Before I begin I will admit that I know I’ve told this story before. I Will Dare is going to be 16 on Sunday which makes it 112 in dog years and I don’t know. . . 873 in Internet years? So you must forgive us in our doddering agedness, we are going to repeat ourselves. Hopefully in a better and more entertaining fashion than before.
So you know I grew up in an apolitical family, right? I did! I had zero idea that politics were a thing until Kari Christ said that thing about us all dying if Ronald Reagan was elected. That was back in 1980. Fast forward a dozen years and the 1992 presidential election lit me up so much that my passion infected my never-voted-in-her-life-before mom, awakening a true Democrat that was buried deep inside her, something she didn’t even know.
Sister #2 and I still laugh about how in the 1992 primaries (we were all living in Wisconsin at the time) my mom voted for Jerry Brown. I was team Clinton from the get go.
Anyway, by the time the election rolled around in November of 1992 Sister #2 and I were living in a shitty apartment not far from Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls. We had a car that worked sporadically and usually a negative checking account balance. It was pretty grim, but we were young enough to not let it bother us too much.
It snowed November 3, 1992. A lot, if my memory serves me. This wasn’t unusual for the midwest in early November, back before climate change ruined everything. Of course that day the car was not running. I don’t recall what ailment it had. What I do remember is that the polling place was a long walk from where I lived and that I begged everyone I knew for a ride. I didn’t know a lot of people in Chippewa Falls, and most of them were Sister #2’s friends, all of whom were still in high school.
So I walked. In the snow. It was only uphill (literally) one way (the way back), but still . . . there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to exercise my right to vote.
After who knows how long I arrived at my polling place, which was either a church or like a senior citizen’s center, I can’t really remember, snow-covered, red-faced, and exuberant. I am sure my giant moon face glowed with excitement and exertion. I was giddy and a little anxious. Here’s a little-known fact: when I get excited or anxious I do not shut the fuck up. At all. Words pour from my mouth, a gushing, endless stream-of-conscious nonsense. It’s as though my very brain has learned how to speak and it says out loud every thought that occurs to it.
When I arrived at my polling place in 1992 I was ready to talk. I was young and stupid and had decided voting would be this big joyous communal thing, almost like a cocktail party but with democracy at stake. The primaries had been kind of a bummer for me, because I’m pretty sure my mom and I were the only ones in the joint aside from the election workers. But on the actual, factual election night there were a bunch of people standing in line to cast their vote.
I can only imagine what the other voters thought of the orange-haired, 6’5″ snow-covered, giant with the unstoppable smile who tried to engage them in conversation. I got a shit-ton of side-eye, but that didn’t stop me. Like I said, I decided this was the place to TALK! We would talk about the candidates, who we were voting for and why. I didn’t really think of it as a debate or a way to sway the voters. To me it would just be an exchange of information.
Since nobody would really engage with me, I launched into a weird monologue about how much I liked Hillary Clinton. How she was so smart and going to make a great first lady. How she was actually going to do something. The people standing in line mostly ignored me. The little old ladies who run polling places did not.
“You can’t campaign at the polls,” one of the old ladies said.
“But I’m just talking about Hillary Clinton,” I said.
“It’s against the law,” she said.
The other voters in line shifted awkwardly and kind of giggled.
“Talking about Hillary Clinton?” I asked.
“No! Campaigning at the polls,” she said.
“But. . . ”
“If you keep talking you have to leave and you can’t vote,” she said. “It’s against the law.”
I shut my yap and happily voted for Hillary’s husband in silence. An apt lesson all these years later. I kept my support of Hillary pretty quiet this year because I didn’t have the energy to deal with the BernieBros, they were relentless.
A lot of my friend were pretty surprised I was with her from the get go and not feeling the Bern. I’m not sure why. I was with her in 08, though I was more than happy to back Barack the minute he won the nomination.
Tonight I will watch Hillary accept the nomination, and just typing those words makes my eyes fill with tears, and if I could I would reach through the time-space continuum and high-five 1992-Jodi and tell her, “you’re right.”