe in respecting other countries, even if it means bowing to a Saudi king, because, well, he's a king. Even if I don't believe his policies, I'd bow before a king. It's respectful.
I believe in ending wars that are taxing the hell out of our economy and, more importantly, an entire generation of my peers.
I believe in President Obama and the choices he's made for our country, and the fact that he saved the auto industry and kept us from falling completely into another Great Depression created by the policies of many administrations before his. I believe President Obama is a good man, not deserving of the ugly nastiness provided by last night's speech.
Mr. Speaker. Newt. I am an American and a South Carolinian, and you do NOT, in any way, represent me.