Tuesday, November 06, 2012

It's Tuesday!

This morning I walked to our polling place (Clark elementary school in Belmont) and walked to work from there.  Expecting long lines, I left plenty early, but while they were certainly doing a brisk business, the line was not exceptionally long—not like in 2008, when people were lined up out the door at 6:00am.   I’ve been voting in the same precinct since the year 2000 and see the same Belmont neighbors there that I then don’t see again until the next Election Day.  I like this continuity.  The election volunteers at Clark school are invariably friendly and helpful.

This year, Brigid is voting in her first presidential election.  Another Virginia voter for Obama!  My own first presidential election was 1988: George H. W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis.  I had to go to Wikipedia to see who the losing candidate was.  Failed presidential candidates seem to fall into a special black hole of forgetfulness. (If you can name their running mates without looking them up, I will admire you effusively in an upcoming post.)  I do remember my helpless rage, having to face the smug republicans at school the day after the election.  

In 1988, I was at a conservative Jesuit college with a strong college Republicans' club.  Up to that point I had been only dimly aware that there could be such a thing as a republican Catholic.  My great-grandmother believed that it was a sin for a Catholic to be a republican, as my mother was fond of reminding us.   We attended an extremely liberal Catholic church; the Newman Center at Buffalo State College.  My parents were liberal, Catholic democrats. (Technically, my mother was registered as a republican, but that was only so our household had a representative voting in all the primaries.  She always voted for the democrats.)  I grew up believing that being Catholic meant being passionate about social justice. It was the era of nuns being murdered in El Salvador,  “Marriage Encounter,” whole wheat communion wafers, and  folk music and macramé hangings at mass. 

In an earlier election year (2004, I think) a visiting priest stood brazenly at the pulpit at mass at our church in Charlottesville and gave a homily on why it was sinful to vote for the democratic candidates.  I would have gone storming out of the church, except for the fact that my father was visiting and I didn’t want to make a scene.  After mass, my father told me he was just as disgusted as I was.  I wish we’d both stormed out.

Tell me about your first presidential election.


  1. Same as yours - Bush vx. Dukakis. I don't recall much, I far more vividly remember the next election - Bush vs. Clinton. I still have my "Bill Clinton, he's a leader not a ruler" wooden ruler they were handing out on the concourse at Auburn that year.

  2. In 1972, as a small boy from a family of hippies, I went door to door passing out leaflets for George McGovern in the most Republican neighborhood on the East Coast. Since everyone who voted that year accepted on some level that McGovern was a much better human being than Richard Nixon (even the most right wing people would generally admit this), I was certain that McGovern would win. Of course he was crushed completely. This was a good lesson for me as I learned that being a good human being was a terrible handicap for a candidate.

    The first time I got to vote I voted for Mondale, who was of course, crushed.

    Lloyd Bentsen was the Dukakis running mate. He notably said to Dan Quayle (who had been comparing himself to JFK during the campaign) during a televised debate, "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

  3. Laoch, my parents used to have a bumper sticker that said Nixon:49, America:1, referring to the fact that McGovern carried Massachusetts, which is where we lived at the time.

    Thanks for remembering the VP candidates. Now that you've jogged my memory, I do remember that "You're no Jack Kennedy" line. I had utterly forgotten Lloyd Bentsen.

  4. I just missed the 1988 election. Not quite 18. I remember that my parents voted for Dukakis.

    My first presidential election was 1992, and I voted for Bill Clinton. I was very liberal and very into politics in those days. Clinton wasn't my first choice--I was rooting for Jerry Brown during the primary--but I was happy to support him against Bush 41 and very excited when he won. I felt like I imagine many young Obama supporters felt in 2008. (Really!)

  5. The first time I could have voted was Mondale/Reagan. I remember a lot about Geraldine Ferraro being the first female VP candidate, but I can't remember if I actually voted in that election. I don't think I did.

    I remember being rather intimidated by the process of voting, even after I'd done it several times. I still go in to the polling place these days, and confronted with several 100-year old election judges who can't hear a thing you say, I'm never sure exactly what I'm supposed to do. Somehow I stumble through the process each time.

    I did vote for Dukakis, and then by the next election, for Clinton, I was much more politically aware.

    I'm bringing my daughter with me today --I'd like her to get used to the process, something I never did with my parents.

  6. I have never voted for a president. But I did vote for Margaret Thatcher in 1983 - my first general election!

  7. I know this entry is about elections, but I just love this: "I grew up believing that being Catholic meant being passionate about social justice. It was the era of nuns being murdered in El Salvador, “Marriage Encounter,” whole wheat communion wafers, and folk music and macramé hangings at mass. " My mom baked whole whear communion wafers for our church and I remember one time we had a young parishioner ballet dancer perform a dance to "Tis a gift to be simple" at Mass. How much more liberal Catholic can you get than that! It was a rude awakening when we moved to another church and I saw that being Catholic did not always mean being about social justice....maybe I wouldn't label myself as a "recovering Catholic" if we had stayed with that first church. Still...Cokie Roberts on NPR this morning said that Catholics voted for Obama, so maybe there are still enough of us/them around.

  8. That's nice to hear, Cara. I'm glad I'm not the only Catholic left who voted for Obama.