Monday, April 14, 2008

On Pocatello Politics--Part III

Several years after we got back from Germany, when I was old enough to begin, at least, to understand about the importance of politics, Idaho elected a Republican govenor by the name of Bob Smylie. Dad acted totally surprised at this development. I think that having won the fight over gambling a few years earlier, he more or less expected to win every political contest the rest of his life. At any rate, he was surprised, and even shocked, when Idaho selected a Republican govenor. He would, thereafter, tell everyone who would listen that getting rid of Bob Smylie at the next gubernatorial election had to be everyone in Pocatello's top priority. Why he felt that way, I could never figure out. It seemed unlikely, to me at least, that anyone in Pocatello would vote for Bob Smylie anyway, except, of course, possibly The Republican, Deloy Giles, (this was before I knew about the Kilbournes. I could only suspect that Dad felt that Mr. Smylie had snuck into Pocatello just before the election and done something very underhanded, like passing out cigars. Many people would then smoke a cigar just before the election, think thereby that they were Republicans, because they were, after all, doing the sort of things Republicans do by smoking a cigar, and vote for the only Republican on the ballet. My guess was that the real problem was Boise. Boise had more people than Pocatello, and it was loaded with Republicans from the get-go, so all Mr. Smylie had to do was pass out cigars in Boise, which was his home town anyway, and, wa-la!, he won the election.

Of course, we also had a Republican President at the time, but I think Dad realized that what with all the gangsters, hoodlums, penny-an-hour-payer employers, slave drivers, and champagne drinking stage and movie stars--all of whom were naturally Republicans--in big places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angelos, you could not blame Eisenhower's election to the presidency to Democrats in Pocatello turning turncoat. Not that it wasn't a problem. President Eisenhower usually referred to himself as "Ike", nobody, except possibly Miss Biggert, being able to spell, or even correctly pronounce, "Eisenhower", and many people in town wanted to get "I like Ike" buttons, that being such a catchy phrase and all, and the only way you could get them was to promise to wear them, of course, so you saw many people, even in Pocatello, wearing the buttons, but I'm sure none of those people actually planned to vote for him.

Of course, one of the things you learn rather early in life, is that the course of true love never runs smooth, and we were reminded of that rather unpleasant fact, when my mother came home one day before the election and announced to all of us that she liked Ike. Now my dad was a great Adlai Stevenson fan and told everyone what a wonderful man Mr. Stevenson was, although, I was never quite sure that Dad agreed with him when he said that he found Paul appealling, but Peale appalling, my Dad having several books by Peale, but anyway, he really liked Adlai Stevenson, no matter how appalling he found Peale, and, as I said, told everyone, even my mother how he felt. So it caused a bit of friction when Mom came home and announced that she liked Ike. Now Loni and I could see through that in an instant. Mom was just getting back at Dad for telling her that he wished she would cut back on the amount of money she was spending on the groceries, and she probably didn't like Ike at all. But I'm sure that feeling that Mom liked Ike was a source of great grief for my dad, so I was tempted to tell him about the groceries and not to worry about it, but I decided that it was not a kid's place to try and console his father, so poor Dad had to bear up under it as best he could.

But anyway, he decided to focus on getting rid of Bob Smylie, but as the election approached, there was a real problem, a fly in the ointment, so to speak. The fly was not really a fly, it was one of the Democratic candidates for govenor who favored bringing back gambling to the state of Idaho. Of course, there was also a Democratic candidate who was opposed to that idea, and my dad worked very hard to get him elected, but to no avail. The gambling guy was chosen to be the Democratic candidate. My poor dad! Here he was, telling everyone for four years that the thing he wanted most was to get rid of Bob Smylie and here faced with the fact that he had to now tell everyone that he thought they should vote for Bob Smylie. The reason was, of course, (and you will know this if you have read my previous explanations of politics in Pocatello) that as much as Dad disliked Republicans, and as much as he disliked, maybe even hated, Bob Smylie, he hated gambling a lot more, so he told everyone that he felt he had no choice and he felt that they should feel they had no choice but to vote for Bob Smylie.

Well, of course, I hated (as I explained in any earlier article) gambling too, so I was sure that if I could vote, I would feel, like my dad felt, that I had no choice but to vote for Bob Smylie. I have since learned, since I can now vote, that I find myself voting more often than not for the lesser of two evils, but back in those days that was not Dad's experience. At any rate, I was in for a mighty shock. I went to church the Sunday before the election, and the Bishop, as he always did, the Sunday before the election, at the end of the meeting announced that the election was next Tuesday and would everyone who could, please vote. But he added, "the Stake President has asked me to remind you that the Democratic candidate for governor favors gambling and we are opposed to it." Well, this came as no surprise to me, and I thought it a perfectly appropriate announcement, but after the meeting all double toothpicks broke loose. People were yelling at each other, and many swore that they would never come to church again (admittedly, most of the ones that said that, didn't come much anyway), others said that they were going to complain to the church leaders, others said they were keep going to church but find a different congregation to do it in and so forth. I was floored. All this over a reminder that you shouldn't vote to support gambling? I couldn't believe it. And I told my mother so when I got home.

"The problem was not the announcement," she explained. "The problem was that the Bishop was a bit of coward in the way he made the announcement. He shouldn't have mentioned the Stake President."

What's wrong with that?" I asked. Kay Hart, the stake president, was a good friend of the family and came by often. He was even a member of Mom and Dad's study group.

"Well, it creates a problem, because, you see, Kay Hart is a Republican."

"What!" I cried, with good cause, because, I couldn't believe it. "You're not serious."

"I am. Not only is he a Republican but he is very active in Republican politics."

"But, how could that be?" I asked in utter disbelief. "He comes to our house. We treat him as though he were a family friend. He comes to church and sits on the stand. How could he do that knowing that he is what he is?"

"Don't be silly", Mom remonstrated. "There are many good people who are Republicans. Just because we are Democrats doesn't mean that only Democrats are good people."

Of course, I had heard both Mom and Dad say that, or things similar to that before, but it never dawned on me that they actually believed it. But then the enormity of the situation suddenly struck me.

"He's even eaten our chocolate covered peanuts!" I stalked away hoping to be able to somehow put back together by suddenly shattered world.


Gavin said...

This reminds me of the time you told me that most of the people in our ward were Democrats.

Loni said...

Kaey, I wish you were at my home right now. I'm sitting here at 5:30 a.m. laughing out loud. This is really very, very funny!

I am curious, however, to know how you came to be such a staunch Republican after growing up in a solid Democratic home!