How to Endure Political Attack (against someone you love)

My heart broke last November, (whose didn’t?)

It must have been March when my husband collected enough signatures to run for local office. I was upright by then. I’d survived the inauguration. Accepted the presidential reality. And alongside it, these last months, I’ve watched my husband run for public office. A small step in a small town. He won the Democratic Primary in May.

And if my husband wins tomorrow he’ll be the first black councilman to serve our tiny borough. His strategy was simple. Research the position and the issues. Knock on every door in our ward.  Be himself. The same person he has always been. Isn’t that what politics needed? Smart and progressive people without an agenda doing their civic duty? Getting involved?

It seemed too simple.

I stayed out of it. Don’t ask me about infrastructure or tax this-and-that, I don’t know. I watched him leave the house dozens of times with his slate cards and clipboard. There he went on gorgeous afternoons when I thought there were better things to do. He left in the rain. Or when he was tired and it was wholly inconvenient. But out he went. Out to talk to the voters. The same folks who were our neighbors.

What could go wrong?

You cannot really know what it’s like to endure political attack until you go through it. If you run for office, prepare to bleed. Let me give you the only silver lining in every vicious, twisted lie. (Do not be disappointed.) It’s only this: I got to love more.

It’s a small comfort that, percentage-wise, so few of you will know how it feels to see your greatest darling eviscerated on social media and beyond.

Those who do know, you must also know that terrible and painful truth about it. As the anguish expands so does your heart. You should see it grow. That expanse. Sure, I knew that I would die for this man. That was a basic given.

Then every time they came for him. In their small, wicked ways, that familiar love of mine, it had been comfort and blankets, suddenly became as fierce and holy and sharp as any real god would ever allow.

This kind of love doesn’t fuel retaliation. It only turns to its subject. In this case, Candidate Val Pennington and


Because I know. I know the truth

I know his goodness. And I can wrap him in it with a look.

I’ve known him for a decade and a year. Time that blew by like a swift summer storm.

I love most, his goodness. I have relied upon this essence: my surety that he will always do what’s right and good.

He has done two more important things–in addition to all those conversations on porches and reading through years of old council minutes.

He never responded to any attack.

And he never attacked back.

Goodness is simple. Call it character. Ethics. Moral fiber. If you encounter the real thing of it, prepare yourself for the light in that kind of strength. The brutal world shrinks before that kind of love.






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