My first experience with politics should have been my last. Turning eighteen, I visited the county courthouse just a few blocks from where I lived to register as a voter and also for the soon to be abolished draft. The supervisor of elections was a man I knew from childhood. I started first grade with his daughter and we went through twelve years of school together. One of his older sons was one of my schoolteachers in 8th grade.
Both my parents voted straight Democratic party tickets carefully comparing votes prior to each election so as to not cancel the other’s vote. I think they assumed I would also follow the Democratic party path.
I first expressed political opinions during Nixon’s 1972 re-election. I actually wore “Nixon’s The One!” and other buttons as a form of protest against a classmate who was voicing support for McGovern. (I still have the Nixon buttons) Oh, to be young and stupid!
At the time I went to register to vote the primaries were cranking up for the 1976 general election. For reasons totally forgotten to me now, I didn’t care for any of the Democratic contenders. However I was taken with the Republican ‘Scoop’ Jackson. Maybe it was his “hawkish” position which seemed attractive after I spent several years in high school NJROTC. When I told the supervisor my desire to register as a Republican he informed me I couldn’t. He said due to the small number of registered Republicans the county only held a Democratic primary, so I would be wasting my time.
Many years later during a conversation with the then current supervisor, I told her of my experience. She commented that I was not the first person to have that happen and in fact there had always been Republican primaries in the county where I lived.
Hmmmm. Deep, dark thoughts. I have not pursued the issue mainly because the original supervisor had passed away long ago. But it still might make an interesting story to tell with the proper research.
The only winner I have picked in any U.S. Presidential election was Jimmy Carter. Interesting because he was viewed as so ineffectual. Staying in the Democratic mainstream I voted against Reagan and Bush. Growing more disenchanted by anything labeled as “politics”, by the time Clinton arrived I was voting “Libertarian” or not at all.
Now here is the weird part. Since Carter, I have experienced no major problems with how the government has been run nor with how it has treated me as an individual. In short, life has been good and I can’t complain. If the candidates I choose always lose but things work out in my favor anyway, obviously I’m doing something wrong. My theory is I’m not qualified to vote and should leave it in the hands of people who know what they are doing!
Telling this story to someone over lunch one day, they responded by saying I was putting entirely too much thought into the whole process. But isn’t that the idea? Aren’t you supposed to educate yourself to make an intelligent choice? If you just walk into the voting booth uninformed, pull the lever (or punch the chad) without thinking, why bother?