My First Election
I remember the first time I became invested in an election night.
I was 13. I had just had my bat mitzvah on October 18th, and I was writing thank you notes each night since. Painstakingly, which is how I do almost everything. A note that said, “Thank you for the ______. I really appreciate it.” wasn’t enough for me. I was compelled to much more detail and embellishment, such as, “Thank you for the __________. It will come in so handy when I _________.” Or, “I especially like the _________ part of it.” Just something that would indicate that I’d really considered the thought that I imagined had gone into the giving of that particular gift.
That evening, I had brought my parents’ “portable” TV into my bedroom. A 12” back and white, with a handle on top for carrying. It weighed a ton, but the company put a handle on it and called it “portable.” (“And here’s another reason why you should buy the Brooklyn Bridge. [Indicating handle on side of bridge] It’s portable!”)
As I wrote my notes, I watched the election returns. I had never really been interested before in an election night. But, this night felt very different to me. It was 1968.
As the evening wore on, it became very clear that Humphrey would lose to Nixon. I felt a sadness that I can still viscerally remember today. And why was that? I was 13, I didn’t really know a lot about politics. I did know where my parents stood. They were Democrats, who generally voted with the ticket, and they were pretty progressive, although my dad still didn’t like teenagers and their “arrogant ways.” (He did vote for Reagan once. Blech.) But, they were very aware and generally knew right from wrong, and I admired that. And I knew that they’d voted for Humphrey.
I liked what I saw in Humphrey, what he exuded. And I was repelled by Nixon. I didn’t know why. I just was. And in six years, the reason would become very clear.
Last night’s election results saddened me deeply. Sure, I wanted “my side” to win. But, the point is that some of the people who were elected last night want to take our country down a path that is so wrong, so evil, so against the freedom for which I believe this country stands. And the fact that there were enough people pulling the lever for them and not enough for the others makes me really sad and angry.
The Walkers, the Scotts, the Ernsts - yes, they won last night, but that doesn’t have to stop us. I will keep my voice raised high, and I will fight them at every turn. And I hope you will, too. Please don’t lie down. Keep speaking the truth. You are needed.