Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That time I ran a presidential campaign

in 1996 Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton for the presidential election and I was a young 8th grade student whose social studies teacher was organizing a school-wide mock election. Our class was split into campaign committees to run the show for Clinton, Dole, and a few of the third party candidates. 

The first thing I remember from this experience is that I learned how to spell "committee" after I had to go around the entire school adding the extra m and t to all of our campaign signs. 

But aside from spelling education, as I reflect back on that time of my life something else stands out to me:

When I told my parents about my school project and whose campaign I was responsible for, I remember a somewhat shocked look on their face but not much else. The thing that stands out to me looking back is how I had no clue about my parents political affiliations before that point. I had waited with them in line at polling stations and seen them pour over sample ballots. I had heard them talk about issues and what they liked and didn't like, but whatever they said was not enough to make me know if they were Republican or Democrat or who they were voting for.

I lived in a suburban area in Georgia. Dole took the popular vote in the actual election by about 30K votes and GA was a solid red. 

I remember that there was a clamor in the classroom to be the group who got Dole, that I didn't understand why at the time.  In the end, my group had Bill Clinton. We dove into endorsing our candidate with gusto. We researched his platform and campaigned hard. 

I have no idea who won our little mock election. I want to say Clinton, but that could very well be my selective memory. 

What is most striking to me in this hindsight is the freedom I felt as a teenager to evaluate a candidate and endorse him without worries about warring against family or cultural political sides. As I've seen numerous elections since then and watched the ever-present mud-slinging and what seems to be increasing polarization  I find myself grateful for the memory of that innocent engagement in politics and for parents who didn't root a political affiliation into my psyche. 

In a few hours I'll be participating in an election day communion. I'm excited about it and the chance for Christians to remember where our unity is found and to recognize that one is not saved by political parties. 

Blessings to you today: 

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-St. Teresa of Avila

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