Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#FirstElectionMemories


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!)

11 comments:

Ray said...

I can't say "I knew Ronald Reagan was the devil the moment I laid eyes on him," but I can say I knew he was senile way before he won the election. I knew he'd be very close to fascist, too. By 7:30 in Dallas they had already called the election for Reagan. A friend called and said, "Break out the chastity belts. He won."

Damian said...

The Reagan-Mondale election passed me by, at least in my recollection, even though a woman running mate should've stood out to me somehow. So it was 1988 that first made a big impression on me, mainly because I helped my sister with a school project that involved compiling election-related Doonesbury comic strips. That kind of clued me in to what was going on politically, and even in my liberal bastion I don't remember any adults that took Dukakis seriously. I felt bad for him when he lost, and that was before I had any idea it was setting the stage for Dubya a decade later....

Dan said...

I'm old....this was my first from 2nd grade (they'd not let him in the party now). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmCDaXeDRI4

Tim said...

This is a cool queery Kenneth! In 1960 I was 10. Small B/W TV set, a Magnavox! I remember Richard Nixon sweating like a dog on his upper lip. It was very noticeable, he refused to use makeup and he looked like Dracula's brother. In those days everything white was supposed to be blue. He wore a white shirt anyway. He looked terrible. My Dad kept saying how bad he looked like the devil. I do not not remember the content but only the event. JFK looked like a seasoned veteran and very Presidential, as he was meant to be. Not long ago I ran the U-Tube Funeral of JFK. It was just as emotional now as it was then. Donald Trump is convinced he is Presidential. He does not hold a candle to JFK, They debated issues, I don't care how much he got, he (they) never talked about *ussy. Neither do I. Thanks, this is a cool story to remember.

MSC said...

Okay, I'm officially old. My first time voting for President was in 1976, and I voted for Gerald Ford.

Dan said...

The first campaign I remember is 1968. I remember my Dad waking me in the morning and telling me RFK had been shot. I was only 9 but it meant something to me.

Kelly said...

My first election memory is the Reagan/Mondale race in 1984. My class participated in the Scholastic News mock election. I sat at a table with 3 other students, and we all decided that we had to vote for the same candidate. We voted Reagan. I've hung my head in shame ever since.

Bob Kellerman said...

I remember a sign which I think was at the 1960 Democratic Convention, reading LIKE in Broadway Marquee lights.

It flashed "I like Ike".

I remember voting for Shirley Chisholm in the Democratic Primary in 1972

Jennifer O said...

The first presidential election I was eligible to vote for was in 1992. I was studying in Toulouse, France, at the time, and I voted for Clinton on an absentee ballot. Some of us Americans gathered to watch the night unfold on television. Good times.

Doug Miller said...

First vote was Dukakis '88. I sent Jimmy Carter a dinner invitation when I was 7 because I saw it on "Eight is Enough." I got back a signed photo that I still have somewhere.

Brian M said...

I was a canvasser for McGovern in 72 and a HUGE fan of John Anderson in 1980...all before graduating from high school in 1981

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