I did a write up of three generations attending the event at dailyKos. My son actually moved away from us during the event and chose a seat on his own so that he could see John and Elizabeth speak. And he went up to see John 3 separate times, once to shake hands, once to get an autograph, and finally to have his picture taken with John. I was impressed that John was so kind and gave such attention to someone who wasn’t a voter.
In the car on the way home my son raved about John’s policies and life stories. He talked the entire way home not just about how important universal health care was but about how he was going to grow up and be an environmental advisor to our governor. While we had followed our governor’s race closely, he’d always wanted to be a scientist. This was the first time he expressed interest in getting into politics.
He kept trying to get my parents to support John. At that time my Dad was leaning Kucinich and Edwards, and my mother was leaning Richardson and Edwards. That Monday morning he started in on his swimming instructor. “Don’t you know that John Edwards will make it so everyone can go to the doctor? His mother had to close her business so that his father could go to the heart doctor. That’s wrong!” I explained later that teenagers weren’t usually interested in those thing since they’re thinking about college. The next day he was back at her again on John’s stand on NCLB and student loans. He’d looked it up himself on the website.
I talked about other candidate visits in New Hampshire and he wanted no part of it. “I already know I’m voting for John Edwards. I don’t care about anyone else.” I explained it was good to see everyone but he wouldn’t budge. He agreed to see Hillary, “because she was married to the President,” if he had to see someone else. At that time Hillary was doing large events where people waited over an hour in line to get into the venue. Not conducive to kids at all. And not conducive to someone with Asperger’s.
We saw Elizabeth at a house party in one of the towns that attended my regional high school. That was also diaryed at dailyKos. He was anxious to talk to hear about her cancer because his father has been treated for cancer over the past year. He was interested in another parent with cancer. She talked about the issues, not her cancer, so he was kind of bored. What was interesting was that there were many children there. A toddler ran up to Elizabeth while the poor mortified mother scrambled after him. Elizabeth was totally cool with it and insisted that the kids be free to walk around. “I’d never have gone to a political event or seen a movie if I couldn’t bring babies with me.”
He went up to her after the event, on his own, and talked to her about his father’s cancer. And she listened. They actually spoke for quite a while, which shocked me given that actual voters were standing in line waiting. This is a woman who has lived, and continues to live, motherhood.
I was pretty much on board with John at this point, although I occasionally flirted with Chris Dodd. I didn’t take my son up the next time I made the trek when I attended 5 events in one day basically following John around the state. Until recently, the best event I attended was the Carpenter’s Union endorsement in Nashua. This time it was dads bringing their kids with them–from Boston and New Jersey and other locals down the east coast. I diaried that event at dailyKos also.
He was thrown all kinds of questions from voters across the state and he was consistent in every venue. He often prefaced and answer with, “you probably won’t like my answer but I’m not going to lie to you.” Time and again walking out of events I heard “well he’s definitely genuine” and “you can tell he’s for real.” At every event but the last one (later at night) there were kids everywhere. Sometimes they paid attention and sometimes they played on swingsets.
I have never looked back from that moment on. John Edwards was my definitive choice. I took my son up to see Elizabeth in the town next door to my parents’ house. He was annoyed that he couldn’t see her well so he squirmed along the floor to get a front row seat. At the end of the event, when I went over to my mother to see how she had liked it I couldn’t find my son. Well there he was in line to speak with Elizabeth. He told me that he told her she did a good job and he was still voting for her husband. He asked if she remembered him from before and she said that she did and gave him a hug. He pestered my mother mercilessly to declare for John.
He continued to talk to everyone about John Edwards, no matter where we went. For current events at school he brought in stories about John. Often he’d have to resort to press releases because the media wasn’t covering John’s campaign at that time. My mother called after she and my Dad had seen John in our hometown. They were putting the Edwards sign up in the yard. They haven’t had a sign up in a primary in decades. Their grandson was very pleased. He was even more thrilled that his grandmother has been working in the Nashua office for the past two months.
Then he started in on his father. When John was back in New Hampshire 3 weeks ago my husband insisted that we go up to see him, and Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne who were touring with him. Due to snowstorms we were trapped up there for 3 days. My son worked in the campaign office putting together signs and attended the event in Manchester. He lobbied the woman sitting next to him who was leaning Edwards. John was on fire that night. It was his best of all the events I attended. His speech was interrupted with sustained applause multiple times. At one point I noticed my son standing and applauding all on his own, not joining in with others. John was talking about NCLB and the changes he would make. My son approved so he stood and applauded. One of the audience questions John took was from a 12 year old reporter for Scholastic News. At the end, the woman next to us was on board and ready to volunteer for the campaign. John took time to pose with my son after the event. We used the shot as our Christmas card.
My son has lobbied his old babysitters, neighbors and his father’s friends on behalf of John Edwards. He was fine with the 2nd place Iowa finish because he’s learned in school that the important thing is to do your best and that not everyone can come in first.
So here we are the day of the NH primary and one little boy’s enthusiasm for clearly articulated progressive beliefs has snagged 5 voters, 2 of whom have volunteered for the campaign. I don’t know if he gathered more votes at the swimming pool, at school, or from among our Christmas card list. But I know he wants John in the White House desperately. And that he is following this closely enough to actually discuss the issues with other people. He also feels like he knows John and Elizabeth because they have taken the time to pay attention to him.
No matter the outcome, I know that this experience will give him an appreciation of how important the political process is. And he will grow into someone who remains an involved citizen. I know this because this is how my parents raised me. My son is the next generation of progressive democratic politics.
Here are some shots of kids at different events.
Cross posted at Mother Talkers
My son and John in Merrimack
My son in the audience listening carefully to John
Kids in the shade in Mont Vernon at an Elizabeth event
My son and elizabeth
At the Carpenter’s Endorsement
They took the bus from Boston with their Dad
Nashua house party
StathamThe entire first floor of the house was wall to wall people. This is through the window 1 room away from John at people standing in the rain to hear him and a little one off to check the swingset.
On Stage in NashuaTatiana was in a Russian orphanage 3 yrs ago. 12/18 she was on stage behind John Edwards. That’s Jackson Brown’s knee on the left.
My son in Manchester with John
My son with Jane, the woman he canvassed before the event