38. Spotlight on Crepuscular Meadows: Farrell Hogarth, a most unusual congressional candidate
Well, he wasn't *that* unusual as congressional candidates went. In 1970, there were a lot of congressional candidates who opposed the war in Vietnam. Hogarth fit right in with them.
But the others were not clergymen. To be honest, Hogarth was getting tired of preaching from the pulpit at the Nobility Interdenominational Church. He intended to resign, retire, or (if he was really unlucky) be carried out of the church in a coffin. This last option was a fate he opposed, but arguing with God on such matters was almost always futile.
Anyway, he had preached many a fire-and-brimstone sermon about the country's political situation. Some parishioners misunderstood his political stance. They thought he was soft on Communism (He wasn't. He couldn't stand Communism). A group of parishioners disliked him so much that they even broke away from the Church and started a church of their own, where they could hear a conservative Christian message every Sunday.
Hogarth, never a shrinking violet, called them "defectors," which only stirred up more ill feeling in town. Well, the die was cast in any event.
When a political action group was looking for a candidate to go against Crepuscular Meadows's ancient congressman, Morris Morgan, Hogarth looked like just the candidate they needed.
Hogarth had been a popular preacher at a church in Crepuscular Meadows (they had been sorry to lose him to the church in Nobility), so he had a base in both towns. Moreover, Hogarth was well-known on the lecture circuit for his presentations on the Holy Land. It looked like a slam-dunk. except that when Hogarth won the Democratic primary, an enraged Morgan decided to run in the general election on stickers.
It was a gerrymandered district anyway, with some towns at the Eastern end full of anti-war sentiment. The more conservative Democrats at the western end were known for loyally voting for any Democrat who happened to be on the ballot.
Conservative Catholics had always been fond of Morgan. Hogarth's pull with Catholics wasn't likely to be as strong, but his firm command of Christian ethics was not to be disregarded, nor were his credentials as a Democrat. But winning the nomination was a nail-biter. he narrowly edged out Filger Pilchard and Morris Morgan. And then three more candidates entered the race as Independents. One was, indeed, a Catholic priest with a stronger antiwar message than even Hogarth could muster. And Pilcher himself ran on an independent party platform that sounded more democratic than the actual Democrats.
And the ultimate winner? Filger Pilchard, who won with a mere 37% of the votes cast. he lasted one term in Congress, after which Morgan regained the democratic nomination and then only served half of his term due to his demise.
Hogarth was appointed to fill out the second half of his term. Politics doesn't get much stranger than this, even in Crepuscular Meadows.
Mrs Mumble happened to bring up memories of that long-ago campaign one evening when she was visiting at Clematis Station. No one could remember who even won the contest of 1970. Many residents had been teenagers at the time -- too young to vote, as 21 was the legal voting age. Others had been eligible, but had misapplied their Morgan stickers, so their votes did not count. Mrs. Mumble's conversation lasted a mere five minutes, after which she started complaining about the odd architecture of the new Museum of Modern Art. No one opposed her n this, so she finally fell silent.
The writer voted for Hogarth.
The consensus wisdom about the election had been that Pilchard was the candidate who was the least disliked. He was young, good-looking, energetic about kissing babies. He was that rarity, a conservative Catholic who was also fervently antiwar. He had been mayor of the largest town in the eastern part of the district, but had also grown up in the largest town in the western part. His political base was more evenly spread across the district than that of anyone else.
Plus, an awful lot of Morgan's stickers were misapplied, so they were wasted.
Of course, this gave Hogarth two more years of inveighing against the American political situation. Looking back fifty years, the writer can't help but reflect that Hogarth should have had the seat, as he indeed did later.
But by the time he had the chance to enter Congress, it was 1973, and the war was seriously winding down anyway.
In any event, the strange business of the 1970 election was one reason why the residents at Clematis Station had a firm position on not talking politics. For some, this extended to religion as well. So wacky conspiracy theories, the food, the weather, and celebrities were what people talked about.
Except for Fernald Shanahan, who, on days when he was strong enough to join the others in the dining room, was always ready to talk about the Hurricane of 1938, and the apples he had been picking on that fateful day.