Voting Like It’s 1984
No, I don’t mean the book by George Orwell. I mean the election of 1984.
First of all, I want to say how relieved I am by the apparent outcome of the midterms. Do I wish Democrats had gained more seats in the Senate? Yes, I do, and I certainly hope they hold onto their slim lead. Do I hope that the yet-to-be-decided Congressional races will leave Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House? Yes, again, but it is clear at this point that even if Republicans take control, they won’t have a big majority.
The good news from my perspective: negligible violence at the polls and a lot of Trump’s endorsed candidates lost. And lots of good things where I live—the first out lesbian elected governor and we passed an amendment raising taxes on the wealthy and protected a newly passed law that allows immigrants without legal documentation to apply for driver’s licenses.
But I keep thinking of 1984 because leading up the midterms I heard so many interviews on various podcasts with election deniers who said things like Biden’s rallies were smaller! Who would vote for him? I don’t know anyone who voted for him. etc.
In 1984 I went to a Mondale-Ferraro rally in Boston Common. Walter Mondale was a Minnesotan who had been President Jimmy Carter’s vice president, and after he won the Democratic nomination, he took the bold step of choosing a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, a member of Congress from New York City and a Roman Catholic, as his vice-presidential running mate. Five years after the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment to win the needed states for ratification, a lot of women, myself included, were excited by the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. I remember that day as a perfect autumn day in Boston—sunny and mild, the trees in the Common splendid with color. The rally was inspiring and I went home certain that we were about to have our first woman as vice-president.
For those of you too young to know, or too old to remember: Ronald Reagan won that election in what may have been the biggest landslide in U.S. history. Only Minnesota, Mondale’s home state, cast its electoral votes for the Democrats.
Even Massachusetts voted for Reagan, but as the map at the top of this post shows, where I was, in Boston Common, was the center of a deep blue area. No wonder I thought we would win!
But I think of that election today for another reason, as well. Few women, or at least not enough, across the country were motivated by Ferraro’s gender to vote the Democratic ticket that year. But this year, apparently, enough women have been concerned about reproductive rights as well as other civil rights to stop the predicted red wave from engulfing us.
For that I am grateful.