My fellow Americans. I’ve been accused of many things. Like being a Washington insider, being out of touch with regular citizens like you and even being inexperienced and naive. But my critics just don’t know the real me.
I was born in Faith, a small town not far from Charity and just down the road from Hope. Faith was, and still is, a community of about five thousand souls who are as committed to America as you and me. Their dream is the same as your dream and mine: a five-bedroom, three-bath monster home and a healthy, well-diversified stock portfolio.
My parents were poor, hardworking people who dedicated themselves to providing a better life for me and my two sisters. Dad worked eight hours a day, five days a week as an encyclopedia salesman while my mother taught nuclear physics part-time at the local community college.
Although we grew up poor, I never lacked for the basics. We lived in a modest, three-bedroom bungalow that to this day has no central air and only one-and-a-half baths. But my sisters and I didn’t know that we were poor. All we knew was that we were loved.
Growing up in Faith taught me most of life’s lessons. For example, I learned how other kids can be cruel and taunt you because your family has just one car and can only afford to trade it in for a new one every five years.
I learned how some people will be unkind because you’re different. Some of the townsfolk would make fun of Mom because she wore thick glasses and knew a lot about centrifuges and particle accelerators. What many of them didn’t know, however, was that she won a blue ribbon every year at the county fair for her cold fusion-baked apple pie.
As a boy, I learned many useful things from the people of Faith. Our family attended the Southern Christian Baptist Church at the end of our street. But our neighbors, the Blacks, attended the Christian Southern Baptist Church on the other side of town. Yet my Dad would always say “Hello” to Mr. Black and even once lent him our lawnmower. I thus learned that we can still live in relative harmony with our fellow citizens no matter how striking the religious and doctrinal differences.
Like most kids, I was impatient with long Sunday services and often fidgeted and fussed until the service was over. But our pastor, Reverend White, knew that kids had short attention spans. So he would entertain us with humorous stories of how we Southern Christian Baptists would go to heaven while the Christian Southern Baptists would be condemned to walk the streets of Hope in eternal damnation bearing the mark of Satan on their misshapen foreheads. Yet he never ceased to preach the gospel of love for all mankind.
Even the poorest and the saddest citizens of Faith helped to guide me through life. Many people looked down on Mr. Wallace as the town drunk. But even Mr. Wallace had his own special wisdom to impart to the town’s young people. Like how to collect and cash in enough empties to buy a bottle of Thunderbird or how to get high drinking Sterno without risking a trip to the emergency department.
Like most eighteen-year-olds, I was eager, almost desperate, to leave my hometown. But looking back, I now realize that I could have done far worse than to live my life in Faith. For example, I could easily have spent fifteen to twenty years without parole in the state prison located halfway between Charity and Hope.
Thanks to the hard work of my parents, I was able to attend Yale, Princeton and Harvard where I earned a B.A., a B.Sc., an M.B.A., a J.D. and a Ph.D. After my college career, I served in both the Army and the Air Force before pursuing consecutive stints in Vista and the Peace Corps. I then simultaneously interned at the law firm of Smoot & Hawley, clerked for Chief Justice Bryan, worked as an investment banker and volunteered at the local homeless shelter, youth center and food bank.
Most of you know the rest of my story: municipal councillor for four years, state senator for six years and then contemporaneous terms as governor and Vice President. Some say I’m not ready to be President. Well, maybe I don’t have all the fancy-pants qualifications of my opponent. But I have something far more important: the lessons learned from the good people of Faith.
Those lessons have stayed with me my entire life. Lessons such as pretending to like country music and bowling, being able to choke down a spicy, ethnic sausage with a warm beer and knowin’ when to drop the final g’s when speakin’ to just plain folks like you and me.
So don’t believe those big city reporters and those big-shot TV newscasters. My mom always told me “Don’t get too big for your britches, sonny, and don’t forget to use just a touch of vermouth in your martinis.” If I ever forget those lessons, you can be sure she’ll come down to Washington, box my ears, set me straight and replace that pretentious olive with a good, old-fashioned twist of lemon peel. Good night “mes amis” and God bless America.