Since I turned 18, I doubt I’ve ever missed a vote. Certainly, though, I never missed a presidential election. In 1968, at age 24, for instance, already swept away by the anti-Vietnam War movement, I voted for antiwar Democrat Eugene McCarthy in the New York primary. Even though McCarthy would win the popular vote nationally in the Democratic primaries, he lost the nomination, in a distinctly controversial fashion, at the Democratic convention to former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, hardly an antiwar sort of guy.
Still, in the election to come, I voted for him, only to see Republican Richard Nixon (of the notorious “Southern strategy” and later Watergate infamy) beat him nationally, become president, and later expand that American war in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. (Note that Alabama segregationist governor George Wallace won more than 5% of New York State’s vote that year, a reminder with Nixon that there has long been a Trumpian quality to American politics.) And then, four years later, I would vote for George McGovern, again to end that war, only to watch Nixon win for the second time in a landslide (even in New York!). Sigh.
Still, to this day, I do go out and vote, although, on my way to the polls, I sometimes have to ask my wife whom I should vote for farther down the ticket. So, in my modest, haphazard fashion, I’ve participated in American politics, but never, like TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon, just back from the front lines of the recent midterm elections, in actual campaign work.
[See Rebecca Gordon's current article: Living for Politics—Or "Just Living"?]
Not since, as a child on Halloween, I took a donation container door to door in my apartment building for UNICEF, have I ever, as Gordon describes so vividly today, tried to directly convince anyone to do anything political in a campaign of any sort. (And given the recent midterms, as you’ll see when you read her piece today, thank heavens she, and so many other political activists like her, did so in a big-time way!) She has what she calls a “political vocation” and, given our present American world, the 2022 election season, and the 2024 version to come, thank goodness she, like so many others, does.
Still, I wouldn’t claim that I had no political vocation whatsoever. In my own fashion, here at TomDispatch, I’ve labored week after week, month after month, trying to put crucial information about how our world actually works and who is (and isn’t) responsible for that in front of anyone willing to read such pieces.
And that, in its own fashion, has, I suppose, been my vocation, my version, you might say, of going out on the campaign trail — though what the reader does with anything I publish at this website is, of course, up to him or her. Now, if you want to think a little about what your own vocation in life might be, political or otherwise, check out Gordon.