Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Civics Lesson

With my 12-year-old son living in Spain for most of the year, I like to give him as great a taste of America as I can when he is here with me.

As hands-on civics lessons go, it's hard to top going to meet a candidate for President of the United States. LP candidate Michael Badnarik was touring Indiana in support of his own campaign, and in support of his mother's. Elaine Badnarik is running for Indiana Lt. Governor, and had her candidacy announced earlier in the day. The LP's reception was held at the Rock Lobster, a restaurant and bar on Broad Ripple Avenue.

When Alex and I entered, we were stopped at the door and told that minors were not permitted inside. I had the feeling that state law would not prohibit us from entering, so I pressed the issue. The doorman checked with someone inside and confirmed that they wished us not to enter.

Fortunately, State Chair Mark Rutherford witnessed this and went inside to bring Mr. Badnarik out to us. He came out and shook our hands and then chatted with us about the increasing party unity and the successes of the Indiana party. He encouraged Alex to talk about things that matter to him with those around him. Michael's father brought "Badnarik for President" pins for everyone outside to wear.

The crowd outside grew, with US Senate candidate Al Barger, Marion County Treasurer Charlie Kennedy, intern Josh Hanson, and several others hanging around. The Libertarians stood out like a sore thumb: Dreadlocks, long hair, shaved heads, those with pierced everything... these were the people walking by. The Libertarians were wearing suits and ties. It was surreal.

Josh Hanson was outside because he is under 21. We were soon joined by Elizabeth Fazioli, who is running for County Commissioner in Hamilton County. Despite the possibility that she could be one of the highest ranking officials in the region come November, she too could not enter because she is also only 20.

This was fascinating, because Alex can enter bars in Spain at any time. He was aware of the cultural difference immediately. Eating in a Spanish restaurant more or less means eating in a bar. Rock Lobster is a restaurant and a bar. A friend explained that the bars were under pressure from local authorities over underage drinking. I pointed out that the owner of the bar has the right to have his own rules of order, and if they wanted us out, we'd comply without a fuss.

So there we were, standing outside a bar with a candidate for President of the United States. There's one for the 'what did you do over the summer' spiel at school!

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