My adult voting record is pretty thin before the 2000 presidential election, and some might argue that, because I voted for Nader in that election, my voting record is sparse up until after the 2000 election. But back in 1984, I voted in the Arthur H. Smith School presidential election. Our balloting system was a program on the Commodore 64 in Miss Carlson’s second grade classroom. The entire school voted on that single machine. There were no paper backups, and if someone had hit “Break” (… or the Commodore equivalent. I may be remembering our Tandy computer.) and then restarted the program, all the previous votes would have been lost and no one would have known. I voted for Mondale. But Reagan won — both in the elementary school election and the adult election.
I was eight years old, but I had strong opinions about that election, or anyway I had strong feelings about it. Earlier in the campaign season I overheard my sister, Karen, talking to her boyfriend, Cory, on the phone. She turned to our brother, Chris, and told him, “Cory just said that anyone who thinks Mondale should win is an idiot.” I butted in, “Tell Cory that I think he’s an idiot.” She laughed and repeated my comment to Cory. There was less gravity in her voice than I thought was warranted. Cory’s words were taken as sparring political debate, and mine were just funny.
I followed the 1988 campaign starting with the primaries. I had two sets of caricatures of the candidates in both parties’ primaries that I’d ripped out of news magazines. As candidates drop out of the race, I cut their caricatures out of the pictures, until only Bush and Dukakis were left. (I don’t remember how I handled Gary Hart, who dropped out, re-entered, and then dropped out again.)
On the night of the November ’88 election, I watched the TV coverage up until I left to go to a Boy Scout meeting. Dukakis wasn’t far behind Bush in the popular vote, but he’d only picked up Massachusetts in the Electoral College count. I tried to express how wrong this seemed to me to some of the other scouts, but no one was sympathetic.
My brother, Justin, has me wandering around the kitchen, repeating, “There’s no place like home,” over and over on the morning after the 1988 election.