Sunday, November 2, 2008


"This is essentially a people's contest... whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men - to lift artificial weights from all shoulders - to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all - to afford all, an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life."

*** Abraham Lincoln

HANK: Do you remember the first time you voted for president? I--don't.

In 1972, the first year I was old enough to vote, I lived in Washington, DC. I had left my job at the US Senate and was working for Rolling Stone Magazine. I tell you, I must have voted. I love voting, and would not have missed it. (Not that it would have mattered in the final vote count...) But try as I might, I don't remember doing it. Was I too young to know how important it was?

In 1976? I was in Atlanta. Working as a reporter. Again, trying to reconstruct the actual moment of voting. (Again, not that it would have mattered in the final vote count.) I did vote. But I can't remember pulling a lever or punching a card or anything. Was I too busy to know how important it was?

I remember 1980, still in Georgia, because I was making a statement with my vote, and maybe that wasn't a good idea. So I remember that vote, because I still feel somewhat guilty. Not that it would have mattered in the final vote count.

I definitely remember 1984. I definitely remember going into the voting booth in Massachusetts (not that it would have mattered in the final vote count) and wishing I could somehow emphasize that I was voting for Geraldine Ferraro, a woman. I had tears in my eyes. I do remember that.

And this election, I bet I'll remember. I have pals who are bringing their children into the voting booth with them so they can plant a memory for them. Whoever you plan to vote for--please, go do it. And urge your kids to do it. And urge them to remember. And you know, you vote WILL matter.

DO you remember your first time?

HALLIE: I must have been in NY, and the vote I cast must have been for Eugene McCarthy (I still have a button and a scarf). I remember getting out the vote in Harlem, and how forlorn and sad the headquarters looked as it was clear early on that it would be a rout.

Oh, to live somewhere like Ohio where the result isn't such a foregone conclusion.

ROBERTA: I definitely remember voting in 1972 for the first time. What can I say? I was young and still heavily influenced by my father, who was a lifelong Republican. So that first vote went for Richard Nixon...groan...And worse than that, I went to his inauguration on a bus sponsored by the Young Republicans. We froze our keisters off standing in downtown Washington to watch the parade. Joe Garagiola came along and interviewed me and a pal--I very much doubt I had anything interesting to say!

This current election is stressing me out like crazy. Crazy enough that I'm making calls for my candidate. Yes, those calls I hate to get myself--I'm dialing, I'm dialing! One thing you can say for the Obama machine, their web campaign is incredible. If you need a laugh, feel free to check out my "yak for Barack"--it's a pitiful little rap created in response to one of the campaign's many emails. Let's just say I won't be invited onto Saturday Night Live any time soon.

RO: ACK! I love it! Jungle Red has its own Amy just have to work on your hand moves a little. Did anyone see McCain on SNL this past weekend? I gotta say, he was a good sport. And even the scary Cindy, doing her QVC wrist moves..pretty funny. But it's not making me change my vote.

I don't remember who I voted for first, but I'm pretty sure Bill Clinton is the first presidential candidate I voted for who actually won. (I remember having a McCarthy daisy sticker on my bedroom wall, but I don't think I was able to vote that year.) Like McCain and Obama I have "crossed party lines", but only once and it was a while ago.

I really can't wait for Tuesday. For an election party 4 years ago I made cookies in the shapes of all 50 states (I really do have cookie cutters in the shapes of all the states)and decorated them with red and blue icing. Maybe this year I'll make 44 blue and 6 red.

JAN: I don't remember the first time I voted, but I do know that I've yet to vote for a president that has won. I'm an Independent, a centrist, who reads and listens to both the right and the left. (and I don't think Democrats are any more noble than Republicans. I think any politician you vote for is an incredible leap of faith.)

But as I've been agonizing with my decision --I have read extensively and listened to about every expert on this financial collapse. (I'm obsessed, really) It occurred to me, it doesn't really matter who I vote for -- thanks to the electoral college and the fact that Massachusetts is overwhelmingly Democrat.

But I'll still go vote on Tuesday. As Hank says, it's my civic duty. And even if my vote for president doesn't matter, at least I get a say in the state referendum.

HANK: Yes, Jan, the marijuana question. And no state income tax. (Another blog for another time.) Roberta, you rock! And yes, I saw The McCains, and I thought they were terrific. Shades of Tina Fey, I kept wondering who was playing John McCain, since I was surprised he seemed so at ease.

So, Jungle Red voters--do you remember your first time?


  1. Oh, yes--Cambridge, 1972, when I most definitely did NOT vote for Richard Nixon, despite generations of Republican relatives.

    1984--wasn't that the year Bradley didn't win the California governor's race? I lived in California then, and I voted in a basement in a residential neighborhood.

