Maybe my biggest issue with being a grown-up is finding myself caring about grown-up type things. For example, since when did I care about the economy? I find myself watching the stock market, even though I don't have any investments; I read the business page of the paper, even though I'm just a pizza guy. The world's problems have become my own. I do grown-up things, read grown-up books, have grown-up conversations (a real grown-up might disagree if they listened my brother and me). My PS2 is gathering dust right now.
And entwined in all of this is some real personal stake in politics. That's nothing new, actually. But my political tastes have evolved considerably since I was a kid.
I remember the presidential election of 1988. Is that normal? It's one of my oldest memories, somehow being aware that George Bush and Michael Dukakis were trying to become president. There's very little I remember prior to this, apart from standing in a wading pool in my backyard, blowing bubbles, and other random things that you probably don't really care about. I remember seeing Michael Dukakis on television in a tank which, since I had little awareness of the electoral process, gave me a really warped view of how one becomes president. I was young and, being a wise four-year-old, didn't choose a side, though I'm pretty sure in some Freudian repressed-fear way, Dukakis in a tank gave me the impression that the Democrats were the aggressors. (Turns out, this is a famous and historical PR blunder.) So in a way, you can blame him for the fact I still vote Republican today.
My parents were (and still are) Republicans. Not upper-crust country-club fundraiser Republicans, but conservative lower-middle-class worked-for-their-money-and-want-to-keep-it Reagan Republicans. When George H.W. Bush got elected, mom and dad were happy, and I was happy.
I remember with more clarity the 1992 election, when George Bush ran against Bill Clinton. I was eight years old and thoroughly aware of Mom and Pop's political bent. I remember asking the Janitor who he voted for, and I remember that George Bush, if nothing else, carried the popular vote at North Godwin elementary school. Clinton won and launched me into eight years of siding with my parents against Clinton's debaucherous crusade of evil.
We had a Dole/Kemp sign in our yard in 1996. I guess it was fitting that our country should be run not by the guy who went on to shill for Viagra, but the guy who had the fortitude to get it on with a 23 year-old intern.
We took a car ride once, and I asked my parents if anyone at our church was a democrat. I guess this was my early litmus test of whether or not Democrats could be good people. Dad gave me a name, and I asked him why that person was a democrat. Dad, ever sarcastic, told me, ever naive, that someone had put a gun to their head. I get it now, that it should be fairly obvious that political alliances are a matter of personal preference, but when you're a kid and you already think Democrats win elections with M-1 Abrams Tanks, this is all the confirmation you need that the GOP are the world's only good-natured freedom-fighters.
I took the conservative point of view in class, too, piping up with my worldview in discussions. I pity any teacher that decides to take on a class of third-graders in a political discussion, because they're all just repping their parent's point of view. I considered myself particularly well-informed, and went to bat for the Right side of things. For the most part, I'm pretty sure I held my own. I was a proud, outspoken conservative all through my elementary, middle school, and high school education. I even joined the college Republicans during my freshman year at WMU, but I didn't attend any of their stuff. I wouldn't have fit in, anyway. Had to join something, I guess. They kept sending me annoying email updates long after I decided they weren't my crowd.
To be continued [mostly because I know I've pretty much reached the limit of as much as I would want to read in one sitting if I were you.]
(Editor's note: This is only part one. Come back later to see if Jim is headed for a gutter-to-the-pew political conversion. Does his cynicism point to a resentment for his political upbringings? No. The answer is no. I'll explain in a few days.)