On the heels of the harrowing "Share Your First Assault" Twitter campaign, thought it would be fun to do something less depressing, asking everyone to share their first presidential-election memory. (Please post in the comments below!)
Although I have the haziest memory of being in the John R Motel with my brothers, Billy and Terence -- where Dad was holed up after my mom finally kicked him to the curb -- watching television when George Wallace was shot during the 1972 primary, the first one in which I "participated" was the mock election between President Gerald Ford and Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter in Ms. Schnabel's 4th grade class at Hiller Elementary School in Madison Heights, Michigan.
It was the one and only time I voted Republican -- if Hillary was briefly a "Goldwater girl," I suppose you could say I was once a "Ford fairy." But given that I grew up in a close-in Detroit suburb that was heavily populated with what we knew as "Hillbillies" -- i.e., people from Kentucky and Tennessee who'd come north to work in the auto industry -- I forgive my 9-year-old self for being turned off by a man with a thick Southern accent who ran idiotic jingles like this, which still plays in my head on a regular basis. (Ford was also all I'd ever known, and a fellow Michigander.)
My lack of approval lingered on, I might add, leading to my running the Anderson for President campaign in 1980 at Rhodes Junior High, in Mesa, Arizona, where we moved in 1979. Although my mentor and favorite teacher Sherry Herman -- who once told me she was viewed by the faculty as a "three-time loser" ("I'm a woman, a Jew and a dyke") -- explained to me that the Illinois representative didn't actually stand for anything, I knew Ronald Reagan was the devil the moment I laid eyes on him, so I forged ahead anyway. I suppose it was my version of a protest vote, albeit an ill-informed one. The punchline to that story, of course, is that I made a series of phone calls to Anderson headquarters soliciting campaign buttons and bumper stickers, even inquiring about having Mr. Anderson do a rally at our school. Things took an awkward turn when I realized the person I'd been speaking to thought I was a (female) teacher at the school -- not a student -- which led to some shenanigans that put J.T. LeRoy to shame, with me eventually posing as "Kay" Walsh's aide for the goodies hand-off!
(I'm a HUGE Carter fan now, by the way!)