AUSTIN, Texas, June 22...Anarcho-Feminist presidential candidate Leah Schildkraut lost the support of several major Texas fundraisers last night when she vowed to change the Lone Star state's "culture of exploitation, intimidation and deceit."
"We spoke the truth to money," rued spokesperson Nancy Garner-Bentsen. "And money didn't want to hear it."
The fundraising event , which was heralded as Schildkraut's first foray into the world of campaign finance, had been weeks in preparation. Hundreds of people jammed into Shorty's ribs to hear Schildkraut speak. Garner-Bentsen, the socially prominent president of Daughter's of the Texas Republic told reporters " we had us a good-old fashioned round up and herded every heavy-hitter in the liberal establishment into our campaign corral."
Texas has a history of supporting maverick candidates. H. Ross Perot, a billionaire Texan polled 19% of the votes in the 1992 election and was credited with costing George Bush the presidency. This time around some liberal dissenters were muttering that a Schildkraut candidacy might take the feminist vote away from Democrat Barrack Obama in this closely contested state.
But Garner-Bentsen went ahead with the rally. "I've been reading the Anarcho-Feminist platform, and I'm tremendously impressed," she told the crowd. "We all agree that this country needs revolutionary change and I believe Leah Schildkraut is the woman to deliver it."
The crowd cheered as Schildkraut in her trademark green Starburys, cargo shorts and United Farm Workers sweatshirt, made her way to the podium. Thin, curly-haired and intense she made quite a contrast with blonde, tanned, trainer- fit audience, but they shouted with enthusiasm when she raised her arms and shouted: "Texas will make history tonight."
Diamonds sparkled in the darkness as Schildkraut, blinking back tears, began her speech.
"It is fitting that Texas become the first state to enlist in our cause," she said. "Because Texas is symbolic of everything that is wrong with America."
The applause died down as Schildkraut continued.
"Texas was born in blood and conquest," Schildkraut said. "Its founders were so land hungry that they actually threatened military action against the New Mexico territory and had to be bribed by the US Congress into renouncing their claims."
The audience stirred. Somewhere in the darkness a woman said "my great great great grand daddy was a founder..." and was quickly hushed by her neighbors.
"Texas was built on courage and hard work, but also on naked exploitation," Schildkraut said. "Before the Civil War 30% of the state's population were African-American slaves and many more were Mexican laborers, all tightly controlled by the white minority through a repressive enforcement culture that continues to this day."
In the astonished hush a few women could be heard, asking: "what did she say?"
"The white minority controlled the ballot box and order was maintained by legalized violence," she said. "Between 1882 and 1930 there were 492 documented lynchings in the state and many hundreds, perhaps thousands more that went unreported, but are chronicled in the local archives.."
"That's ancient history," somebody shouted.
"I wish it were," replied Schildkraut, "but Texas continues to do violence against its citizens. It leads the nation in executions, having killed 26 Death Row prisoners in 2006. But this has not deterred people from committing murder. Since 1990 more police officers have been killed in Texas than any other state. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, three of the largest cities in the state, are in the top twenty-five in murders per capita. Texas also leads in more people incarcerated than any other state. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one-quarter of all the people on probation or parole live in the state of Texas..."
An elderly woman rose, jowls quivering. "I did not come here to hear my great state insulted..."
"You came because you embrace change," Schildkraut said. "Well, change begins with the wealthy and the privileged making serious sacrifices..."
"Obama was here and he didn't say anything about us sacrificing," a woman shouted.
"You've got 3,128,759 people living in poverty as of 2001, almost fourteen per cent of the population and you know that number has increased," Schildkraut said. "You'll have to make a radical change in the economic structure of the state and the nation.."
"Obama said it was the lobbyists fault," a woman said.
"He blamed China and the special interests," another shouted.
"He says he wants change, too," "someone else said. "He's my kind of liberal."
Schildkraut pleaded "Change will never come until the gap between rich and poor is eliminated..."
"You like poor people so much ask them for money," a woman shouted.
In the darkness the stampede of high heels could be heard as the women headed for the doors. Motors roared as the gleaming SUVs sped into the night.
A distraught Garner-Bentsen confronted Ms. Schildkraut. "You have to tailor your message to your crowd like McCain and Obama do, Leah," she said.
As the lights went on there were two women left in the room. One, Chris Gregg, of LIBS, Lesbian Inmates Benevolent Society, came forward with a $300 contribution. The other, Fatima Abdelaziz, from LAF League of Arab Feminists gave $25.
"Keep trying," she said. "Your message will be heard."
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