    In Pennsylvania, I was a member of the town political committee, which was an elected position (not that there was a whole lot of competition!). I even had a set of donkey and elephant cookie cutters to lure voters into Town Hall to vote.

    I took my young daughter into the voting booth that year so she could see my name on the ballot, right along with Bill Clinton's.

    Yup, in Massachusetts it's not going to make a lot of difference--but as Hank said, it's a duty. And a privilege.


    Come back tomorrow...where we're back to the mystery world... with a special guest! And a special contest...

  3. This "be careful what you wish for comes from a friend in Ohio--she says:

    On your website you mention living in a state where election results aren't a foregone conclusion. It's not easy being here either. We're bombarded day and night with phone call after phone call begging us to vote for a particular candidate or telling us how terrible the other guy is. I personally have answered recorded calls from both of the Obamas, Sarah Palin and John McCain.
    And that's just on the national level! State and local politicians call us as
    well. Some to promote the presidential candidates, some to promote themselves.

    We haven't seen a good old Wal-Mart commercial in months, and are actually looking forward to watching them again. When we turn off the TV we feel like we need to wash our faces and hands to rid ourselves of the dirt that's being
    slung into our living rooms.

    If I believed everything I've heard, I would have no faith in the human race. It seems there is no good person left on the face of the earth. I was out this morning listening to the radio as I drove to the grocery and the station
    announced that there would actually be one commercial within the following three hours that wasn't a political ad.

    Here in Ohio, most people are so worn down from the constant barrage of ads that they just want for it all to be over.

    There has to be a better, less expensive, and less offensive way to elect our leader. Whoever comes up with it gets my vote!

  4. My memory for anything political is short (which might be a blessing) but I do recall my first time. George Bush Sr. was running for President and was campaigning in York, PA. I was attending college in nearby LAncaster and my then-boyfriend, a young Republican, was dying to meet the Presidential hopeful. So I trudged along to the rally and actually got excited by shaking the man's hand. I think I was really dazzled the all the secret service men. Even then, my twisted mind was wondering if York would make a good setting for a potential assassination.

    I've also met Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter while babysitting three kids at a ski resort. I have their autographs in crayon on the eatery's kids menu. I'm such a high-brow dame!

    Fun post! I think this is gonna be one hell of a wild ride tomorrow!

  5. Um, P.S. - I was actually curious to see if y'all were spilling about your "other" first time. Maybe that'll be next week's blog post. :)

  6. LOL. I'm with Jennifer on the "other" first time. I do remember that I was old enough to vote in '76, but I'm with Hank on the first few. Actually I'm lucky if I can remember lunch. Yes, I think tomorrow is going to be a ride and a half.

  7. Well, MS Stanley--here's an invitation for you. t YOu come guest blog here with your JRW sisters, and that can be your topic.

    We'd probably have our highest numbers yet...hmmmmm/

    (Okay, you can talk about whatever you want. But I like your idea.)

  8. Oh, Mare, I"m with you on the lunch thing!
    But you know, I really did try to remember the voting. And the images were just---gone. It's so disconcertingly strange, to know there was something that happened, to have been a part of it, and then--all vestiges of it have just disappeared.

    Maybe that's a blog for another day.

  9. I do remember my first time voting. My mother worked for the county attorney. She did the secretarial work for his private practice, which he still kept up to some extent. I registered as a Democrat so that I could vote for him in the primary.

  10. Hey Rhonda! Great to see you..what a fun memory.

    Come back tomorrow, everyone!

    Okay, first, go vote. and then:

    One of your very favorite authors will be here--and she's giving away free books!

  11. My first presidential vote was in 1976 by absentee ballot, while I was in college. I don't remember actually filling out the ballot and mailing it back, though I know I did. I do remember my American history professor coming to class the next morning and saying, "I am so thankful my period of American history ends with Reconstruction, so I will never have to explain the Election of 1976." I think I know how he voted.

    Tomorrow I'm sort of voting twice. My son at Stonehill College didn't get his absentee ballot in time to mail it in, so I'm picking it up and hand-delivering it to the town clerk's office--on my way to the polls.

    Like your friend from Ohio, Hallie, I don't like the barrage of phone calls and mud-slinging ads in the final days of the campaign, but like you, I do wish I felt more like my vote for president made a difference.

    I did vote in a local primary race once for a candidate who won by a single vote. That's a vote I will always remember, and why I keep going to the polls.


  12. Giving earlier comment on a "friend from Ohio" is Jane Biddinger whom I met at the wonderful Mad Anthony Writing Conference in Hamilton, OH.

    Our favorite, Lee Lofland will be giving their keynote at the 2009 conference, 4/17-18 and my personal favorite editor Jane Friedman from Writers Digest Books will be there, too. It's a stellar conference.