Skip to main content

Birth of a Democrat


Last week, I got a call from the Obama campaign asking me to help with the Get Out the Vote efforts that weekend. I said that I would try to make it. When I hung up, Mallory demanded to know where I was going and when.

"I might go help knock on doors and ask people to vote for Obama," I said.

"Can I come too?"

"No, I don't think so," I said. "I don't think it's something kids need to help with."

"Why not?"

"Well, for one thing," I said, "I've never done anything like this before and I don't really know how people will react. Some people might be rude to me, and I don't think you'd want to be there for that."

"How would they be rude to you?" Mallory asked.

Chris interjected, "They might call Mommy a liberal."




I realized that I was a Democrat in 1988, at the tender age of 16. Before that, I was fond of saying that I voted for the man, not the party, a claim borne out by my voting record -- in 1980, I helped Reagan win by a landslide in my 3rd grade class mock election; in 1984, I was a lone voice for Mondale in my 7th grade homeroom poll. There was also the day when, annoyed by the banter of the sportscasters calling the football game on TV, I ranted about how unfair it was that these idiots were making millions of dollars talking about football, while my dad, a farmer, who grew food to feed the masses, made no money at all. My dad laughed and said, "Good heavens, we've raised a populist!"

On this day in 1988, my debate coach arranged for the entire high school debate team to go see a speech by Robert Bork. The debate team consisted, incidentally, of myself, my best friend, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend's best friend, who was also dating my sister, who elected not to come see Robert Bork, and who could blame her. I remember not a thing about the substance of the Bork speech; I do remember being bored. Afterwards we went out for pizza and our coach asked us what we thought. "I didn't agree with This," I said, "and he didn't really explain That very well, and when he was questioned about The Other, he totally skirted the issue."

My boyfriend scoffed. "What are you talking about? He was totally right about This and That, and The Other was a trick question." The argument that followed concluded with my boyfriend saying, "You just don't have an open mind" and the impression that he was disappointed with me for not being a conservative, like him. (In spite of this conversation, it took me three more years to realize that the two of us were not MFEO -- made for each other.)

What I remember most about this incident is not just how completely I disagreed with Bork and Boyfriend, but also how astonished I was that not anyone disagreed with me. Not, I hasten to add, because I thought I was so smart or politically savvy or had all the answers, but because issues seemed so clear to me. I was as shocked at hearing that Boyfriend thought X about Y as I would've been if he'd suddenly said the sky was green, or the sun traveled clockwise around the earth. Sometimes I still feel that way about politics -- I have moments when, after cheering a poll that gives my candidate 52% of the vote, I wonder why on earth he doesn't have a bigger margin. What are people thinking? I think to myself. I just have an affinity for the liberal-leaning viewpoint; it's as natural to me as speaking English, as inborn as having hazel eyes. (In my defense, I will add that I don't accept anything blindly -- I do my best to educate myself on the issues, although one could say that my education is limited by the fact that my news comes from NPR, The New Yorker, and The Daily Show.)

So I have to remind myself, quite often, that for 48% (or more) of my fellow citizens, it's the opposite -- that they're drawn to conservative positions not because they wish me ill, or hate bunny rabbits, or insert tinfoil hat conspiracy here, but because they genuinely and instinctively feel that those positions better serve their interests and the interests of the country. We just see things differently, me and them, and that's cool, that's what America is all about.

And honestly, much as I like and admire Obama -- and just a plug here, not that it matters, but I've read part of his book The Audacity of Hope, and not only is he intelligent and articulate, but he seems completely committed to bringing people together, to listening to alternate viewpoints, to working with all sides and compromising to find solutions that benefit the greatest number of people -- much as I like him, as I was saying, I don't have great hopes that the world will change if he gets into office. He'll be inheriting a huge mess, for one thing, and improvement is going to come slowly no matter who's President. I'm not voting for him in hopes of a change in day-to-day living, but in hopes that he'll pave the way for a better world for my kids, eight or twelve years down the line. And also because, having been crushed by the defeat (or, um, theft) of Al Gore's bid in 2000, and depressed by the loss of Kerry (whom I wasn't even crazy about) in 2004, I just kind of feel like it's our turn.

I just can't express how nervous I am about tomorrow, in spite of the polls looking good. I hope, I hope, I hope. And I wish it was over already.

Comments

aimee said…
North Carolina is a state to watch tomorrow. Oklahoma not so much. But I really made sure to educate myself on people and issues this time. I am excited to vote!

And today, I had a hard time remembering who ran against Bush 4 years ago. But know I'll never forget the Bush/Gore race. This race, too, will remembered.
Anonymous said…
Well said!

Mom

Popular posts from this blog

Wrapping it up

No, not like that:



I am way behind here. I don't think I ever posted about Mallory's birthday, and I had some thoughts about Christmas decorations which I guess I'll save until next year, and I should tell you about the fab time I had with my family last week, but instead I'll just sum up 2011.

Best Books Read:
There But For The by Ali Smith
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

Worst Books Read:
Obedience by Will Lavender
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Best Movie:
Bridesmaids

Fave TV show:
Modern Family; also Prime Suspect but I think they're taking it off the air

Proud of myself for:
Teaching myself how to crochet
Losing 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas (now need new pants)

Best new experience:
Riding a Segway with Aimee through downtown Charlotte

New places traveled to:
Atlanta
Chicago (prefer Chicag…

Is this thing on?

It's an odd thing, not wanting to give up one's blog but also never really feeling like updating it. Anyway, I'll take the easy way out and highlight the past few weeks of our lives in pictures:



Phoebe. Is there anything funnier than a Phoebe? Above she is dressed up for her half-birthday at school (since she's a summer baby). (She did, in the end, decide not to wear the hat.) Every outfit, every clothing changed is thought out with precision detail. Where she gets her fashionista tendencies I do not know.

A few weekends ago she suddenly announced that if I did not get her a pair of jean shorts she would just die. This was alarming, but since we had to go shopping anyway, I said I'd see what we could find. Luckily we found some on sale. She has taken them off only to go to school --she wears them to bed! -- and she thinks they look best when she wears them with a skirt-shirt, as shown:



...and is frustrated by the fact that she mostly has skorts, which cannot be pul…

Stomping Ground

As part of a Social Studies project that has overtaken our lives, Mallory is conducting a tour of cupcake bakeries in the Triangle area. The research involved in this project, as you will imagine, has been quite tasty. Yesterday we went to Chapel Hill to visit Sugarland, a bakery featured on Food network which also happens to be right across the street from where Chris and I first met.

Chris and I kept mentioning this kind of thing -- This is the restaurant we ate at on our first date! This is where I'd pick your mom up after class! Our first apartment was right down that street! -- and each time the girls would say, "Ewwww!" It's unclear why details of our past life disgust them so greatly. "If your daddy and I had never met, and had never dated, you wouldn't have been born," I've said numerous times. Mallory, however, seems to find the whole concept of dating very unpleasant, and I think Phoebe just doesn't like to contemplate a world before s…