I’m now several years retired. Starting to get bored. Thinking of running for public office. My main concern is the increasingly harsh nature of political campaigns. Candidates dive deep into rivals backgrounds looking for dirt. It is now called operational research.
Pondering this first ever candidacy I try to anticipate skeletons buried in my closet. I may have some issues.
Summer of 1955 the manager of the A&P Supermarket on Newport Avenue spots a nine year old me in my first and only attempt at larceny.
“Young man”, he scolds “I know your parents. If I ever see you doing this again I’ll have to tell them.”
To this day driving by this building, even though it is now Hasbro’s headquarters, brings back a feeling of guilt.
Spring of 1966 our group of young Rhode Island College students celebrate the first apartment one of us rents off campus. I apparently celebrated with one or two more Miller Hi-Lifes than normal. To keep me out of harms way my accommodating pals placed me in an empty bathtub. THERE MAY BE PICTURES!
Winter of 1966 I dodged the draft, sort of. Strange story. I was drafted. I said goodbyes to friends and family. My normally stoic father teared up as he dropped me off at Fields Point where I was to be sworn in and sent to basic training. While waiting to be given our instructions someone in uniform called out, “Raftus, is there a James Raftus here?”.
I was taken into a room and a doctor found a physical issue I knew nothing about and declared me to be 4-F. This was not a day the Army was doing physicals. It was a day to start your Army tour. I did not argue with their decision and returned to civilian life until April of 1968 when the U.S. Army, at this point churning through young men, changed their mind, re-examined me and declared me fit for duty. I enlisted and served until early 1971.
Summer of 1971 was a time to unwind after my Army stint. One evening I was standing on the deck of the former Jamestown Ferry which was docked in Pawtucket having been repurposed as and arts center for the city’s youth. I was offered, and accepted, my one and only hit of pot. The only effect it had on me was a mild headache.
Late Spring of 1998 I somehow forgot to pay my 1st quarter of Cumberland taxes and was two weeks late. This was the only time I ever had to pay a fine for local, state, or federal taxes.
I think that’s the extent of my personal rogues gallery. How embarrassing would this be to my adult children if it was exposed during the campaign? I can see the headlines from Fox News, “Progressive thief, drunk, draft dodger, drug addict and tax cheat runs for office in Rhode Island!”.
But wait, on November 8th of 2016 sixty three million of my fellow citizens voted for a candidate about whom the following was already known:
He had 5 military deferments including, although a self described “great baseball player” at this age, one for questionable bone spurs.
He had suffered multiple failed business ventures ending in bankruptcies.
His real estate organization was sued by the U.S Department of Justice in 1973 for racial discrimination.
He had cheated on all 3 of his wives, once, supposedly, with a porn star shortly after the birth of his son.
He was the first candidate in decades to not release his tax returns.
He bragged about grabbing women by their private parts.
Well, maybe, just maybe voters could forgive my sordid past. Yes, I just may toss my stained hat into the ring. Oppositional research be damned!
What should I shoot for, Town Council, School Board or something more ambitious?
– END –
Jim Raftus lives in Cumberland and is not running for anything.