Sunday, November 12, 2006

An Awakening

So when did you first become a Democrat?

I was raised in a small town in Kentucky, and my parents were--and still are--conservatives. I was always a "Republican", in the way that children automatically identify themselves with their parents. I remember going to a Republican campaign rally in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was 1988 and the presidential election was less than a month away. Reagan was out with Bush, Sr. stumping for votes. I wore a green swater from Benetton (all the rage at the time). I was 13.

I was never very interested in politics, although I realize now my political tendencies were becoming more leftist. My senior year of high school I took a political science class, and even though the teacher was a staunch Republican, it was a fantastic class, and led me to eventually major in political science in college.

On my 18th birthday, I registered to vote, and I registered as a Democrat, much to my parents' displeasure.

During my sophomore year of college, I participated in the Philadelphia Program, which combined urban studies seminars with a professional internship in Philadelphia. I worked in the office of US Senator Harris Wofford. This was in the fall of 1994, and Mr. Wofford was overthrown by Rick Santorum in the Great Republican Revolution. So it was doubly pleasurable to see Mr. Santorum go down in flames this year.

Now I remain keenly interested in politics, and I like to volunteer for the Democrats every election season. You can read about my experiences this past Election Day here. My parents and my sister remain Republican, and it's just one of those things, like how they all have brown eyes and mine are blue, or how I am the only one who doesn't wear glasses. Being a Democrat is just part of my identity.

So let's hear your experiences and how you got to where you are now.

And I still want to see everyone's blue stash!


At 1:53 PM, Blogger Cassi said...

My conversion was fairly recent, within the past 3 or 4 years. I actually volunteered with the Young Republicans in high school *ducks*. As I've gotten older, I've slowly crept across the spectrum, although I'm not nearly as active in politics as I used to be.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger xvii_thestar said...

I've never been terribly politically active, but since the beginning of the Homeland Security bureau and Bush Jr's push for more and more power to "fight terrorism" I've been keeping a closer eye on goings on. I was planning to move to Canada after I finish college if things kept moving towards a police state but now that the Democrats have taken Congress I have hope once again that our freedoms will be protected. :)

At 2:20 PM, Blogger lobstah said...

Your story kind of reminds me of a good friend of mine who grew up Republican. In college she became a sociology major, which really opened her eyes to "reality" and she started to become much more liberal. Now that we've been out of college for 7 yrs+, she is slowly drifting back to conservatism. Of course I do my part to razz her about it mercilessly! :)

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Marianne said...

Came from a long line of Democrats, and it always made so much more sense to me, plus our family had some fairly liberal ideals and values...again, just makes sense to me.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Miss Lime said...

I think I was born a liberal democrat. My parents were always both pretty liberal but never tried to influence me with their opinions as I searched for my own.

From elementary school all the way through high school, there was one kid in my graduating class who drove me nuts. I could never put my finger on it, but every time I tured around, "D" and I would be arguing with each other... heatedly. There were times in my early school career that I couldn't even stand the sight of him.

During senior year of high school, we found ourselves in a Political Science class together. As always, the arguments continued until one day the teacher gave us all a survey. We were to fill out the survey oursleves and also have our parents fill it out. Basically, it would determine where we each fell on the political "scale" in relation to our parents and in relation to each other.

The next day, we returned to class with our completed surveys and proceeded to line up according to our scores. The teacher started with the most conservative end of the scoring. Lo and behold, "D", the one whom I despised with a passion of 1,000 firey suns, was the first one to stand up. The teacher proceeded down the scoring scale as I remained in my seat. I watched everyone else in the class line up one by one, until finally she got to my score and I took my the very end of the line. She then explained to us what our places in that line meant. Most were in the middle which was normal. The first ones to stand up represented the most politically conservative and the ones who stood up last represented the more politically liberal. "D" and I looked at each other simulatneously from across the room and smiled at each other, both with a sudden, calm realization as to why we'd been at each other's throats for so many years.

That was the last day we ever argued. While I didn't gain any insight into why he believed what he did, I at least understood the source of our rivalry. I haven't spoken with him since we graduated later that year, but I will admit that I sometimes worry he might have actually acheived his goal of becoming a significant political figure. I know I wouldn't be voting for him.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Marianne said...

Great story, Miss Lime, loved it.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Kate A. said...

I've enjoyed all the stories here - thanks to Emma for starting this thread! Miss Lime - my whole high school was nothing but 'D's! When we did surveys like that, it was always me on one side of the room...and everybody else on the other! (My car once got plastered with Bush-Quayle signs, and I had no idea who did it because it could have been *any* of them!)

Of course, I like to equate that with another survey they did in our 10th grade health class, where we ranked what we were looking for in a mate. When the teacher listed the possible characteristics, one girl actually asked aloud (with no self-consciousness), "What's 'intelligence'??" As we arranged ourselves around the room to demonstrate the results of the survey, I stood alone under "intelligence," while almost everyone else congregated under "looks." I've thought ever since that my classmates probably vote the same way, and that that explains a lot.

(Barack Obama for '08, guys - he's cute AND got brains!!)

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Kimmer said...

I was raised by a fairly centrist Democrat mother - who's actually far more liberal than she realizes - and a traditional Goldwater Republican father, both of whom grew up in small towns in Wisconsin; they both still have some of the small-town attitudes about "outsiders" but they've gotten somewhat watered down from living in the San Fernando Valley for 40 years.

I've been a registered Democrat from the moment I was allowed to register. Of course, in my first Presidential election I voted for John Anderson, and after seeing the result I decided to never vote for an independent again, not for President. I've pretty much voted straight Democrat since, except for Tax Board when I vote libertarian 'cause they don't believe in income taxes :)

My bleeding-heart liberalism was a slow awakening, though. I was always left of center, but it's only really been over the past decade or so that I've really become *left* of center. On the political compass - - I'm very much in the liberal-libertarian quadrant. I like to refer to myself as a socialist without the whole redistribution of wealth aspect.

I don't really clash with any of my friends or acquaintances because I make sure to only discuss politics with like-minded or open-minded people; I have no problem with calling my father-in-law a fascist when he supports the idiots currently pulling the strings, though.

I was never really "politically active" until after the 2004 election. Then I got myself on so many "liberal" email lists that I'm sure the FBI, CIA, NSA, and a bunch of other government agencies are spying on my every word - and I'd like to say "hello" to any agents who may be reading this right now :) I have yet to really *do* anything other than send emails and sign petitions, but that day will come eventually, I'm sure. That is, if I can overcome my natural shyness and be willing to knock on doors or make phone calls. I'm more likely to end up stuffing envelopes for someone, but even that counts, right??

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Kate A. said...

Hey Kimmer -

You can always drive people to the polls on election day! I was really active in local political organizing for a few years in high school and college (the Clinton years were so exciting...), even going so far as to overcome my natural shyness to call people and knock on doors. And I came away feeling that the only truly useful thing we ever did was to drive people to the polls who wouldn't otherwise make it. Partly the whole thing felt ineffective because the dems are so under-funded, so ethical, and so disorganized compared to the rich, ruthless Republicans who tend not to consider the means once they've got the end in mind, you know? It's depressing as hell, and I'd follow to the ends of the earth the next Democratic (or effective independent) candidate who can organize the party behind a real, coherent platform and make it work. I think it will require campaign finance reform (not reform - *revolution*) to make that possible, and how likely is that when the people who have to make that happen are themeselves dependent on the cash they're getting now?

It amuses the hell out of me to think of some poor little FBI agent having to read knitting blogs because so many of us damn liberals are chatting away here. Hello, boys! Get yourselves some needles and string, and cast on!


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