Political Awakening

Tomorrow California has its primary elections … yes, these things are still going on. Rather than get involved in the current political issues facing this country, I decided instead focus on my earliest memories of the political process and world events.

My first experience with politics was in 1980. I remember going over to my grandparent’s house and the topic of upcoming election came up.

Photo From the 1980 Carter / Reagan Presidential Debate

“Who are you going to vote for, Grandma?”

“Jimmy Carter”

“Why him?”

“I’m from the South.”

“I didn’t think anyone was voting for him this time.”

“Tammy,” my dad interrupted, “that’s enough.”

“But Dad, you’re the one who said …”

“Enough!” in the voice that let me know he wasn’t messing around.

The first time I was really aware of the world outside the US was when I was 10 years old and Poland went under Martial Law. All I remember of that event is that each night the news had a counter in the upper right hand corner that said the number of days it had been going on. There was very little information coming out about what was going on inside. It made things feel scary that the government could just shut everything down and put the whole country on restriction. I was assured by the grown ups that it couldn’t happen here. I wondered if little kids there had been told the same thing before it happened.

ABC News Broadcast Image of Polish Martial Law
Watch the ABC broadcast video.

In my early teenage years, I remember going to the polling station with my mom. I waited with the election workers as she slipped into the booth. I’d wanted to go with her, but I was told that this is a private thing and so important it needed to be done alone. The poll worker gave me an “I voted” sticker to wear. I asked my mom who she voted for, and she said that the great thing about this country, and why we have the booths, is because we didn’t have to tell anyone who we vote for. It’s a secret.

I voted stickers
You can order your own!

I have voted in every election  (primary and general) since I became eligible to vote. The importance of having my voice officially heard has stuck with me.

What are your earliest memories of voting? What is your first memory of world events?

2 thoughts on “Political Awakening”

  1. Funny recollection of your conversation at your grandparents. We didn’t talk about politics in my family growing up. I vaguely remember who was running for president when i was in high school. I was busier with student government – actually very involved and held offices (in a high school with over 3000 students). I was in college when I first paid attention and came to form some of my political ideology. I, too, have voted in every election – local and presidential. I am not as involved as I should be, really. I found The Iron Lady to be interesting in that it opened my eyes to how a government that seems so similar to ours here in the states, has its own unique way of getting things done. and i followed the elections in france recently, too, and how they don’t spend near, near, any where near what we do here. I don’t know how anyone without ungodly amounts of money or access to it stands a chance of getting to the White House. That’s unfortunate.


    1. I have flashes of election memories before my teenage years. I was on the speech and debate team in high school, so staying up on current events came with the territory, and it started a habit that I maintain today. I was so intrigued by the politics when I was living in England.

      I’ve got the Iron Lady in my library queue. Can’t wait for it to arrive!


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