It is not very often that someone would pen memoirs of an event in his life where he was unsuccessful in reaching his ultimate goal. However, such is not the case with Prof. Douglas McFarland who in the early 1992 ran for the Republican Party’s nomination as candidate for the US Senate in Minnesota and lost.
Prof. McFarland, who is presently a law professor at the Phoenix School of Law in Phoenix, Arizona, in his recent memoirs, Few Are Chosen-A Campaign Memoir, invites us along on his long gruelling voyage providing us with a blow-by- blow account as to why and how he decided to run for the Senate, the exhausting life on the campaign trail, truths about the American political system, what people don’t know about politicians, the importance of funding, gaining media support, begging for money, the movers and shakers in the party, gaining delegate and activist support, and how honest are politicians.
We also read about hot button issues of the era including the prolife and prochoice question that played a very important role in the USA in the 1990s and is still today high up on candidates’ agendas.
Even before I opened the first page of Few Are Chosen-A Campaign Memoir I asked myself why would a neophyte with little money who had never held public office and didn’t have a clue about campaigning want to enter the Senate race?
Prof. McFarland immediately replies to my query in his opening chapter when he states that one of the principal reasons for entering the race was that even though people might laugh at him or chortle about Don Quixote tilting at windmills, he didn’t care. In his eighties, he would be able to say, he went for his dream.
Another reason was that he wanted to replace the incumbent Senator David Durenberger who had caught himself in an ethics scandal for using government funds to reimburse some of his personal expenses. Prof. McFarland states, “I didn’t want a person with ethical problems representing our party on the ballot.” Ironically, although Prof. McFarland didn’t make it all the way to the party convention, he was instrumental in forcing Durenberger out of the race.
After completing my reading of Few Are Chosen-A Campaign Memoir with its numerous descriptions of the mental, economic and physical pain that Prof. McFarland endured while campaigning, I came to the conclusion that you either have to be a gluten for punishment or someone with a very thick skin to run for political office in the USA.It is just plain torture!
Although the book has some interesting tidbits, it does have a few shortcomings.
It is very tiresome to read pages filled with descriptions of meetings with all kinds of political hacks who are not exactly household names. And unless you are a political junky familiar with Minnesota politics, you probably couldn’t care less what these individuals said or did.
It would have been nice to turn these memoirs on the people and events around them and present them with reflections that bear some special perspective or insight. I would have liked to have read more about Prof. McFarland’s take on these political hacks, how they gained their positions, the power they can exerted, the dynamics of the nominating process, politics by perception, and other insider information.
InFew Are Chosen-A Campaign Memoir there seems to be a tendency to hold back some titillating information that would have been far more fascinating to read than a description of trips to a middle of nowhere Minnesota destination. Moreover, Prof, McFarland’s memoirs read more like a raw diary lacking cohesion and coherence. Perhaps he is too much of a nice guy to reveal some of the more questionable sides of political campaigning.
Another deficiency was the absence of a glossary of terms wherein readers unfamiliar with US politics could turn to in order to explain such references as “caucus state,” “delegates,” “activists,”“entitlement programs,” “lobbyist” and many more.
The above review was contributed by: ThePublisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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