Last week, after Barack Obama became the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, I got online and joined Democrats Abroad. I’ve voted democratically all of my life, but I’ve never joined any sort of group. (My brother, on the other hand, was a member of the Young Republicans when we were in college.)
I also started reading a collection of essays put together by Shari MacDonald Strong, the senior editor at Literary Mama (sort of like my boss), called The Maternal is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change. Some of my favorite writers (such as Barbara Kingsolver and Anne Lamott) are represented here, alongside some of my favorite Literary Mama columnists such as Ona Gritz, Susan Ito and Violet Garcia-Mendoza – and Jennifer Graf Groneberg. (I haven’t read her essay yet, as I’m reading in order, but I skipped ahead and read a couple of paragraphs about a deaf girl with cerebral palsy who was homeschooled by her mother after school officials said that she’d never be able to read, but who got herself into nursing school years later).
So anyhow, it’s a wonderful book.
One thing that I’ve learned is that four out of five people vote as their parents did, and a number of these essays concern mothers inculcating their children with their political beliefs. This is all very new and strange for me because growing up, I had no idea how my parents voted. In principle, they kept their voting habits a secret, because in America we elect our officials behind a curtain with complete privacy. It’s our right to vote for whom ever we want, and our right not to tell anyone.
I grew up believing that my parents were Democrats. Imagine my surprise when, several years ago, I found out that I was wrong. By that time, it was too late for me to be influenced by my parents’ political choices. I’d already voted for Mondale and Clinton.
My son, by the way, is a keen Obama supporter. I’m thinking of getting him a T-shirt proclaiming his view.