|Jan. 27th, 2008 06:32 pm I finally understand.|
I finally understand.1 comment - Leave a comment
Throughout the younger years of my life, I never understood my mother's support of the democratic party. I admit, the first election I remember is '88, and that only poorly. I remember my mother being sad when Dukakis was defeated, and soundly. She seemed nervous about what would happen. Since then, I've always tried to understand her pull of politics. Now, I finally do.
I remember bits and pieces of the 88 election. Mostly 'read my lips, no new taxes.' And how that simple phrase catapulted gaunt and thin elderly gentleman to the White House.
I don't so much remember the politics of the following years, but I remember the ramifications of the H.W. Bush presidency. The recession, mostly. And the difficult times felt so much moreso by the middle class, and my single parent household. I remember my grandmother being worried about paying for her medication. I remember a number of family friends being laid off, and general fear not only for themselves, but for children.
I don't remember 92 as much as I wish I could. I remember my grade school holding mock elections, and getting a basic run-down of what each candidate thought. I remember Desert Storm, and the wave of Patriotism that many felt, especially given the massive success of the war. I also remember Ross Perot. On election night, his independent yellow color in stark contrast to the more traditional red and blue, that even I recognised as political nameplates. I remember Perot getting no electoral votes, but I remember my mother being quite pleased that he was in the election. I asked her why, and she said he made sure more states weren't red. I sort of understood, but sort of didn't, because I didn't know the platforms of the 'independent' party.
But what I remember most of the 92 election wasn't election night, but rather the weeks leading up to election night. The times after dinner we went to the local democratic center, and my mom worked the phone bank. After a 9 hour day, with a 75 minute commute, my mother dragging my sister and I along, because we were too young to be left alone yet. I remember after her weekend job shifts, which started at 6 am, of doing much of the same. Of sitting, bored, wanting to go home. And wondering why I had to be there, and why she had to be there. What difference would it make if she called anyone? Or volunteered in any way? And even if it did make a difference, why did she have to do it? Why did she force my sister and I to be bored to tears those countless hours in the time leading up to the election.
In 2000, I was too young to vote. I wanted Gore to win, because he was a democrat, but I didn't have any personal connection to Gore. I know I didn't like his veep, but I knew I didn't want a Republican in the White House. I wasn't entirely sure as to why, but the Clinton years seemed better than the Bush years, so it seemed logical. Plus, the partisan witch hunt of the Lewinsky scandal soured me on the GOP, likely irreparably. My mother didn't volunteer, and I was working, and preparing for college, so I didn't follow the race as closely as I could have. The democrats lost, and I was troubled, but not as much as I should have been. I didn't know what would follow. How could I have? How could any of us?
In 2004, I took it all for granted. The fact that Kerry COULD lose seemed impossible. 4 more years of THIS? SERIOUSLY? It seemed absurd, and almost comical that we'd have four more years. I remember voting for the first time. I remember being so proud of being able to cast my ballot. Not because I liked Kerry or what he had to say. But because I was old enough to participate in voting, I was pleased. I admit, I wasn't that well informed on either candidate. Nor did I care to be. I was in college, and I took it all for granted. Besides, I didn't really like Kerry all that much. I don't know anyone who did. But we all expected him to win nonetheless. Needless to say, we all know what happened.
I am not so naïve as to say that the absolute fascination and magnetic hold that this particular election has had on me was formed within a vacuum. I am not so naïve as to say that my love of politics and the nation is because of how inspiring this year's democratic crop is. Or how bad the last eight years have been.
I know it's an amalgamation of all of it. It's inexorable, and inescapable. I have to care about this election. This is not just my time to take an active role in how the nation will go from here. This is all of our times. This is the time when the common man comes out and votes. This is the time where we have participation beyond anything we've ever seen in the history of American voting before. This is the time where history will be made. Not just with turnouts and with participation, but it could very well be the first time we have a Black or Female president.
I never understood how people could care so much about millionaires who live in Washington who likely don't give me or mine a second thought. But then again, I never thought, as I do now, that the candidate I support did care about me. I feel that way now. I feel that not only do I have to vote, but I have to get others to vote. Whether or not you vote for my candidate of choice, that you have to get out and vote. That the low turnouts and general apathy of the nation have what led us down this road. Sure, we can blame obvious parties for the result of the last eight years, but we can only blame ourselves for letting it happen. We can only blame ourselves for electing him. And for not voting our own party until 2006. And for still allowing him to continue without massive public outcry against what he's doing.
But, this election is going to be different. This election is going to change things.
I understand why now. I understand what it means to not only want someone you believe leading this country, but also what it means to believe in someone. I understand what it means to volunteer for someone. To give up precious time and energy for someone you've never met, and never will. What it means to hear someone's words, and be comforted. To know that this country may be going in a direction that I had never seen before. I know what it is to support a candidate who I would wish my own children to emulate. To be proud that my candidate of choice is someone who I will be proud to represent America as the best of what we are. Who embodies freedom, integrity, honesty, and the democratic way.
Mom, I understand now.