In 1984 I was in the 5th grade. Most kids thought I was odd for loving politics from such a young age. I started with reading the paper and felt like I knew every issue inside and out.
I did not realize until I was much older that I was a child of a mixed marriage my mother a democrat and my father a republican.
In my 10 year old heart I believed she was so much smarter than George Bush. My efforts at campaigning were wearing my coveted Ferraro button to school, a sign tied to my little red wagon pulling my brother and sister around the corner yelling “Mondale Ferraro,” and the high point of going to the LA county fair to march back and forth with signs outside the democrats booth to get adults to come on down and vote.
That year I even went dressed as Geraldine Ferraro for Halloween. I considered it a campaign activity explaining to all of the polite people who I was dressed as asking for candy.
In Upland California voters loved Ronald Reagan and just did not know what to say to a tenacious liberal ten year old. One man told me he was a republican so he was not going to give me a candy bar. I told him that was fine that I needed to stand by my political principals. It cracked he and his wife up so I got a candy bar anyway.
Everything in my heart told me Mondale Ferraro were going to win. When you have just skirted past the age of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny such thinking is not entirely irrational.
Nothing prepared me for no matter how much you love a campaign the polls are usually right. They lost. It was a terrible disappointment but one that I learned to live through and never made me stop loving campaigns. Few things teach you good sportsmanship like losing on the most epic scale of all: the US Presidency.
When you lose kids your age are NOT kind. It helped hearing from adults in my life that they voted for the person who loses most of the time too. I was hearing about my failure all through Junior High most likely inspiring some republicans running around today.
We have to learn about loss in all areas of our life. I learned about losing an election in 1984. I went right back out in 1988 and became the precinct leader for my neighborhood for Michael Dukakis – lost again. I got to have a moment in the sun when Bill Clinton finally won. On election night 1992 when all of the other young dems were in ecstatic tears over winning the first election they ever worked on, to me it was FINALLY!
We need people ready to volunteer in politics who are not afraid of losing. We need candidates to run who take the risk, bring up the issues, continue the conversation, who may not win.
Let some of your neighbors go on thinking you are wrong. No matter what you do never stop reaching out and showing your convictions. Your courage to get out there hold onto your principles gives others who are disengaged strength.
Politics is a lot nastier today. We get the news today from sources who are not civil because civility does not sell. Our time and energy is wrapped up more in being right than doing right by our communities. Politics is nastier because we don’t know our communities. Conference calls, online meetings, town hall orchestrated productions created by PR firms, are not our communities.
Today is a world where my own daughter would not be safe to roam the neighborhood with an Obama sign tied to her wagon. I grieve for that most of all today as I mourn the loss of Geraldine Ferraro.