I’m not exactly sure when I first caught the political bug.
I suspect it may have been when Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976. Being a native of Georgia like Mr. Carter, I felt a sense of pride. I felt something in common with our new president. Yes, at the ripe old age of five, I was hooked by politics.
Since then, I have been fascinated by the political process, politics in general and especially elections. There’s just something about elections that are, well, downright American. I love campaign season. Next to football season, it’s my favorite time.
I’ve always been fascinated by campaigns and candidates. I love seeing signs dot the landscape promoting candidates for this office and that office. As I said, there’s something patriotic about it.
As a child, I remember watching coverage of the national conventions and literally being fascinated by the colorful signs, balloons and multitude of delegates. How great it would be if I were in attendance, I often thought.
Today, I always smile when I see a vehicle sporting a bumper sticker saying “Vote For....” on the back window. To not only support a particular candidate but to display that support for all to see is something I admire. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is the one I will be voting for. It’s just great to see someone else share a love of the political process the way I do.
Placing a campaign sign in one’s yard is another way of taking part in the process. Growing up, my parents always voted, but they never really liked putting signs in their yard. We did place one for a family friend who was running for sheriff one year but my mom insisted it be a small one. During the 1990 governor’s race, I had placed a sign for Roy Barnes in our yard. A family friend later asked said to my mom, “I see you are for Roy Barnes.” My mom quickly set the record straight, “Chris put that out there.”
Once I had a place of my own, campaign signs in the front yard became the norm. From local candidates to statewide hopefuls to those running for the highest elected office in the land, signs are seen by my neighbors and passersby alike. One fall my mom said, “Perhaps your neighbors don’t like you having all those signs in your yard.”
My response: “Well, they can put up their own signs.” Indeed.
My love for politics and campaigning eventually rubbed off on my better half. At one time I don’t think she cared much about the election process. However, she follows it closely now. She watches CNN religiously whenever states are holding their presidential primaries. We both enjoy hearing the musings of the CNN team, particularly Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein. She also enjoys watching Anderson Cooper.
I must admit I am proud of my better half for taking such an interest in the process. Of all my habits for her to pick up, this is certainly a good one. I guess politics is habit forming. As I write this column, we both were getting ready for Tuesday’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
We have many rights that we take for granted as American citizens. I believe taking part in the political process is one of them.
People in other parts of the world would do anything to be able to vote like we do. Even today, we have brave American men and women oversees fighting to help protect this right. They aren’t thought about enough, but I know they are on my mind as I enjoy the 2008 political season.
To some I may just be a political junkie who needs to find something better to do with his time. To me, I feel I am being a patriot by taking part in this very American process.
Chris Bridges is a reporter for The Banks County News. Contact him at 706-367-2745 or e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.