How Did You Get Interested in Politics?

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I only just turned 30 so I have no direct memory of Nelson Mandela or the end of South African apartheid but its been inspiring seeing all the activists I know who are about 10 years or older than me recounting this on Facebook and Twitter as a seminal, or even foundational, moment in their political lives.

What shaped your interest in politics?

I got interested in politics early in life. I just recalled the other day that in Kindergarten they asked us to draw what we wanted to be as grown-ups and I picked President, but it really started for me when I was about 12 and my political junkie grandmother got me interested in the 1996 Presidential election. She also had a lot of Nation and Mother Jones magazines around the house that I devoured. I did a bit of phone banking in 2000 for Al Gore with my Mom, and got involved in my high school Amnesty Int’l group on anti-globalization stuff. In 2004 I mainly got “involved” by going to Iraq war protests in NYC and studying politics in college.

So I’d have to pick the anti-globalization protests in Seattle or the Iraq War as the foundational political events of my early life, and really it wasn’t until 2006 or 2008 that I developed a more mature understanding that further-left activists need to work within the Democratic Party to change policy. Ned Lamont’s victory over Joe Lieberman and then Barack Obama’s primary campaign convinced me that supporting better Democrats in primaries was an effective way to get better outcomes, and that’s been my MO ever since.

What about you guys? What were the major events of your political education?

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

4 Responses to How Did You Get Interested in Politics?

  1. Tsuyoshi says:

    The Clinton impeachment was mine. My father was the Democratic nominee against one of the House “managers” in 1998. That was the point where I discovered that the educated voter – the one that understands how the government works and follows the news and knows all about all the candidates that they’re voting for – is exceedingly rare. My father and I did a lot of doorbelling that year. He won every precinct he doorbelled, but still lost by over 20 points. And so the lesson I learned was that congressional districts are so big, that as a congressional candidate (which I never intend to be myself), nearly all your time is better spent raising money (to spend on advertising) rather than doing anything else.

  2. Julieann Wozniak says:

    I used to be as apathetic as the next Pennsylvanian, until I got my first taste, as a kid, of what passes for political discourse here in the wilds of Greene County. “Dukes of Hazzard” was a hot property back then, and that’s what we still have: Boss Hogg politics.

    Anyway, Bill DeWeese gave $30K to a grifter named Ken Eller for the sole purpose of reopening the Shannopin mine (which is over the hill from my home). The money disappeared, as did Mr. Eller. The mine never reopened and is still flooded. And my parents and I ended up with a log skidder owned by a sitting county commissioner in our front yard. The insisted we didn’t own our land and proceeded to pepper my other and I, mere women we, with verbal abuse and threats. The apology, when finally received, was made to my father, not the real offended parties. I’m still ticked off. And that’s why I write angry, left-wing screeds to this very day.

    At least Dollar Bill is still in the big house.

  3. Sean Kitchen says:

    When I was a freshman in highschool, I had a chance to see John Kerry speak at Love Park. I didn’t become politically outspoken or an activist until Corbett went after higher ed / when the Occupy movement spurred in 2011.

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