Did you hear the one about the Republican father, Democratic mother and their son who registers for the Green Party?
You will if you go to a campaign appearance by Bill C. Davis, who is running for the Fifth District congressional seat.
Davis, a professional playwright, doesn't intend to give campaign speeches. Instead, he plans to recruit actors and produce performances of the "Green Dialogues," a series of short plays he's writing about political issues.
"It's comedic in tone, but issues definitely get discussed," said Davis. "It might keep your interest better than a politician droning on and on."
He hopes the dialogue in the plays will explore all sides of issues. "Most political problems are dilemmas and it takes the will of the people to decide which direction to go," he said.
Davis hopes to follow the plays with open discussion forums. That, he said, will help him "really get a view of where the public is and what they stand for. We'll discuss things like organic farming and universal health care. I have a lot to learn and we can all learn together."
The fifth district includes a large swath of western, northern and central Connecticut. It ranges from Danbury north to the Massachusetts border and then west to Meriden.
In the Danbury area, Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Milford and New Fairfield are in the district. So are Waterbury and New Britain. The latter is the home base of the incumbent congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, a Republican now serving her 12th term.
Two Democrats have shown interest in challenging Johnson. One is state Sen. Chris Murphy of Cheshire, who is the co-chairman of the legislature's public health committee. The other is J. Paul Vance Jr., president of the Waterbury board of alderman.
The Green Party is most closely associated with Ralph Nader, who ran for president under the party's banner in 2000.
But the party, which has a pro-environment, pro-consumer, pro-feminist platform frequently runs candidates for lower offices and has won seats on town councils in some places.
Davis, 53, is a resident of the Terryville section of Plymouth, just north of Waterbury. He has no political experience. But his claim to fame is that he is an accomplished playwright.
He's best known for the play "Mass Appeal," about an experienced priest and a rebellious seminary student, which was made into a 1984 movie starring Jack Lemmon and Charles Durning. Davis has also written several other plays that appeared on Broadway and other places throughout the country.
Davis said it was through his career as a playwright that he got involved with politics. He was writing essays for the political Web site, commondreams.org, when Thomas Sezigney who ran for office in Hartford under the Green Party banner, got in touch with him and urged him to run.
"In a way, it's the last thing that I want to do. But that's also kind of what qualifies someone to do it," said Davis. "The population has become too passive. I think the time has come to get more activated. For me, running for office is not an ambition, it's a citizen's service, which is why I feel I make an ideal candidate. I think it's important that everybody steps up and runs for office."
Despite the novelty of plays being performed during campaign appearances, some political observers give Davis little chance of getting noticed, much less winning.
"I'm picturing people with long hair up in the hills," said Gary Rose, a Sacred Heart University political science professor, on hearing about Davis's unconventional campaign ideas.
Rose said third parties can play a role in spreading ideas. And he said third-party candidates can influence close elections; some observers think Nader siphoned off enough votes from Al Gore to cost the Democrat the presidency in 2000.
But Rose said that Johnson has a stranglehold on the district and it's unlikely that a Democrat could run close enough to Johnson for Davis to be a factor.
"The campaign doesn't seem to have a lot of appeal," Rose said of Davis. "It will probably be a campaign that goes unnoticed."
Like many Green Party candidates, Davis will not accept campaign donations from corporations. And he will support other parts of the Green Party's platform.
"Those are things like social justice, ecological wisdom, non-violence, diversity, gender equity," said Davis, who also opposes the war in Iraq.
His other issues?
"The government should get behind people who want to retrofit their house to solar, so a house could produce more energy than it consumes. I'd love to see the federal government create a fund for that," Davis said.
The playwright said he doesn't have to win to consider his candidacy a success. If people who watch his plays look at politics — and politicians — a little differently when it's all done, Davis will be happy.
Politics should be "about humanity and human beings and not just cogs and wheels," he said.
© 2005 by The News-Times