WE HEART THE “SANDBOX ACTIVIST”
Hit the campaign trail with Curt from Minneapolis in this week’s featured story from the First Person Museum Online Gallery! Protest carpet square naps and fingerfuls of paste as you travel with Curt through this hilarious story about a political pin that points to Republican repentance. Learn more about the scarlet letter that adorns his lapel and reminds him of an election gone RED!
Curt, Minneapolis, MN
Theme: Growing Up
Object Type: Stuff I Wear
My first taste of political activism was during the 1984 presidential election, and a taste was all I needed to become addicted. North Dakota’s mere three electoral votes never brought the state much political influence, but I determined not to let that stop me.
I was a staunch Reaganite, and probably broke all sorts of electioneering laws by campaigning on public school grounds. In polling my classmates on which candidate they supported, you may not be shocked to hear that none of them expressed much of an opinion. You should, however, be disappointed, as I was, that not one of them could name a single candidate. This, dear reader, is the future of America! Their undisguised apathy disgusted me.
Worse yet, none even knew that there was an election coming up.
Or… what a president was.
I was in kindergarten.
My parents, both generally progressive-leaning Democrats, swear they don’t know where I got it from. Everyone goes through a rebellious streak, mine apparently just came a decade early. I blame television. I watched a lot of TV as a kid. A LOT. I suspect I might have become enamored of Reagan because he was on TV quite a bit, and also because he somewhat resembled one of my other television heroes at the time, Orville Redenbacher.
In any case, while the other kids in my class were napping on carpet squares and sneaking an occasional fingerful of paste, ruining their appetites for snacktime, I was coloring Yeti-sized Reagan campaign buttons on the cardboard circles you used to get on the bottoms of frozen pizzas.
As I grew older, my interest in politics never ceased, but I did come to notice that as my own awareness of the world and my place in it continued to develop, I realized that the priorities and principles of the objects of my political devotion might not exactly match up with my own. Though not until after the following presidential election, where I turned an Earth Science assignment, a nature-themed shoebox diorama, into an electioneering stunt featuring a green construction paper BUSH and model decoy QUAIL. Insidious, I know.
Today, I’m a full-fledged Minnesotan, and celebrate the long heritage of progressive politics and politicians from my foster home state. I still feel terrible, in a very overblown, Catholic sort of way, that I encouraged — nay, ENDORSED — Reagan’s defeat of a man I now idolize, Mr. Walter Mondale. Truly a man of the people, I have friends who have run into Mr. Mondale on the street, or at the drugstore picking up a prescription. No Secret Service detail, no black stretch limousine, just out and about like anybody else. And now that I live in Minneapolis, Mondale’s home town, I live in constant, paralyzing fear that I will actually run into the man himself on some mundane errand, at the grocery store, or the library. And that our eyes meet across the produce bin, and he sees the guilt and shame floating just below the irises, and unconsciously understand the entire story of our shared past. And punch me out in disgust. Maybe even spit in my face while I’m down, for good measure. I hear he’s got a mean left.
Nevermind the 49 states that went red that election. Nevermind the fact that I was 12 years too young to vote. I practically single-handedly delivered North Dakota to the Reagan column, and thus guaranteed Mondale’s victory. Clearly, North Dakota was the key all along. If only I had known.
To assuage my guilt, and to fend off Mr. Mondale’s harsh, harsh spittle, I turned to a little knick-knack of my parents. An almost-Yeti-sized “I HEART MONDALE” button, which I wear to this day. The button, to the unsuspecting eye, is just another nostalgic political artifact, perhaps worn in wonky hipster irony. Look into MY eyes, however, and you’ll see its true significance: a giant scarlet ‘R’ on my lapel. Reagan. Republican. REPENT.
Check out Curt’s official entry.
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