Well in advance of the first presidential election after my 18th birthday, I registered to vote– as a Democrat, for no other reason than that I had to choose a party. While I was aware of world events, politics and party affiliation was, I admit, both new and foreign to me.
Finally able to legally vote, I was excited for the opportunity. Gut instinct told me that Ronald Reagan was the right man for the job. I have found that instinct is the best indicator when it comes to voting for any politician. In more recent years, I have taken to turning the sound off when a candidate appears in a video interview. I watch body language and facial expressions. Sometimes simpler is smarter.
It would be unfair to say that every word uttered by a politician is untrue, but I believe that he or she has to frame every word. Whether it’s off-the-cuff, strategically written on his or her palm, or on a teleprompter, every word is an attempt to please a PAC or perceived constituency and needs to remain within accepted party boundaries or risk a loss.
Consequently, we only get tidbits of information about the position each candidate holds in the myriad of national and international concerns. It is more important that we see the person and ask, “Do I trust this person to lead the country?” Lest it seem naïve, I cannot ignore everything said, nor do I think I ought to, but turning off the sound for a spell helps. Try it.
Election Day 1980 arrived and I went to the polling station at my local school, with nervous anticipation. I waited some time in line until it was my turn to state my name. It will help to understand that when I registered to vote, I insisted that my husband, who lacked my enthusiasm about voting, do the same. So it came as a shock when the person checking the voter registration list at the polls said, “I’m sorry, you are not on the list.”
Looking at the paper in front of this person, I saw my husband’s name. Still disinterested, he had not come along with me.
“But we registered at the same time,” I protested.
“Well, I can call the county and get approval, but right now the wait on hold is at least 30 minutes, and even then you might not get to vote,” was all I heard.
I was livid, and left feeling embarrassed and defeated. Many years passed before I paid the least bit of attention to real politics again, reserving my opinions. At the time, I was broke and had no idea how I would ever become successful, though pleased that Reagan had won despite being disenfranchised.
A couple of years later I found my archetype on TV. I fancied myself a female version of Alex P. Keaton– a fictional capitalist with a conservative attitude. It seems Reagan became a fan of Alex too, as the Museum of Broadcast Communications said, “President Ronald Reagan declared Family Ties his favorite program, and offered to make an appearance on the show (an offer pointedly ignored by the producers).”
The Presidential candidates today worry me more than those of the past. Maybe it’s that I’m more politically aware now than I was then. Possibly it’s that we have lost so much freedom in the name of security, and maybe it’s the incessant penchant that some seem to have for spending our future. It could be globalization.
Where’s Alex when you need him? I sure could use one of his political pep talks.