Thursday, August 7, 2008

My First Presidential Election

No it is not what your thinking. I am not one of the "first timers" being referenced all over cable news "entertainment" programs that are supposedly swelling the ranks of the Democrat voter base. I am referring to the first actual Presidential election night that I can actually vividly remember as a child growing up in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.

I was ten. And I remember November 4, 1980 as if it were yesterday. The youngest of eight children and being the only child of my parents born south of the Mason-Dixon line I can look back now and how the result that November night certainly shaped my entire life.

I can draw many parallels now as a so-called "grown-up" with three children of my own and married to a New Yorker to that period in our nations history. I still can see my father and I taking the car up to the Shell station and parking it in line the night before returning in the morning when gas was available to fill up the tanks. I can still see myself sitting in the car listening to the radio and hearing the songs of the day. Remember those huge station wagons?

At ten years old I think that that time period was the trigger for my own political ideology. The election of 1980 resulted in shaping and molding much of not only what I believed in myself but also how I believed in my country. Ronald Reagan's optimism had much to do with that. It was a time where I repeatedly saw our nations flag being burned in Iran by followers of Ayatollah Khomeni. It is important to note that this was an era where WE actually embraced the Pledge of Allegiance and were not ashamed in referencing "God". Much of the issues regarding the rise of socialist-leaning ideologues I believe is a direct result of removing such traditions and practices by our youth who through such practices learn to embrace their nation and its foundations. Good and bad.

Many today work to undermine such connections our young people may have with the traditions of the past and I know now as an adult the reason why they do so can be illustrated in my life. Influence is a powerful thing.

As a young person growing up in Virginia in the late 1970's life probably was not has hard as other places in the nation. Our economy was seeing rising inflation, high unemployment, and gas shortages were severe in areas like California. I grew up in the burbs of Washington, DC and fortunately was probably sheltered from the severity of such an economy. That said, however the world climate had also deteriorated. As a young boy, sports was amajor influence and I recall the boycott of Olympics where 60+ nations refuse to compete in Moscow in 1980. I have no recollection in 1976 Montreal where 20 some countries boycotted those games only to say I can remember the name Nadia Comenich (sp) from Romania. I was six. But I can recall watching Soviet tanks roll into Afghanistan and being told by my parents that the aggression was the reason we as a country would not be going to Moscow. This coupled with the Iranian Hostage Crisis which seem to last a lifetime...if you think people get annoyed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC every night reminding us his been blah blah since victory was declared imagine being ten and constantly watching men with hoods over the heads and guns on the TV every night after dinner trashing America.

You remember "dinner" right? That tradition of the entire family sitting around the table and eating together at supper time every night as a family. I find it funny that today you hear all these pundits talk about "kitchen table" issues when like no one even eats around the kitchen table anymore it seems. For the most part back then, all my friend moms and my own were stay at home moms and most folks households were based on one income. What a throwback I know. No doubt trying that today in these times is very difficult.

The thing I recall most about Reagan is; one the hair and two he made me laugh. He was funny and real to me. I liked him instantly. Later it would be the jelly beans. Jimmy Carter, the man whose picture sat atop the chalk board at school in every classroom....yet another tradition fallen by the way side I might add...I recall peanuts, weird accent, and his daughter Amy for some reason a mere three years older than myself. Of course just like today, and I was way too young to understand it all but Carter LIKE George Bush got blamed for everything. What a parallel.

My mother was a strong supporter of Jimmy Carter. So was my grandmother. Thanksgiving dinner in 1980 was not much fun let me tell you. I can remember listening to the adults in my grandmothers Maryland home blame Kennedy. The only Kennedy I knew anyhting about was JFK from school. It was years later I realized they were talking about Teddy Kennedy. Evidently the fight at the Democrat Convention for the nomination was a nasty one that rippled through the Party. Kennedy (38%)seeking a staunch liberal platform for the Party and Carter(51%) not so much. My mother to this day still has no love for Kennedy and I think never forgave him for opening the door for Ronald Reagan.Are we seeing another parallel here yet? You should. In speaking with my mother, still a Democrat by the way, she draws direct comparison to the issues befronting the Party between Clinton and Obama supporters. The Reagan Democrats in her view came right out of the nasty struggle for control of the Party during the Primary that was so negative that Reagan's optimistic charisma drew people towards his message. Could Clinton supporters be moving to John McCain? We shall see shortly I guess.

