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Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:42 AM

In what year did you become politically "sentient?"

By “politically sentient” I mean cognizant of the fact that politics was a meaningful “thing,” that there were various political parties, that these parties had different agendas, that voting mattered, and that people disagreed, sometimes vehemently, on this topic.

It was 1980, and I was 13, so I couldn’t vote at that age, but I became aware, for the first time, that politics mattered to most of the adults in my life, and they often disagreed. I felt that I had to choose, and I did. As a native Georgian in 1980, it was fairly easy for me to support James Earl Carter, Jr. I didn’t start voting until 1986, but I can proudly say that I have never voted for a Republican in my life. That time—that moment in history—that initial emergence of “political sentience” made all the difference for me as a political person.

I would be curious to hear your own, unique stories. When did you become “politically sentient?” How did that historical moment affect your politics?



-Laelth
36 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
1960 or earlier
4 (11%)
1961-1963
3 (8%)
1964-1968
11 (31%)
1969-1976
7 (19%)
1977-1980
3 (8%)
1981-1992
6 (17%)
1993-2000
0 (0%)
2001-2008
1 (3%)
2009-2016
1 (3%)
2017-Present
0 (0%)
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Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll

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Reply In what year did you become politically "sentient?" (Original post)
Laelth Aug 2020 OP
MineralMan Aug 2020 #1
Laelth Aug 2020 #23
MineralMan Aug 2020 #28
Laelth Aug 2020 #30
Democrat 4 Ever Aug 2020 #47
Sneederbunk Aug 2020 #2
OregonBlue Aug 2020 #3
CaptYossarian Aug 2020 #4
Mike 03 Aug 2020 #5
Laelth Aug 2020 #9
Mike 03 Aug 2020 #11
Laelth Aug 2020 #15
MANative Aug 2020 #6
lostnfound Aug 2020 #42
customerserviceguy Aug 2020 #7
Laelth Aug 2020 #29
customerserviceguy Aug 2020 #45
Trailrider1951 Aug 2020 #8
Laelth Aug 2020 #13
sarcasmo Aug 2020 #10
Happy Hoosier Aug 2020 #12
Luciferous Aug 2020 #14
Blaukraut Aug 2020 #16
JonLP24 Aug 2020 #17
Victor_c3 Aug 2020 #18
Laelth Aug 2020 #22
empedocles Aug 2020 #19
Laelth Aug 2020 #20
WePurrsevere Aug 2020 #21
Dave in VA Aug 2020 #24
Brother Buzz Aug 2020 #25
BraKez2 Aug 2020 #26
Jeebo Aug 2020 #27
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Aug 2020 #31
ironflange Aug 2020 #32
JustABozoOnThisBus Aug 2020 #33
Patterson Aug 2020 #34
Laelth Aug 2020 #37
Patterson Aug 2020 #41
not_the_one Aug 2020 #35
Laelth Aug 2020 #36
Kamala4TheWin Aug 2020 #38
Laelth Aug 2020 #40
nuxvomica Aug 2020 #39
misanthrope Aug 2020 #43
Awsi Dooger Aug 2020 #44
Buckeye_Democrat Aug 2020 #46
myccrider Aug 2020 #48

Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:47 AM

1. It was 1960, when I was just 15 years old.

JFK was running, and I wanted to be part of it. So, I volunteered with the local Democratic Party organization to do whatever they could find for me to do. They found plenty of ways a kid could help.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:32 AM

23. You've got 20 years on me.

I can’t imagine how exciting it must have been to campaign for JFK. He only won by a squeaker, but within 3 years over 70% of Americans (if I recall correctly) said they voted for him.



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #23)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:59 AM

28. It was pretty heady stuff for this kid.

Really. I got to meet a lot of influential people, who encouraged me to continue being politically active. I didn't get to meet JFK, since I was in a very small town, but I did shake hands with Bobby Kennedy when he came through town on a train whistle stop tour. It was a great year, all around, and I ended up growing out of being a shy, insecure kid because of it.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #28)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:04 PM

30. Awesome! Bobby Kennedy is one I would have loved to encounter.

I got to meet Carter and Clinton, and that was sufficient for me. I will never forget President Carter telling me that I had “such pretty girls.” They don’t remember it, but I do.



-Laelth

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:09 PM

47. 1960 I stayed up all night keeping the totals and states as they were called.

Not sure why my parents allowed me to do so. I was 10. Went to school the next day, fifth grade, to brag, celebrate, and be excited. My classmates failed to share my excitement.

I’ve done several presidential elections since then. Was glued to the TV for the Watergate hearings, Iran Contra and way too many to list.

