Here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I’m blessed with the opportunity to meet many presidential candidates vying for support ahead of the primaries. I consider myself undecided, listening to their diverse platforms and policy ideas with an open mind. Yet I can’t help but be frustrated that, apparently, none of them think my life story is worthy of being woven into any of their stump speeches.
While my story could be sexier, it’s not for a lack of trying. I always tug at their heartstrings by telling them I’m a single dad trying to make ends meet for my two daughters, and I even trail off with “My wife isn’t around anymore…” so they think she passed away instead of just moving out after I slept with one of my co-workers. I’m not a veteran, although I briefly considered signing up for the Marines after September 11th. And I suppose I’m lucky that my family is perfectly healthy, but crushing medical debt would help a lot. I pray something goes horribly wrong in my life soon that can finally push me over the top and earn a shout-out.
I spoke with Joe Biden a couple weeks ago and tried to endear myself to him by recalling when we previously met during his 1988 presidential run, his 2008 presidential run, and both his 2008 and 2012 vice presidential runs, but I think that just reminded him that he’s never been president. He claimed he remembered me, though it was pretty obvious he was trying to avoid saying my name; he called me “buddy” four times. I thought the sheer guilt of our awkward interaction would compel him to incorporate an anecdote about me into his next public appearance. Instead, he kept bringing up how he was there when President Obama led us out of the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Boring.
I also had the chance to talk to Elizabeth Warren during a meet-and-greet last month, and I enthusiastically attended her rally that evening in the hopes that I made an impression on her. But I seethed with anger when she brought up the story of someone else she met at the same event: a young African-American woman who still has faith in the American Experiment despite dealing with horrific bigotry every day and crippling student loans. How Warren decided that woman tied into her campaign’s message against inequality better than my story about how hard it is to date when you have kids is beyond me.
At first, I dreamt of endearing myself to a serious contender like a Bernie or a Harris. Now, I honestly think I would settle for a Williamson or a Yang. I’ll take a mention in a speech or debate from just about any candidate at this point. I don’t even care if my story gets combined with others into some sort of a composite everyman character, as long as I get some sort of identifiable nod. They just need to refer to my advocacy for making bowling an Olympic sport, and I’ll know it’s me. Although, to be fair, I might’ve already made it into one of John Hickenlooper’s speeches but I haven’t been watching.
Maybe I’m overreacting, there’s still plenty of time before the election to get a shout-out. Maybe they’re all saving me for the general election, which might be better in the long run anyway, because my story could become a seminal moment in the final presidential debate and it would give me more time to mock up t-shirt designs and cash in. My only fear is that Cory Booker could be the nominee; I accidentally overshared when I asked him if his healthcare plan would cover hemorrhoids and I’m worried he might bring that up.