Luckily I'm not one of those having to eat my hat over Casey's victory in yesterday's Republican Party convention at Timp View High School in Provo; however, I know of several who did, not to mention those who enjoyed a breakfast of crow and eggs this morning after learning the news.
"We Won!" Casey bragged on his Facebook wall yesterday. I read his statement and wondered if the victory had already gone to his head. Notice how Casey had used the royal "We" in his announcement, meaning he regarded himself in the plural - a designation unofficially reserved for those in lofty positions of power. Watch out for Casey's reply to this paragraph. "We are not amused," is my prediction.
Saturday morning I decided to show my support for Casey and drove to Timp View to participate in one of Utah's largest Republicanware Conventions. Everyone knows that a Republicanware Convention is where the company will have all their new and improved products on display for all to see and hear (hear being the key word in that phrase). I couldn't find room in the school's parking lots, and not qualified to park in the 'special lot' (you had to submit to a finger prick blood test to see whether or not you bled blue), I had no choice but to park a block away in the lot reserved for "All Others". My walk to the New Jerusalem was festooned with placards and signs urging me to vote for people who knew me better than myself. They all knew what I wanted (as evident in the wording of their signs) and promised to take care of MY interests. I'm not ashamed to admit my vote (if I had one) would have gone to anyone able to discern my desperation for a Diet Mt. Dew.
Casey's signs were more prominent the closer you got to the auditorium's entrance. Notice Casey's blatant overuse of red. We all know that red signifies REVOLUTION! It was Casey's way of warning the Party's old guard that change was coming, and they'd better get with it or get swept away by it.
"Are you a delegate?" I was asked repeatedly by the candidates' offspring, cousins, nephews, nieces, spouses and campaign workers. Each held reams of paper explaining their candidate's stand on every issue from global warming to hangnails. My negative answer wiped the smiles off their faces. They waved me on in search of better prey.
"There's over one acre of prime Amazonian rain forest in all this paper," I believe I overhead one of the campaign workers say to another. They chuckled, secretly hoping their laughter was causing the hair on the back of Al Gore's neck to stand on end.
It didn't take me long to realize the good stuff was being held in reserve for people identified as convention delegates, so I thought I'd give it a try.
"Are you a delegate?" I was asked at the door.
"I'm delegating myself to be here," I answered awkwardly, hoping my feeble attempt and subterfuge would work.
The pimpled girl looked confused, shrugged her shoulders and showered me with extra papers and a handful of free M&M mini packages bearing her candidate's name. I smiled. I was 'in the club' so to speak.
The auditorium's commons was the designated gathering place for candidates. Each had their own table. Colorful signs decorated the cinder block walls. It looked like a sanitized version of a middle eastern bazaar complete with buyers and sellers (I noticed the sword swallowers and fire eaters were missing. They would have made a great addition to the festivities).
After some searching I found Casey's display near the back exit. He was entertaining a good sized crowd. The people seemed memorized by his soothing, hypnotic voice as he preached the good news of the coming conservative era of peace, land and bread. I believe I also heard him say something about responsible government and fiscal responsibility - but I can't be sure; I was standing too close to his boom box playing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's greatest patriotic hits.
"Who are they kidding," Casey explained to a delegate (shown above). "The common core is just that - common; dead common. Aren't our children more important than that? Utah's children deserve something better; THEY DESERVE AN UNCOMMON CORE and you may quote me on that." Casey smiled. His pearly white front teeth sparkled in the fluorescent lighting.
My arms broke out in goosebumps.
"What are your thoughts about violence in schools?" the woman in orange (above) asked Candidate Casey.
"Good question, good question......" Casey paused for a moment to let the crowd grow a bit bigger.
He cleared his throat and began. "I believe we need MORE violins in our schools, not LESS!" Casey drove the point home by slamming his right fist into his left hand. Our overemphasis on math and science has come at the expense of art and music. If I'm elected your party chair, I will insist on more violins in the schools!"
There was dead silence and a long pause as Casey took the time to look each of them in the eye.
"Thank you," his voice broke the silence. The crowed roared in approval.
I moved to Casey's side and snapped the photo above. Here is the face representing the new generation of Republicans (photoshopped and all). Here is the face of the young boy who spent much of his childhood at the Space Center. Here is the face of a great volunteer and flight director. Here is the face of someone who believes that the sky is the limit. Here is the face of the nation's future.
"What do you think of Casey Voeks?" one of Pleasant Grove's convention delegates asked me after noticing my "Vote for Casey" sticker.
I explained that I wasn't a Republican or Democrat, but a proud Independent. She patted my shoulder and told me I wasn't completely gone - as long as I hadn't drifted into the enemy camp. I told her what I knew about Casey.
"Hummmm, well I think I'll still vote for him," she said as she walked away. I took the sticker off. I wasn't doing Casey any favors.
I found the auditorium and took a seat. Kyle Herring found me. I'm glad we sat together so he could explain the behind the scenes politicking going on around me. Casey appeared shortly thereafter and started working the congregation.
Casey zeroing in on a delegate
Case was this close to us........ this close. He pretended not to notice us. He shook hands with the gentleman in front of us, then turned to work the lower section of the auditorium.
"Casey!" I semi-shouted. He stopped, turned and smiled (not out of happiness we were there, but out of embarrassment that we had caught him ignoring us non-voting camp followers). We shook hands and he disappeared into a sea of well-wishers.
Later that morning, Casey was given 5 minutes to address the convention. It was his last chance to garner support. He spoke quickly; he had a lot to say. He voice was passionate and direct. He spoke specifics. He used well rehearsed hand and arm gestures. He was in command of the podium. He had the crowd. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when he finished. I watched as toddlers and babies were being passed over the heads of the delegates to the front podium for him to kiss. Several of the younger women in the crowd fainted, other delegates and onlookers were seen writing checks. It was amazing.
Casey had won the day. We are proud he is a part of our Space Center family.
Friends, while some of the events in this story above were exaggerated and added to make the reading of a political event more enjoyable, let me be sure you understand how amazing Casey was. He handled himself like a pro. He addressed the issues and came across as someone who could handle the job of Utah County Republican Party Chairman. Keep an eye on Casey. He has a bright future ahead of him in politics, and I'm told he never forgets a friend. So if you're not one of Casey's friends - you'd better text him right away and become one. The Casey train is leaving the station with or without you :)
Casey proves that even a back woods Lehi boy can make the ordinary, extraordinary.