It’s not real until you tell your mother, right?
I grew up in a mediocre town in Florida. Not too big, not too small. Very conservative, very southern. We’re talking football on Friday nights shutting down the town, College football causing family feuds, and muddin’ on Sundays Southern.
My frist memories of politics took place in this town. It was 2000 and I was in eighth grade. In my Gifted Education class, we were split up into three teams – one dedicated to the G. W. Bush campaign and the other dedicated to the Gore campaign. For the next month leading up to the Novemeber 2000 election, it was our job to try to gain the votes of the third group. I was on the Bush campaign. I remember being a staunch Bush supporter by birth – my parents are both pretty die-hard Republicans – so it only seemed natural for me to be chosen for his team. In the end, Bush won both the actual election and our Gifted election, although he had a less controversial time winning in our classroom.
I learned a larger lesson from all of this. I learned that politics fascinated me and that it akwakened a part of my mind I had not experienced before in my 13 years. I learned that people really did have the opportunity to make a difference, if they took the leap of faith to put themselves out there and ran. it was also the beginning of the development of my diplomatic personality that has served me well in the decade since.
So, you ask, why is my vote up for grabs?
September 11th. The Iraq War. The questionable policies of G. W. Bush and his administration. In much the same way that President Obama has some young Democrats jaded and confused, President Bush left me wondering why the answer had to be war, why so many people in my generation had to pay the price for his policies, and why our nation needed to police the rest of the world. Some of these are strong statements and seem very biased, I know that. I can reason both sides of them (as any poli sci student can). I just can’t shake the feeling that things oculd have been done better and we could have avoided some of our entanglements.
The first election I was able to vote in was the Obama/McCain election in 2008. I was one of the young voters who got caught up in the wave of hope and change generated by the Obama campaign. As an international affairs student, it was incredibly invigorating to go from a President who prided his administration on their selective isolationism to a candidate who openly admitted that the United States needed to engage the world as a whole, not just the nations that interested us. His rhetoric drew me in and I thought that I had finally found my place in the political scene – that maybe there were politicians out there who thought like me and looked past all the partisan politics to what just made sense in the crumbling world economy.
Needless to say, I’m still looking for that candidate. While Obama hasn’t lived up to my grandiose expectations, I do think he has done a lot of good for our country. I’m just not sure if he deserves another 4 years to see if he can improve upon what he’s done so far. With a House stacked against him, it’s going to be hard and given the current climate I doubt that future elections will help to reverse that for him.
So this morning I finally admitted to my mom that I’m not sure who I’m voting for this coming election. She’s always teased me about being a Democrat, so I expected to hear some satisfied comment about me finally seeing the light.
Instead, she just sighed and said “Neither do I, honey. Neither do I.”
Maybe there are people out there who think like me after all.