What's In a Name?


My Dad enjoys recounting the tale of a High School classmate of his who struggled

through her teens with a dubious name. Dagney Middlefahrt, he claims, was a girl of

strong Germanic descent who received no small dose of the adolescent teasing and

ridicule that would obviously accompany such a title. Those developmental years are cruel

enough with a more middle-of-the-road moniker, one can only imagine the pain that a

name like Dagney Middlefahrt generated. After years of suffering and frustration, Dagney

could stand it no more and, acting on the advice of some of her closest friends, legally

changed her name the day after her High School graduation. From that day forward, she

would proudly introduce herself as Gertrude.


The impending elections raise a myriad of questions. Some of us are concerned with the

issues. Some of us tend to view the whole thing more along party lines. And then

there's the vast majority of us, like me, who, having done our best to ignore as

much of the political process as possible, are far more likely to cast votes based on our

simple perception of a candidates name. Do we like this guy's name or are we

uncomfortable with that one? Does this one's name inspire trust and does that

particular name carry personal history for me? It's simple human nature. Which

brings us to the Minnesota election scene.


There are a handful of choices so glaringly appropriate that it makes one wonder if names

actually have been changed to sway the voting public. For instance, who's not going

to vote for someone named John Hancock for Assoc. Justice for Supreme Court 2?

That's almost too good to be true- a famous American statesman, president of the

Continental Congress, first to sign the Declaration of Independence, real fancy

handwriting- like I'm really going to vote for the other guy, whoever he is! And

I'd be pretty comfortable voting for Floyd Frank for State Rep.; not only is the

alliteration good, but I like the connotations offered by the direct, simple notion that I

won't get any gobbledygook from someone of that last name. Consider the

"feel-good" quality offered by a Breedlove or Sweetland vote. But my personal favorite is

Ole Olson, State Rep. Candidate in District 13A. Vote for him? You better, 'cause

in a state like Minnesota with a name like that, chances are pretty good you guys are

related. Uff-da.


Not all the names listed on the ballots this year, however, carry quite that positive a spin.

Does Presidential candidate Ralph Nader realize that Webster's dictionary defines

his last name as "the lowest point, a time of greatest depression or rejection", though Al

Gore ("clotted blood") and George Bush ("cheap or petty, as in 'bush'

league") fare little better in that book. Does State Rep. potential Susan Hoosier understand

that, perhaps, she'd get better political mileage by running for election in Indiana?

Isn't it unfortunately ironic that the U.S. Senate seat has become less a question of

Rod Grams than his son's grams? Does County Commissioner candidate Stan

Sumey grasp the notion that his last name sums up the single biggest problem in our

current legal system? I'm not sure I want a County Commissioner who lives up to

his name if, indeed, under pressure, Brian Withers. I don't care how politically

correct the world is getting, County Commissioner hopeful Jerry Gay has got to

understand he's bound to lose a few votes in the more red-necked regions of this

state. And State Senator Dallas Sams must realize that those green and white, fancily

lettered "Dallas Sams" campaign posters are so eerily reminiscent of our long departed

NHL team that I become horribly enraged at the mere sight of them and would never even

consider a vote in that direction.


Then there are the names, like Dagney Middlefahrt, that open themselves up to such large

amounts of adolescent examination it makes one wonder why the political hopefuls would

expose themselves to even more public scrutiny. Wasn't High School tough

enough on them already? For instance, you can argue all you want about the culturally

correct way to pronounce it, but 9 out of 10 people come to the same conclusion when

confronted with State Senator candidate Ron Dicklich's name on a roadside

billboard. And if the "e" was intended to be a short "e", there would be a double "n" in State

Representative aspirant Maxine Penas' last name, at least that's what my 6th

grade teacher would contend.


Yet, despite all my wonderment at these candidates stumping around the State of

Minnesota in their "ill-fitting" monikers, maybe it makes more sense than is, at first,

apparent. Haven't these people already endured decades of ribbing and teasing and,

like Dagney (or Gertrude) Middlefahrt, come out with their self-esteem intact? They are

certainly made of tougher stuff than I and, perhaps, deserve more attention when it comes

to an attempt at political office. They see no need to change the facts to make themselves

more politically palatable, they are stiff-spined and straightforward. Secure in themselves

and experienced and immune to some of the crueler facets of human nature, these folks

are probably better suited than most for life in a public post.


Vote for the issue or vote for the party or vote for the name. Its your election.

Just vote and don't pay too much attention to anything you might read here.

Remember, you can't put too much stock in anything a guy named Lyin's

might say.


Timothy Lyon


Baudette, MN