American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver’s-license age than at voting age.
–Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964
As Election Day 2008 approaches, I’ve been thinking back to my childhood and the events I remember surrounding the Presidential Elections that make up my history.
Around 1968, thanks to living in the South, I remember George Wallace being shot while campaigning as a Third Party Candidate against Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.
I know my parents voted for Nixon.
By the time I turned 10 years old, and thanks to Mad Magazine and television, I was fairly aware of the 1972 Election and Nixon’s landslide re-election against Democrat George McGovern.
I have vivid memories of Nixon’s resignation later on in that term, and his second Vice-President Gerald Ford taking over the office of the Presidency.
By that time, the “news” that colored my perception of the events were Cheech and Chong and Firesign Theater and the Watergate Comedy Hour albums I listened to, courtesy of an older brother.
By 1976, I was reading the hometown daily newspaper sporadically and saw the editorial cartoons parodying Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” program and the infamous WIN buttons. I was watching “Saturday Night Live” and seeing Chevy Chase portraying the “clumsy” Jerry Ford, falling down in the White House.
Our house was decorated in Bicentennial regalia as our country celebrated a year-long 200th birthday. I remember everyone gathering around the TV each evening for the Bicentennial Minute series shown every night on CBS. (After about 3 months, watching this “minute” of television seemed like too much time)
I remember an unknown peanut farmer and Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, running for President and capturing the hearts of the American people and spurring curiosity about what this young Democrat from the South would do to change the previous policies of 8 years of a Republican White House. I knew that he had “committed adultery in his heart”, thanks to late night TV comedians.
He had a great smile, a soft voice and he loved his Momma. I liked Carter.
My parents voted for Carter.
As I headed toward high school graduation, Carter faced a foreign policy nightmare when on November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took approximately seventy Americans captive. This terrorist act triggered the most profound crisis of the Carter presidency and began a diplomatic ordeal for Jimmy Carter. News reports aired nightly on the hostage crisis and the American people endured the crisis and empathize with the hostages’ families for 444 days.
The beginning of the crisis and the American peoples’ reaction reminds me today of our similar thoughts regarding the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.
In May of 1980, I turned 18 years of age. I reluctantly registered for Selective Service at my local post office and went next door to City Hall and registered to vote.
I graduated High School a week later and began a “last summer” before college. I could drink alcohol legally, I could smoke legally, I could drive, and plans of stardom filled my head. There were girls to date, parties to attend, and the summer was for squeezing in as much fun as possible. An upcoming Presidential election seemed years away.
How would I vote?
PART 2 CONTINUES TOMORROW, OCTOBER 31, 2008
“Getting Political” is a semi-regular feature of “On The Road With Dave”. While Dave is no political pundit by any stretch of the imagination;”Getting Political” allows him to stretch that imagination.