Drawing on the Right Side

Delegates and protesters duke it out: Who draws the best map of Texas?
by Published on

Outside the RNC, angry protesters from Texas cursed GOP delegates from Texas as fanatics, elitists, and deceivers. Inside, at Madison Square Garden and endless parties, delegates rolled their eyes and called protesters everything from naive to girlie to terrorists. The two groups were the proverbial twain that ne’er shall meet.

But wait—Texas Republicans and Texas protesters do have something in common: an ingrained knack for drawing their state freehand. Can most New Yorkers draw New York? No way! Nor can people from the majority of the swing states, because they don’t spend two years in grade school and middle school practicing the skill and getting tested on it, as Texan kids do in fourth-grade geography and seventh-grade history class.

All this is interesting, because there’s a subset of “graphology,” the psychological study of handwriting, that focuses on people’s drawings. Maybe it’s nonsense, maybe not. But one thing is certain: Ask a Texan to draw Texas and you’ll almost always end up with a picture—and some shmooze to go with it. With that in mind, I gave pen and paper to delegates and protesters, explaining that I was conducting a survey to see which group draws the state better. Tellingly, no one looked at me like I was an idiot. And after drawing, many of the artists got talkative.

Here’s what they had to sketch, and to say. As for who won the contest, you be the judge.

Geraldine Sam, 52. Alternate delegate. LaMarque. First-grade public school teacher. Spotted at Madison Square Garden on RNC Day One.

I was at the 1992 Democratic convention in New York City as a Jerry Brown delegate, then I switched in 1996. I always felt the Democratic Party took blacks for granted. Not once did they invite me to the White House, but since I’ve been a Republican I’ve been invited twice. And I was on the front row of the convention in 2000. Do I feel like a token? Not at all. Uh oh, this drawing came out terrible. My Texas is sick!

Ken Leonard, 48. Delegate. County Commissioner in Kaufman County. Spotted cheering Vice President Cheney’s speech in Madison Square Garden.

It was absolute genius to put Schwarzenegger on stage the other night, because the way we’ll win is with a unified party. How do I feel about the fact that he and Giuliani support things like legal abortion and gay rights? Well, it’s like when you’re eating a helping of fish and you get a bone. You just set the bone aside and keep eating. Here’s my drawing: Where did you say it’ll appear? Oh, Texas Observer. Well, I’m just glad my kids will never see it, because they’re at Harding [an evangelical Christian college] in Arkansas.

 

Judy Smith, Delegate. Montgomery. Spotted at a breakfast for the Texas delegation where participants offered intercessory prayer for the New York City Police Department.

I draw worse than I thought!

David E. Stone, Jr., 40. Alternate delegate. Rabbi at Beth Yeshua Messianic Jewish Congregation, Fort Worth. (Spotted at a reception hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, where John Cornyn and Tom DeLay told the overwhelmingly Jewish audience that Bush is more serious than Kerry when it comes to defending what the two pols called “Izzrul.”)

I don’t want anyone here to know I’m a Messianic—they’d just get upset. I got active in the Republican Party because of Israel. The Messiah is going to return to Jerusalem. There’s prophesies in Zechariah that say, “Look upon me whom they have pierced and they will mourn as one mourns for his only son.” I told the Republican Party I should be a delegate because I wear the kepah on my head, and Jews see that, so I can be a bridge to them. I love my people whether they believe in Our Savior or not, because eventually everyone will recognize the Messiah. Here’s my drawing: I put a Star of David on Fort Worth.

Keith Koski, 46. Protester. Houston. Home renovator and designer. (Spotted outside the New York Hilton hotel, where most Texas delegates were staying, protesting Vice President Cheney’s connection to Halliburton. Koski wore a mask impersonating Cheney and helped fellow protesters dressed as pigs root around in gobs of fake $100 bills they called “Hallibacon bucks.”)

Here’s the Nueces River. The Colorado. The Brazos. The Pecos. The Trinity. And this is the San Bernard. I know all these rivers because I’ve done a lot of fishing in Texas. I’m in the Tejas Bloc [a group of some three dozen people, most of whom came to New York City for the protests: They raised money for travel expenses by holding garage sales in Texas]. I’m also the Texas annex of the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane [an absurdist, anti-Republican street-theater group, based in San Francisco, that staged protests at the RNC]. I’d never done protest before. Then, a year and a half ago the Republicans began beating the drum to go into Iraq. I started holding up signs against Bush on Smith Street heading into downtown. I began by dressing as the Grim Reaper. I did it because of the level of injustice this government has been doing over the last four years: people dying, jobs going out of the country… Oh, I almost forgot to put the Rio Grande. It starts here, north of Texas.

Colleen (no last name or personal details given). Dallas. Member of CODEPINK Women for Peace, the feminist group that twice sneaked into the RNC, briefly disrupting speeches by Bush and Cheney. Colleen was spotted with fellow protesters outside Ford Theater, at a performance of the Broadway play 42nd Street put on for the Texas GOP delegation the afternoon before the convention started.

I’m the protesters’ liaison to the police [as such, she did not participate in her companions' chants, which included "Don't send Bush back to Texas! Send him to the Hague! How 'bout Abu Ghraib?" ]. I guess I drew it this way because I never had Texas geography. That’s because I went to a Montessori school.

Steve Boudreaux, 49. Protester. Kemah. Spotted at the anti-Halliburton demo. Arrested later that day in Union Square.

New Yorkers have a natural prejudice against people from Texas and the South, but they’re always surprised and glad when people like us show up to protest. Did you notice there are virtually no Texas GOP delegates from Galveston or Texas City? That’s because there’s unions in both places. Uh uh! You’re not going to get me to draw Texas. I’ll just do it like this.

Debbie Nathan, currently of NYC, drew Texas OK in Mrs. Edwards’ class in Houston, but got a lot of conduct cuts.

Debbie Nathan is a Texas native and writer who divides her time between New York City and the border. She is author, most recently, of Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case.