There’s something new and exciting in my yard this week. A garden accessory, if you will. Doesn’t the blue of my first campaign sign go ever-so-nicely with my new Salvia? (Which are lucky to even be standing after that torrential downpour night before last.)
Yep, I am truly a civilian now. One of the last remaining lines between this former journalist and “regular citizen” has been crossed. It feels pretty liberating.
Disclaimer: this is not a post about gardening or plants, though it is about something important in my yard, so that’s close enough for me. And unlike my fickle, flowering friends, I expect this sign to stay fresh and do its job until November!
This little ditty is probably only significant to my former and present journalist friends and colleagues, who understand the meaning of a sign like this. Yeah, I know I’ve been in PR for more than a year now and that’s the biggest no-no of all… but this is a big one too. There’s truly no going back.
For everyone else, it’s like this…see? Ethical journalists can’t have political signs in their yards, promoting candidates or, say, ballot initiatives. They can’t have similarly-intentioned bumper stickers, or publicly advocate in any way for political causes or donate money to candidates, political parties or even charitable organizations they cover. (Hell, they even go to work at major newspapers the day after Obama was elected and keep their outright GLEE to themselves. THAT was tough!) They shouldn’t register to vote as a political party member and some are SO bent on appearing unbiased, they won’t vote at all. I never took it that far. But I was registered to vote as “unenrolled” for my entire adult life, rather than as the far-left Democrat that I really am. (It still feels really weird to say that in “print.”)
A reporter who broke any of these rules at a paper that took itself seriously would lose his or her job. (Of course, ahem, that happened to many of us anyways.) It must be noted here, however, that these rules did NOT apply to publishers and owners, of course. They could do as they pleased. (Little bitter still? Nah!)
So this sign is a symbol of Goodbye to All That, as Joan Didion would say. Of having the freedom to jump into the political fray elbows first and support causes and people I believe in and care about. I’m pretty damn excited about that. (Obama 2012, here I come!)
In that spirit, tonight my husband and I attended our first-ever campaign committee meeting at the home of the above-advertised candidate, Dolores Thibault-Muñoz.
Dolores is an amazing woman running for Fitchburg City Council in our voting neighborhood, known for districting purposes as Ward 4. Dolores used to run a local community center and now heads an organization that helps people create gardens, The Growing Places Garden Project. (Ah well, there is a little green link here after all.) Interestingly enough, she is originally from Chicago, where she was a community organizer, like Obama. I’m getting in on the ground floor, in case she plans to be our first Latina U.S. President. (Dolores, dibs on Director of Communications. Not spokesperson…. behind the scenes, please!)
A mom of two beautiful daughters and a law student, Dolores is married to David Thibault-Muñoz, an equally-amazing individual who grew up in Fitchburg and is now a school committee member and community organizer extraordinaire. They’re quite the power couple and I am excited to help Dolores on her campaign. My fabulous neighbor LaNeia (she of the recent plant porn pic donation) and I are going to help door-knock and probably wave signs and dance around on street corners in Fitchburg, among other interesting tasks. I’m also going to help out with some writing and she’s promised to organize a wingding.
I expect this to be a very different education in grass-roots politics. (Previously, I have only seen this world through my notebook, doing candidate interviews and covering local debates, dirty campaigning and election results. Good stuff, all told.)
To those who have never worked at an old-school newspaper and swallowed their political passions for years on end, this probably seems less than earth-shattering. But I’m really excited to embark on this new chapter in civilian life, one in which I move from “unbiased” chronicler to full participant. One in which I get to be a “real” person.