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?