John Clark on a big change in my life. In hindsight it probably began the day Donald Trump was elected. To say a chill came over the Clark household would be a huge understatement. It’s hard to say whether despair or horror was the topmost emotion that morning. Fortunately, my sense of humor rose to the occasion and I spent several days talking like-minded friends off the proverbial ledge.
Beth and I got active very quickly. Having a comfort zone seemed like it was quite irrelevant in comparison to what we saw happening across the country. I suspect having lived in the country of the Half-Baked (LePage) for all of his term, was preparation for what we saw happening in Washington, DC. I hadn’t marched in protest since my college days and my righteous indignation muscles were lax and flabby. That changed quickly.
In addition to marching/protesting in Bangor, Augusta and Portland, I became the king of snarky comments on Facebook. Staying silent when others made racist, sexist or homophobic remarks became a luxury I could no longer afford. I unfriended the few really unlikable folks on Facebook. I began realizing that what used to be unthinkable, both in political reality and in my own look on life was changing whether I liked it or not.
Fast forward to 2018. I’ve often remarked that change is more like steering the Exxon Valdez than a smuggler’s cigarette boat. It’s slow and takes way longer than we like or expect. We’re now seeing the reaction to lying, sexist behavior and endless attacks on morality, minorities and the environment. I told a friend yesterday that Paul LePage has become the Duck Dynasty of Maine politics. That show was wildly popular at one time,. Today you can buy a whole season of it for a penny plus $3.99 shipping and all the show related merchandise is in the deep discount bin at big box stores. Ditto, methinks for Paul Lepage, although it would appear the five or so republicans running for his seat in the Blaine House seem bound and determined to ape his thinking and behavior.
I’m doing what was inconceivable even a couple months ago. I’m the democratic candidate for Maine House District 105 which serves Canaan, Hartland, Palmyra and St. Albans. To my knowledge, the district has never elected a democrat. I plan to change that. This all started with a message on our answering machine from the Somerset County party chair. Craig said nobody was willing to run and would I consider it? Admittedly, my first thought was no way in hell! The thought of knocking on endless doors trying to convince people who never voted blue to do so, made me cringe, but the more I ran the possibility through my head, the more comfortable I got with the idea. It helped big time that Beth was okay with my doing so.
Getting from yes to actuality has been quite the adventure. First one must get a requisite number of valid signatures, 25 for a house seat and it’s strongly suggested to get an extra ten or so. I got half that number at the caucus on Sunday, ran all over Hartland, even screeching to a halt in front of the post office to grab Hadley Buker’s autograph. Everyone I asked signed and the encouragement I got when I told people what I was doing, made the process easier. Next I had to get each of the four nomination papers (one for each town) notarized and have all signatures validated by the town clerk in each town. Plenty of driving involved to accomplish that.
Next up is downloading the forms to qualify as a clean election candidate, opening up a new checking account to use for verifiable expenses and delivering all the paperwork to the elections office at the state capitol. I’ve created a bumper sticker, ordered a hundred and have my friend Clif Graves creating a new WordPress site for my campaign stuff. (https://votejohnclark.me/) In the process of setting that up, I’ve written several documents for the site: Who I am, What I believe and how I got there, Professional life and civic accomplishments. The last one was pretty reassuring. I’m already talking to people of both liberal and conservative persuasions and am encouraged. I know there will be days when I’m bummed because of encountering negative people, but I expect I’ll find ways to roll with that. Stay tuned for more adventures from the campaign trail.