Making a Difference

Brian Scott Beall

Brian Scott Beall

 

 

[Note: I wrote the following piece this morning for my Facebook page and decided to post it here as well.]

DAY 8: November 8, 2016–Election Day–I’m thankful that it IS Election Day, and I will probably be burning the night oil watching returns. When I woke up this morning, my clock read “4:45”. It was early–so I decided I could sleep a while longer. When I looked again, the clock still read “4:45”. I thought I looked at it wrong, so I rolled over. And, when I looked at it one more time, it still read “4:45”. That’s when I rolled out of bed. The battery expired. And I thought, “I hope that doesn’t mean something today.”

When I got up this morning, I immediately started thinking about Brian and his voting habits over the years. My earliest memory of any election was the Truman-Dewey campaign. I was five years old and in the hospital having my tonsils removed. Bev was in the same room with me; she also had her tonsils removed. Our parents took turns on Election Day going out to vote and as I recall, they voted for Truman. (He’s a distant cousin of mine–more distant than I originally thought, but in 1948–none of us knew about that. I would later discover that Nixon and Ford are also distant cousins—but that would come much later.) Then came the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaign of the 1950s. I thought I got Eisenhower elected because I wrote “I Like Ike” in the dirt all over the playground. My parents were never straight-line any-particular-party people. Mom always said she would “Vote for the man” and “Not for the party.” They both caught a great deal of flack from Dad’s parents (died-in-the-wool Republicans) because my parents both voted for Franklin Roosevelt–another distant cousin discovered much later). Grandpa Inman was a Republican State Senator in Iowa early in the 20th Century, and I understand, his picture still hangs in the State Capitol in Des Moines. Reportedly, he had the largest mustache. My parents voted Republican for a while. But in 1980, my mother voted for John Anderson, an Independent!

Howard’s parents favored the Democrats until the chaos of the 1960s. (They were from the South and his mother was a distant cousin of James K. Polk!). After that, they became Republicans and remained so the rest of their lives. They lived in Arkansas their later years. My mother-in-law was frightened half to death one day when she was driving down the road with an Impeach Clinton bumper sticker on her car. A guy in a pick-up truck was right behind her, bumping her along the way. That sticker came off the car as soon as she arrived home!

And so we turn to Brian. With all the cousin-Presidents in his background, how would he have voted?

Brian always favored the mavericks, and his first maverick was Ross Perrot! When we returned from Pennsylvania that summer, he tried to recruit us for Perrot. And when Perrot dropped out of the campaign, Brian still voted for him. That experience put a damper on his political interests until 2004 when he was working for the railroad in Illinois and was based in a small town in the central part of the state. One day, he heard about a man who was running for the U.S. Senate who was speaking in the town park.

“What’s his name?” Brian asked.

“Barak Obama!”

So Brian and his friends went over to the park to listen to Obama. Afterward, Brian managed to get through the crowd and shook hands with Obama. (I don’t know whether Brian knew that his Grandfather Beall once shook hands with a candidate named John F. Kennedy at the Cedar Rapids Airport. Howard was standing there with him!)

Brian told Obama he liked his message.

“I would appreciate your vote!” Obama told him

“Oh, I would vote for you in a heartbeat!” Brian told him. “But my home is in Colorado. I’m just working here temporarily for the railroad.”

Brian enthusiastically voted for Obama for President several years later. His enthusiasm dwindled by the second term, however, but Brian voted for him again.

Last year we were visiting Brian at his house and the topic soon turned to politics. Brian was busy running through a lengthy list of candidates he didn’t like and wouldn’t vote for under any circumstance. And I asked him, “So, who do you like?”

He looked at me and smiled, “I like Marco Rubio!”

Thinking back on all of this now, I wonder who he would have voted for today had he been able to do so. It didn’t take me long to decide.

I don’t think he would have voted for either major candidate.

Instead, he would have voted for one of the Independents and stayed true to his independent spirit!

You could lead Brian to water, but you couldn’t make him drink!

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