Election night was terribly hard on my mother. I can still see her holding her hands in her face in despair. I stayed up with her which seemed like forever, but it was 8PM when the race was called for Reagan. 489 electoral votes to 49. It was my introduction to the Electoral College with my mother and father walking me through the concept inits simplest premise. Frankly, I was simpy waiting up to catch some scores and see how Virginia went honestly. I keep hounded my parents about Virginia. Alas even before the West Coast was finished voting it was over.

My mother always seem to take solace in the fact that Maryland/DC both went for Jimmy Carter. 44 States though cannot have been wrong I guess. Nevertheless the disappointment sat for days or so it seemed. I learned some years later than my father was one of the Reagan Democrats, go bless him.

So why was 1980 the trigger? Well, you have to remember I was 10 and when Ronald Reagan left office was 18. The only other major event during that time I can recall with the same vision or significance was the 1980 Miracle on Ice at the Winter Games. On the coattails of that event and then Reagans election ,1980 was a very significant foundation upon what my parents had always sought to instill;

Family, Faith, Community, Country.

Ronald Reagan reinforced what my parents always attempted to instill in me. And from 10 to 18 years old, the President was certainly the kind of leader I think my parents both accepted as a great model, political thought removed on my mothers side of course. Reagan directly influenced my life and of course

With my oldest turning 7 before the Election I doubt she will recall this Election but given that the result may certainly impact her for the next four if not eight years, I certainly have been reflecting on my experience quite a bit lately. In the end she will make her own mind up regarding her future ideological path to be sure, but I cannot help but wonder just which one of these nominees can reinforce in her the same Family, Faith, Community, Country message?

I wonder indeed.

By the way:

"A Recession is when your neighbor losses his job. A Depression is when you lose yours. And a Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his!" (Ronald Reagan)

Classic.

3 comments:

Gail said...

Not saying he is the best option. Would have preferred Mitt Romney, but John McCain is the answer.

It always baffles me how the National Party elite always manage to get it wrong and push forward too liberal or too conservative much of the time. This time at least the republicans got it half right.

Obama may be charismatic and quick with jab but in the end he is a very strong liberal in the same tradition like Ted Kennedy was in 1980.

I am a little older than you fellas but Ted Kennedy speech before the Convention was one of his better moments.

Right now the potential for Hillary Clinton to do the same thing at this years Convention and I think she just might do it eben though Obama has the nomination already secured.

I opted to support Ronald Reagan as a Democrat and for the most part feel the same way today. I will not support Obama nor any liberal for the Party at the same time I am opposed to much of what George Bush has undertaken.

I knew last Fall that the economy would be the key issue and not Iraq and though of all the candidates Mitt Romney would have been the best. He worked with a liberal State government with success and his business background is stellar compared to the other guys up on the stage from either side. Career politicians to the core.

Would have liked to see Bloomberg maybe throw his hat in the ring though. In the end I guess I will be one of the "hold their noses" votes for McCain.

I think that something tells me that the Democrats are gonna find a way to lose this one. They probably should not but liberals just have not been successful and if he does lose than the DNC should take note when it pushes for nominees from the stocks.

Anonymous said...

I had not thought of this cycle in the same manner as 1980. Though the analogy is not exactly right on it comes pretty close.

I think if people really looked at the records in Congress they would see that Barack Obama really is another Ted Kennedy. I think people need to ask themselves would they be supporting the same platform if it were Kennedy at the helm. The policy matters are the same. remove the charismatic oration and you still left with very liberal legislating.

I think if people consider it in that context some of his support will wain. Another aspect is we just do not know what the Clinton's are really up to. Being given two nights at the Convention is simply naive by Obama if he thinks they will not use it to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

I was a life long Republican until I started using my critical thinking skills. The problem that I have with McCain and the Republicans is they really have not done anything to make this a better country than it was when McCain first got into politics.

Remember that AMMCO transmission commercial where the mechanic fails to repair the transmission and then tells viewers, can I get another whack at it? How many whacks are the Republicans going to get to fix our country?

I view the Republicans as a bunch of Pharisees who pretend to help others. There are no good Samaritans in that bunch! They want to regulate how others live their lives as long as it does not infringe on their viewpoint.

They believe that anyone in need of assistance is nothing more than a deadbeat unless of course it is a big corporation.

Money protecting money is there motto! The environment is theirs to use up and destroy with no obligations to our children. Just as long as they get the American Dream, they could care less about the rest of the world. Kind of an oxymoron when they claim to be Christians.