What an unbelievably historic election!!! Throughout the night I thought about my personal political journey, my belief system and values. You could say that my beliefs were literally formed around the kitchen table. I thought about what Barelas Babe
posted a few weeks ago.
Political discussions were common with my family. I remember my mother, my aunt and uncles around the kitchen table at my Auntie Mary’s house drinking coffee and discussing neighbors and the world at large. Sometimes I would sit and listen to their opinions about politics. The discussions were never heated as they all were on the same side of the political fence - Democrat. What’s funny is that as a child I assumed that your political views were passed down or inherited like a name or male pattern baldness. I assumed that if you grew up in a Democratic or Republican household, you were marked for life. So it was with great disbelief when I learned that many of my cousins and aunts and uncles had “strayed” to the other side. What happened?!
As a child, I didn’t know what the difference between a Democrat
was. My mother explained it very simply to me. She said imagine you have a pie and you cut it into several pieces. She said that if you are a Democrat you would take a slice of the pie and then share the rest of the pie with others. She said if you are a Republican you take a piece of the pie and share that piece with others, but keep the rest of the pie for yourself. Wow!
That very simple explanation led me to become part of my first political campaign. I remember in 1980 as a senior in high school, being completely shocked that some old actor by the name of Ronald Reagan
won the presidency. So when I was a junior at UNM in 1984, I decided that there was no way this man could or should be re-elected. I called the Democratic headquarters and said I wanted to help. My cousin joined me and we were on our way to change the world. We canvassed the South Valley and got on the phones and called people. We went to rallies and even dressed up as missiles – part of no nukes events. I ditched class and worked the tables we had in the SUB
that had information about Mondale and Ferraro
and Judy Pratt
– the woman who ran against Pete Domenici
I remember a town hall meeting in the SUB Ballroom where many local Republican candidates came to rally their troops. Anyone was allowed to come in and ask the candidates questions. Representative Manuel Lujan Jr.
was there and I asked him why he voted against the Superfund Bill
. He said, “No I didn’t.” I remember being stunned that he lied. I remember the College Republicans laughing at me and yelling “Get out.” I turned back to Manuel Lujan and said, “Sir, it’s in the Congressional Record
that you voted against the bill.” He laughed me off and made a remark that I didn’t hear. It must have been funny because everyone started laughing at me again. I felt humiliated and left.
As I continued to work that year for the Democratic Party, I saw the other side of politics – the less ideological side, the gritty side, the ugly side. I learned that politicians, of all political persuasions, stretch the truth. I learned that not all Republicans keep the large part of the pie for themselves and that not all Democrats share the pie. My days of working on political campaigns died that year. In the elections that followed, I voted, but quit volunteering. I listened to candidates and studied the issues, but wouldn’t canvass. I put up yard signs, but refused to make phone calls to get out the vote.
Then something happened that made me change my mind about volunteering. George W. Bush
won. The political climate cycled back to the memories of my college days. I had to make a decision – what could I do as a citizen to make a difference? What could I do that would not involve having people yell or hang up on me on the phone? What could I do that wouldn’t have people slam their door in my face while I asked for a political contribution?
I decided to become a voter registrar. This allowed me to volunteer to the entire community, not just to a segment of the community. This allowed me the opportunity to give a voice to people who never thought they had a voice. This gave me the opportunity to make people become aware of their rights as a citizen voter.
I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote became informed on the issues. I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote felt they made the right choice for the candidate that spoke to their values. I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote will sit around their kitchen tables and simply talk about the world around them. And to all the little kids around that kitchen table, listen up. Your future political views may be formed while you’re not paying attention.
This post is dedicated to those volunteers who gave so much time, effort, love, and hard work to this historic campaign.