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Sunday: May 11, 2008

My Earliest Political Memory

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:01 PM UTC

Being faced with unappetizing choices in a presidential election is nothing new. When I was seven and a half, my parents thought they were morally obligated to vote, but had great difficulty deciding which of the two major-party candidates was the lesser of two evils. (I don’t believe they considered for a moment voting third party.) They had disliked and distrusted Richard Nixon since they had first heard of him many years before, and had disliked and distrusted the entire Kennedy family since they had first heard of any of them, which must have been even longer. Eventually they flipped a coin and one voted for each. Their votes did not cancel each other out, since my father was in the Navy and they had kept their official residences in their home states, as military voters were (and I think still are) allowed to do. As it turned out, his vote, in Rhode Island, made far less difference than hers, in Illinois. When I asked them ten or so years later, they couldn’t recall who had voted for which candidate, so I don’t know whether my mother’s vote helped to widen or to narrow Kennedy’s slim margin in one of his closest states.

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