It's an exciting week here in my house! That's because it's the Democratic National Convention! Where for one week you can be proud you are a Democrat! Yes, that one week when you can believe that anything is possible-people will get health care jobs, all thanks to the democrats. Ah, good times! Plus the media can make any small thing right now in a big story. Look at that airplane! It's carrying Joe Biden! It's going to Illinois! Let's keep rolling on it for twenty minutes! War? What war?
I've always been interested in politics-my mom was a Political Science major so when I was a kid she always had the news on and would debate the people on TV. She and my grandfather were Democrats through and through. My grandfather voted Republican three times in his life-twice for Eisenhower (he didn't like it Adlai Stevenson was divorced) and George Bush 41 (he didn't approve of Bill Clinton cheating on Hillary). Dad has always voted Democratic-with Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter (twice) Walter Mondale, Michael Dukkakis, Bill Clinton (twice) Al Gore, and John Kerry. He voted for Dennis Kusinich for the primary, my mother voted for Edwards (which she is so regretting now). Me? Democrat all the way, except for voting against my democratic congressperson when she voted for the war in the primary.
When I was twenty is when I was last excited about an election. I was twenty, and it was the first presidential election I was going to vote in. At first I wanted Jerry Brown to be nominated because he's a California guy, and schools were actually half-way decent when he was governor. Truly, it was because I had mixed feelings about Bill Clinton. He seemed so slick, too polished. However, it looked like he was going to win the nomination.
Enter Ross Perot. Remember Ross Perot? It's sad I'm missing Ross, but I am. At least he knew how to spin a yarn and tell people that just give him four years, he'll turn the country around. He got his people out of Iran, he ran a company, he had Charlton Heston play him in a movie, for crying aloud!
My mother decided to go work for Perot. She couldn't stand President Bush 41 or Clinton. Although I did like Ross Perot I wasn't sold on him. Anne Lamott nailed it when she called him a Daddy Warbucks, trying to fix everything with money when it wasn't that simple. She also told a funny story about Perot supporters: One time she was at Safeway and one of them recognized her. "Annie, come join us!" He pleaded. Um, no thanks, she said. "No, you have to come join us!" She kept on saying no, and then she said "The Perotians are a cult." My mother told this story at a Perot picnic, and everyone howled.
Me, I was coming around on Clinton because I read a story about how he bought a house for Hillary. A house! Okay, it was in Arkansas, but a house! Plus he said that if there was a fire, he would grab Colors of the Day by Judy Collins. In addition, he named his daughter after a Joni Mitchell song. Joni Mitchell!
Mom started to get signatures for to get Perot on the ballot. This meant standing in front of Safeway having a big Perot for President sign. People would come to her and ask Perot who? Or "Isn't he the guy that Dana Carvey plays?" Well, one of them!
One time Mom needed more signatures and asked me if I had any ideas. I suggested my community college. I was done with classes that semester, so Meranda, her then boyfriend and I went to school and set up a table. "Why are we doing this again?" Meranda asked.
"It's a favor to my mother."
"Okay, but what's this guy like again?"
"He's from Texas and he's better than Bush."
Meranda thought for a minute. "Well, that's something."
We sat there for two hours and got seventy-five signatures. We decided on a low-key approach, have people come to us instead of yelling, "Get Perot on the ballot! Perot for president!" We set up shop right near the bookstore/admissions office. People who would get mad that their books weren't bought back or they couldn't get in a class they needed grabbed the pen and signed the petition. It was so funny because Meranda and I did not look like the typical Perotian supporters. We were decked out in our hippie clothes and Birkenstocks, her wearing tye-dye and me wearing one of my Guatemalan dresses. We looked like we could hang out in Berkeley and sing protest songs, not people trying to get Ross Perot on the ballot.
One man was gay and signed it, saying he just came out to his daughter and he was amazed she was okay with him being gay. "I just can't trust Clinton on some things. He just doesn't seem genuine."
Another gentleman signed it and took a deep breath. "You have to understand, I worked for President Bush in 1988," he said. "Just signing that was big for me."
I think we got one person who wanted to debate us on the issues and we shouldn't be here on campus trying to get signatures. Before I could respond to the person, Bush 88 Guy defended us. "They have every right to be here. What are we supposed to do, keep on choosing two parties that don't give a damn about us?"
The thing was people wanted to talk about politics. Nothing new, this was the Bay Area. However people wanted to talk about how disappointed they were in the system. Everything felt broken-it was right after the LA riots and everyone felt shaky. It also didn't help matters fees were raised on credits-well nothing has changed in that regard.
Meranda and I packed up and I gave the petitions to Mom. She turned them in and we got him on the ballot, and suddenly it felt like people were hearing from the underdog, the little guy.
The week of the Democratic convention, Ross Perot dropped out. I still wonder if he heard from Texas a woman from Pleasant Hill, California yelling "You munchkin! You big eared munchkin!"
He dropped back in, but he lost me. I was glad I got him in the ballot, for I believe that everyone should have a chance to run for president. Be it Lyndon LaRouche (who was also running in 1992 from prison) George W. Bush, Cynthia McKinney, Barack Obama, even old Ralph Nader. However, I'll never forget the look on people's faces when he dropped out that first time. People felt defeated, angry, yet another politician let them down. That's why I don't dare at times get too excited about this election. I can't bear to have another politician let me down.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries