As one of only six women who are GOP State Chairs, I find myself saying things that are out of the norm from the ChairMEN of the past. For example, “Where can I get my hair done?”, “Hold on while I switch out my heels to my flats” or “Where is a good nail salon?”
Recently I found a rare half an hour to fix my poor neglected nails. My new position has kept me going a good 12 plus hours a day at times. With travel, meetings, planning, mass communications, working with the staff and miscellaneous items, I grabbed that half hour gleefully.
And what happened while I was at the nail salon was very unexpected. I sat next to an African American lady who started talking to me about the music playing on the sound system. With that, we were off to conversing – well, I was mostly listening. I had found a new friend who had a lot to say about everything.
After going through a catalogue of our favorite songs and artists, she eventually said “So, what do you do?” Never knowing someone’s response but always proudly replying, I said “I am the Chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party.” And I waited for her reply…
“WHAT? That’s great! I’m a Republican and so is my husband!” And then she launched into a litany of complaints against Barack Obama. Here are a few of the highlights of my ‘listening tour’:
-We fuss with our family about that man all the time! They think he’s so cool but they can’t name one thing he has done for them. We ask them and they can’t answer us. They drive us crazy!
-My family has pictures of him hanging up on their walls. It’s creepy!
-He seems very uncomfortable talking about terrorists if you ask me.
-I think he’s a socialist! He thinks taking from one group of people and giving to another is an American thing to do, but I know it is not and it’s wrong. But, he got that thinking from his father.
-And how does he look us in the eye and say he went to ‘that man’s church’ (referring to Jeremiah Wright) for 20 years and tell us he didn’t know about him?
-Oh and that ObamaCare…since when is it OK in America for the government to mandate us to fine people if they don’t buy health care insurance? I mean, that’s not American!
-And how in the world did he get elected President? He had only been in the Senate for two years? The media just totally did not do us right by being on his side. We saw it clearly!
Needless to say I didn’t need to say anything with this lady. She barely could take a breath she was so frustrated with President Obama. The fact was I couldn’t have said anything if I had wanted to!
I gave her my card and we parted ways, but she was still mumbling. From my view, she nailed it.
It was a reminder to me that our message of personal choices with less government intervention is strong and the average person understands. They don’t need to be political gurus to connect on these issues. Who knew going to a nail salon would nudge me to remember this and to never assume what another thinks and to always be prepared to open up conversations with those around us. It was a good reminder that we have the message – we just need to be good messengers.
First Class Lady
Speaking of ladies, it was an honor to attend Samford University’s Department of Education’s 100th Year program celebrating the education of Samford teachers. First Lady Laura Bush was the keynote guest speaking to a sold out crowd of 1,800 students, faculty and Laura fans. Along with Jefferson County Republican Executive Chairwoman Sallie Bryant, we enjoyed some great moments listening to Mrs. Bush:
-Mrs. Bush updated us on President George W. Bush’s parents, her children and doted on their first grandchild. She shared that GWB wants his grandfather name to be “Sir”. She also brought a loud laugh from the crowd when she said that nowadays grandparent names sound more like “cat names” than the old Grandma or Grandpa name days.
-She shared moments in the White House: her husband not really comfortable with valets on their first night; having 27 family members sleeping under the same roof the night of the first Inauguration; redecorating the Lincoln bedroom, which was actually President’s Lincoln office where he signed the Emancipation Proclamation; leaving on the last day on Marine One with her in-laws already sitting in the helicopter when they got in it, which reverse repeated itself when GHWB and “Bar” left the White House on Marine One while George and Laura were waiting on them; and the everyday respect and humbleness they shared as they were in their new home for eight years of residency.
-Sitting in Senator Ted Kennedy’s office watching the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001 with Senator Kennedy as he talked to her calmly and tried to distract her from fear as she was thinking about her husband.
-A friend sending her a Laura Bush bobble head doll that was found in Philadelphia on a half price shelf after they had left the White House. Mrs. Bush had the doll and showed it to the audience and said at times she felt like she lived in a “bubble”.
-Headlines from the grocery store tabloids were shared by Mrs. Bush: that she had left her husband while in the White House and her father-in-law was an alien. “Who knew?” she asked.
-She spoke of her love of teaching, and knew she wanted to teach since she was in the second grade when she fell in love with her teacher and “wanted to be just like her”.
Laura Bush is a beautiful example of warm hospitality, a loving heart and a strong family woman who is comfortable in her own shoes. Whether talking about dirty socks that her husband now drops on the floor, thinking they will magically pick themselves up like in the White House, or sharing a moment about running down into the underground White House bunker when a report about a possible plane heading toward them on 9/11, it was refreshing to once again share special moments with the lovely Laura Bush. Her connection to her audience is inviting and strong. Her new book is called Spoken from the Heart, where she shares her stories.
Red Carpet Ready
I’ll be back on the road this week to meet with County GOP Executive Committees, and to attend the AFRW Legislative Days in Montgomery on Wednesday and Thursday. We appreciate our Montgomery legislative leadership rolling out the ‘Red Carpet’ for one of the hardest working women’s team in the nation! A highlight will be a breakfast with First Lady Dianne Bentley, a keynote address by Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, hearing from our elected officials, panel discussions and visiting with our legislative delegations. Congratulations to President Frances Taylor and her team for organizing an important and informative event. We’ll be seeing ‘red’ this week in Montgomery.
We encourage our County GOP Committees to start their conversations about how we will protect our team, as well as how we add to it, in the 2016 general election. Lauderdale and Talladega GOP Executive Committees have kicked off 2015 by working with and welcoming a total of five new Republican office holders. And we’re just warming up!
Soon we will be releasing some exciting opportunities for all Republicans to join in with us. We are thinking big and have no intentions of doing anything less. More to come!
As the world enters this week into the Christian calendar of Easter time, may we strive to exemplify the actions of being humble servant foot washers.
Mrs. Terry Lathan
Chairwoman, Alabama Republican Party