Party Time!

by David Trumbull

July 27, 2000

"Political history is being made in Vermont," according to a recent column in Bay Windows. The Boston weekly, targeted to gay and lesbian readers, reports that, for the first time in American history, an openly transgender person is running for the US House of Representatives. Yes, Karen Kerin (née Charles Kerin) hopes to unseat Vermont's sole congressman, Socialist Bernie Sanders.

Ms. Kerin faces a difficult campaign against so entrenched an incumbent. The media, I fear, will be more interested in sex changes than in public policy changes. But Vermonters are a tolerant lot, so perhaps Kerin has a chance. Imagine waking up on Wednesday, November 8, and reading in the newspaper that not only had the Republicans won the White House, but we had picked up a new Republican congressional seat and had made history by electing the first transgender member of the House. Oh, by the way, Ms. Kerin is reported to be a conservative Republican, not a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Conservative Republican transgender candidate. Trust me reader, you're not the only one confused here. But then, party politics can be confusing.

On Saturday, July 29, the Republican National Convention commences. I had planned to be in Philadelphia for the convention. After all, I was elected delegate. Now it is not so clear. The Party rules state that delegates are to be chosen by election at congressional district caucuses. But in Massachusetts, the Republican Party, under the control of Governor Cellucci, rejected 24 of the 60 elected delegates. You see, Cellucci has been very active in the Bush campaign and expects, as reward, a Bush administration job, therefore he abrogated the rules and rejected delegates who, like me, were not strong McCain supporters.

Did that last sentence make no sense to you? Then you read it correctly. Confused? Consider the situation of the Republican candidate for US Senator from Massachusetts.

"Isn't there a Libertarian candidate running?" was Republican Cellucci's response when a reporter asked how he'd be voting in the US Senate election. Republican Party bigwigs recruited Jack E. Robinson to run, only to repudiate him a few days later. Perhaps he feels like the descendants of Sally Hemmings, trying to get Thomas Jefferson's family to acknowledge paternity.

Mr. Robinson is staying in the Republican Party and is taking the contest all the way through November. Bully for him! The rejected convention delegates also would rather fight than switch. We have appealed to the credentials committee of the convention. It took a court order to prise loose the records of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee. The judge agreed with us, and rejected the party's argument in court that, "it's not supposed to be an open and fair process."

We all--Robinson, myself, others--could go elsewhere. I just received in the mail the official ballot to vote for Reform Party nominee for President. It's not a fundraising gimmick that looks like a ballot, it's the real ballot. This is odd, since I have never supported the Reform Party in any way and am an officer in a rival party. Is it possible after all to be more confused than the Republicans? Looking at the Reform ballot I think the answer is yes.

"The Cross of Gold" speech is excellent political oratory and a good summation of late nineteenth century populism. But it is not a good economic model for twenty-first century America. Therefore, I'll not be voting for Pitchfork Pat Buchanan. Buchanan's Reform Party rival is former Natural Law Party presidential nominee John Hagelin. Remember Hagelin? He ran on a platform that all social ills could be cured by teaching transcendental meditation in schools and prisons.

The Republicans are looking better--if only in comparison to the alternatives. Who knows what will happen on the first Tuesday after a Monday in November 2000. Maybe Karen Kerin will make history in the Green Mountain State. It could happen. In 1992, we elected Althea (née Al) Garrison as a Representative in the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth. Yes, the Fifth Suffolk District has the distinction of having had the only transgender representative in state history--a Republican.

[David Trumbull is Chairman of the Cambridge Republican City Committee.]