Ray Barone


For some people, life is tough: a never-ending series of uphill battles and shoveling shit. In these people, the fires of constant struggle forge iron political wills and steely resolves for change.

Ray Barone is not one of these people.

Growing up on Long Island in the 60s, Raymond enjoyed a comfortable middle-class upbringing. Benefitting from the Keynesian economic policies of America’s “golden era” , he received a high quality education, and although never shining academically, excelled at sports.

The sixties and seventies went by in a whirlwind of little league games and mama Barone’s pasta bake, supported by Frank Barone’s salary as a bookkeeper.

When he got his first chance to vote in 1980, two years of rising inflation and a recession under Carter had largely gone unnoticed by Barone, the only lifestyle change a few extra dollars on gas to commute to his new job as sports reporter at the New York Newsday.

It was the influence of Frank Barone, Korean War Vet and tax accountant rather than a strong anti-Carter sentiment that pushed him towards voting Reagan, but then again, who didn’t? He voted for Reagan again in ’84 , and for Bush in ’88 but swung to Clinton in 1992.

In 2003 while sitting in bed watching ESPN, to her dismay, Debra Barone discovered that her husband had voted Bush in 2000 after interrogating him about an offhand comment he had made about Gore being a “sissy”. According to Ray, he had voted for Dubya “cos I dunno, he seems like a good guy who I’d watch a game of football with.”

Debra, one of two girls brought up in a well-to-do Catholic family, had fallen in love with the Democrats at an early age, instantly smitten with JFK, who would become a role model during her teenage years.

In 2004, Debra, this time aware of her husband’s past voting record, guilted Ray into voting for Kerry. In the immediate aftermath of the election, Raymond whined incessantly that Debra had “made him choose the loser.”

Raymond’s vote for Obama was sealed after his Newsday colleague sent him a YouTube clip of the candidate sinking a three pointer while touring Iraq.

Ray Barone

Cinderella


One of the great contradictions of modern politics is the practice of individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds voting against their best interests. Thanks either to a desire to escape their social circumstances, or xenophobic, scaremongering tactics of the right, rural and urban poor have demonstrated an irrational tendency to vote with their misguided hearts, and not with their impoverished heads.

Cinderella’s ambitions knew no bounds. Despite her poor social circumstances, she dreamt big and was critical of those around her who saw welfare as a means to an end. Her sisters, thought Cinderella, were typical examples of ‘trash’ – keen to have a good time, blow their time and money on drinking and men, and content to settle below a glass ceiling which would never see them ascend to greater heights than their parents – who had been equally as impoverished growing up.

One problem with Cinderella’s world view was that, like so many of the unprivileged, she herself was caught in the poverty cycle. She didn’t receive a quality education and found it impossible to find work. This she blamed on bad luck and her family’s insistence on locking her in a basement to perform chores. She failed to see her family’s fortunes for what they were: typical of a system that lacked a social safety net and which favoured the rich through lucrative tax breaks.

Cinderella wanted better for herself and better for her future family. She always voted Republican, seeing the Democratic Party as a champion of the institutional welfare she found despicable and damaging to society. She went door knocking for local candidates and was frequently abused on election days by the majority working class, Democrat-heavy area she lived in. “GOP bitch,” they would yell. “Fascist slag,” others would say. She would take it all with a smile, knowing that her time would come, and that she would one day leave behind the small thinkers of her village.

Upon ‘marrying up’ (as she put it), Cinderella’s world view was validated. She knew she deserved better and saw the union not as an accident of circumstance but as something she deserved. She threw herself into the Republican Party, hosting fundraisers and using the Charming name as a means to support candidates both at a local and national level. She became a key Faraway Kingdom booster whose soirées were as notorious for their fundraising power as they were for their canapés.

All the while, however, she could never quite escape her roots. Even as her profile grew and grew and her reputation sparkled, Cinderella still endured taunts behind her back at fundraising events, with frequent whisperings of “gold digger” and “social climber” levelled at her by her new-found friends.

And while she was annoyed by these taunts, she could see their point. She never argued that the shoe didn’t fit.

Cinderella