We are in a very large florist shop in Kew Gardens which serves as a polling place. My mother is behind the green curtain voting while I'm in a baby carriage, crying my head off. This is my earliest mermory. Is that possibble? I'm 20 months old which makes it the off-year election of 1934. Or was it the 1936 election and I was not in a carriage? Or is it 2004 and I'm still crying?
The first Tuesday night in November has generally been an occasion for depression,despair and grief. As the returns come in I'm hearing an accompaniment of funereal music or Bessie Smith singing the Blues.
I have a vivid memory of FDR buttons in 1940 though I didn't know a Blitz from a blintz. By 1944 I stood out in the rain to wave at Roosevelt and his motorcade. I began my political involvement in the 1948 campaign for Henry Wallace. I was scampering around apartment houses with pamphlets one step ahead of the superintendant. We had the best songs but came in fourth. This launched my habit of losing. That was year that Dewey beat Truman in the midnight edition of the Chicago Tribune and lost by the morning edition.
Since then I've voted for Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, McGovern etc... which means I have suffered through Nixon, Reagan and two Bushes besides such local luminaries as Sam Yorty, Daryl Gates, Deukmajian and Schwarzenegger. With each election I feel more misaligned with the body politic and often wonder if that body has a pulse...or a brain.
When I walk into an elevator I'm aware that most of my fellow vertical passengers hold diametrically opposite views about most issues. It's a good thing I haven't experienced a power failure.....yet. If the elevator is in Dallas or Salt Lake City, I'm doomed.
When I was in the eighth grade, in my puckish phase, I led a group of like-minded nasties, in electing Robert H., a kid with learning disabilities, as class president. A cruel joke. The school principal invalidated the election. The crop of Liberbagian candidates this year reminds me of that act of malicious mischief. Where is the principal to yank them off the ballot? Has the American electorate lost their decency? To install a slate of semi-literate, delusional and malevolent fools is a cruel joke on all of us.
I'm preparing myself in an undisclosed bunker. I've got black arm bands at the ready. Dirges are playing. I'm checking the bus schedule for Canada. I'd consider defenestration except I'm in the basement. It's been a hard life rooting for those who would rather be right but been done wrong.
A parting look back at 1934.... was I crying with separation anxiety or (so I’m told) because I had a chronic ear ache? Either case might serve as a apt metaphor. Perhaps I've lived my life separated from the conventional world.... and/or deaf to that misinformed majority. In any case I’m bracing myself for those November blues.