Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Political Reawakening

There was a time when I was really into politics. 

It all started with the presidential election of 1992.  Bush/Quayle v. Clinton/Gore (v. Perot/Stockdale).  I was in 9th grade.  I like to think I was cool, but the evidence points otherwise.  Because I became OBSESSED with that election.  I would tape the debates on my VHS tape recorder, and rewatch them.  I would watch the news incessantly (from 5pm on).  I collected articles and newspaper clippings.  And when Clinton won, I took the covers of all the major magazines (Time, Newsweek, whatever else there was back then), and pinned them up on my wall.  Yes, some teenagers my age had posters of Johnny Depp on their wall.  Bill Clinton graced the spot above my bed. 

In some ways, my future goals were shaped by that election.  It was the first time I had really been interested in something outside of my high school, my town, myself.  I would go into politics, I thought.  It was my calling.

Sure enough, I ended up majoring in Political Science at Penn State.  I worked at an internship in the House of Commons during my semester abroad in London and loved it.  I volunteered for campaigns.  And then, I landed the golden ticket - an internship in the Clinton White House. 

I felt it was fate, really, where I belonged.  I still loved Bill Clinton (despite all the scandal that had tainted him the year before).  I couldn't wait to see him in person, to walk the halls of the White House, and to serve the administration.  Then a weird thing happened. 

I didn't really like it. 

It's not that I expected quality work or anything.  I had been an intern and volunteer long enough to realize that a large part of my job would be fetching soda and sorting files.  It was just that I didn't like the atmosphere.  The fake smiles.  The name dropping.  My fellow interns seemed more intent on filling up their resumes than on serving a cause.  And I suppose in some ways, I was the same.  What was my cause, after all?  It was nothing.  I left DC disenchanted.  And then I applied to law school. 

In the years that passed, I became more disengaged from American politics.  Though I consistently voted Democrat, I stopped closely following elections.  I stopped watching the debates.  I stopped engaging in political discourse.  I stopped caring, pretty much.

But this election is different. 

A few months ago, I started reading about politics again. I found myself watching CNN for leisure. I found myself getting passionate.  Not just about particular candidates, but about particular issues.

I still didn't watch all of the debates, but not because I wasn't interested.  Because it was too painful.  Almost like when you are watching a scary movie, and all of a sudden it becomes too much, and you don't want to watch the whole movie anymore - you just want to know the ending.  I turned off the first debate a half an hour in because it was so nerve wracking.  By the third debate, I mustered up the courage to watch it the whole way through.

I found myself caring again.  I also found myself asking why?  Why now? 

But isn't it obvious? 

I want my boys to grow up in a world where the environment is clean.  Where if they happen to be gay, they can get married.  Where if they aren't gay, their wives and their daughters have the right to choose what to do with their bodies.  Where they can get a good education and not go bankrupt.  Where they can have access to health care no matter what their financial status is and whether or not, God forbid, they have a preexisting condition.  Where they can take more than two weeks paternity leave and get paid for it and their wives can do the same.  Where they can travel abroad and feel safe and proud and adventurous.  Where they can have the best life they can possibly have. 

I care about this election because of them.  And it's because of them that I walked to the polling station at 6:30am this morning, felt good about it, and didn't even care that the line was already out the door. 

I don't have the luxury of being apathetic anymore.  

Now lets see where history takes us with this one...


  1. Clinton was elected on my 20th birthday, in my first term of my political science degree and I CARED so much (despite being a Brit, although a bit of a DC-o-phile as you know!).
    It is three days after my 40th birthday, and again I find that I CARE so much about the result I will wake to tomorrow morning...

  2. It appears I'm not voting for same guy that you are voting for but my kids are also my inspiration for voting this election.

  3. I know this is a mommy blog, but are mommies incapable of being inspired to do anything for any reason other than their kids??

  4. Ughh...come on Anonymous at 1:04. Don't be such a generalist. Being inspired to vote to make the world a better place for your children is fabulous. I was inspired to brush my teeth today, and it wasn't for my kids, it was for my own well-being, thank you.


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