38 years ago, I was a big Jimmy Carter fan. I was 8, so maybe my adoration of the peanut farmer with the big smile wasn’t based on sound governing or political principles. Certainly, my worldview and personal philosophies have changed quite a bit since then, so that adoration has long since abated. Still, I was very excited that November for the presidential race, and was disappointed that I had to go to bed before they called it. When my Mom greeted me with the newspaper the following morning, she smiled and said, “Don’t gloat.” (She knew a certain boy I liked was a Ford fan and we’d been smack-talking in the days leading up to the election in the way that 8 year olds do.)
And she was right. It’s a bit unseemly to gloat after an election that goes the way you wanted it to. It’s certainly unpleasant to see others do it when the shoe is on the other foot. And it feeds fully into the whole “politics as team sports” mentality which is, in my view, one of the sorriest aspects of our politics these days. In the end, all the “wins” in the world don’t guarantee that those elected will execute their sworn duties faithfully and effectively or govern in a way that benefits their constituency and/or America as a whole more than it benefits them and/or their cronies personally. The GOP had a good night last night. The reptilian/team sport part of my brain is gratified. The rest of me is skeptical.
It’s impossible for me to think of politics — and particularly, election night watch parties and returns — without thinking of my parents. They are the source of my political junkiedom. I know I’ve written of it before, but my Dad was at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 and came home from that only to have to turn around and take my Mom to the hospital to have me. They had me out helping them plant campaign signs as a toddler. Later, in my early teen years, the three of us trekked to Washington D.C., where, in addition to visiting the monument-must-see’s, we also visited with Congressmen Robert Young and Ike Skelton. Ike was my Dad’s law school roommate and generously took me with him when he was called to the floor of the House to cast a vote. He even let me push the button for him (shhhhh…don’t tell. I wish I could remember what the vote was.) In fact, I recently re-posted a picture of Ike and me on the Capitol steps after that visit on the one year anniversary of his passing.
I know my folks were intent on spending last evening plunked in front of the television watching the results roll in. But…you know what they say about those best laid plans…. Dad had a bit of a scare last night. His blood pressure suddenly dropped very low and he passed out while he and Mom were having dinner at home. He’d come to by the time the paramedics arrived, and was feeling well enough before they left the house to remind my Mom to tape his television shows, and to take my sister’s call on his cell phone while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Later, while he was waiting for them to get a room set up, he made sure to request one with a TV so he could watch the election returns. (These things are so very my Dad I can’t help but smile at them all.) He’s stable and they’re simply hanging onto him (last night and possibly tonight) to monitor things and make sure he’s okay. I’m sure he will be, but prayers for him are certainly welcome and appreciated if you’re so inclined.
My politics are quite different from my Dad’s these days, and I imagine the outcomes that pleased me last night are the ones that displeased him, and vice-versa. That’s okay. He’s my Dad and I love him, quirks and all, more than words can say.