Worked my first election at six years of age. Stood out on a sidewalk trying to buy votes. My grandfather was a bass fisherman and had just caught a whopper. He was running for sheriff of our small town. Told people if they would vote for my granddaddy. I’d let them see the world’s largest fish. In my defense, it looked really big to me and totally worth a vote for a quick look. He won, I was hooked.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:47 AM

2. Although I did not know what sentient meant until much later.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:49 AM

3. My mother, and then my aunt, were head of the Young Democrats in our Oregon community.

Another aunt was Edith Green's ( second woman to be elected to the U.S. House from Oregon 1955-1974) personal secretary. So yes, it was a part of our family education for as long as I can remember.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:51 AM

4. I had a passing interest during the 1968 Convention in my hometown.

But in 1974 when I was also 13, the Watergate hearings were on TV. That got me going.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:55 AM

5. It didn't hit me how multi-faceted and serious this was until the early Clinton years.

Just out of college, I had been a precinct captain on the Dukakis Campaign, but looking back I realize I had no clue what I was doing or how truly serious this all was.

But it's really been an evolution rather than an event. But it was the early to mid 90s when I really began to tune in, watch political television, read books about campaigns and by political strategists. The anti-Clinton conspiracy stuff was something I'd never seen before--it was insane.

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:04 AM

9. It's definitely an evolution.

In 1988, I voted for Jesse Jackson in the primary (who, we sometimes forget, won the Georgia Democratic Primary that year). I worked for the Dukakis campaign, despite his not being my first choice, but that was a really depressing election.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #9)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:08 AM

11. Working on the Dukakis Campaign...

We are graduates of The School of Hard Knocks.

You were smart enough to recognize it was depressing at the time. I didn't realize it was depressing until we lost. (Although making cold calls to "Democrats" who turned out to be Republicans was, actually, depressing now that I think about it, and getting hung up on.)

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #11)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:11 AM

15. Oh, no, Dude. It really sucked.

And I was in Georgia!



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:55 AM

6. Watergate. I was 13 at the time.

Earliest awareness of politics was earlier, probably in the late 60s. My grandfather was the mayor of our small town, so I had a passing understanding of it then, but really got invested during the Watergate hearings.

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Response to MANative (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 09:17 PM

42. Me too. As well as late 60"s evening news.. but especially watergate. Nt

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 10:55 AM

7. My parents

were very excited about the 1960 election, and they even unfolded the sofa bed in the living room to be able to watch returns coming in. At the age of nearly five, I got swept up into it.

Fast forward to 1964, and parts of our school cafeteria were closed to be able to roll in voting machines, and I learned more then.

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:01 PM

29. Wow! That's really a young age to become political.

My family was never “excited” about politics. They were generally agnostic and just wanted to be on the winning team. I envy you your politically-involved upbringing.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #29)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 09:55 PM

45. Part of the excitement

was that JFK was Catholic, and my father was way too young in 1928 to know about Al Smith getting the Democratic nomination, and Mom wasn't even born yet.

It was a pretty big deal for Catholics during the Kennedy Administration to have one of their own as President. That made it even more horrifying for them when he was murdered. I was in parochial school then, and when the announcement about the shooting came over the PA system, I still remember how terribly shocked our first grade nun was.

My folks always impressed on us how important it was to vote when we were able to do so. My Dad was really reluctant about voting for George McGovern, but I talked him into it.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:00 AM

8. 1962

The Cuban missile crisis in October of that year. I kept reading the paper and wondering if I would live to see my 11th birthday in a month. Then, President Kennedy was murdered the following year, and then the year after that, the civil rights marches. What a time to be a kid! I grew up a Democrat, because it seemed to be the right thing to do. The first person I voted for for President was George McGovern.

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Response to Trailrider1951 (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:10 AM

13. Wow. You were young.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a highly traumatic and influential event in our nation’s history.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:08 AM

10. Watching Ollie North lie on TV when I was in the military. Iran Contra

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:08 AM

12. I was in elementary school.

My Dad, who was fairly conservative and had voted for Nixon, wanted me to hear the Watergate hearings. I became aware of what politics were, though not really aware of the details.

I became politically interested in my pre-teens, though like many kids I just followed my parents' politics. I remained "officially" conservative until college, though I had had doubts previously... I began questioning some of my received beliefs. By the time I graduated from college, I dumped conservatism (to my parent's annoyance, but acceptance). That was... about 30 years ago now.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:10 AM

14. Late 80's or early 90's. My grandma was the head of our polling place, which was also located in my

elementary school so even though I was just a kid I had some sense of what was going on. We also used to hold our own elections in class- I remember voting for Clinton I really started paying attention to politics when Bush was elected and I was only 19 then so I've always been interested. If I didn't have so many skeletons in my closet I would probably run for a local office

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:13 AM

16. My family in Germany was very vocal about their SPD support

Voting was always a big tradition and a family affair. On Election Sunday, they all went to cast their votes and gathered at my aunt's house for coffee and cake. We kids were usually allowed to tag along. As we got older, we necessarily became more aware of the reason for the trip to the elementary school (serving as the usual polling station) on a Sunday. My mom educated me very early on about our political parties and why our family were Social Democrats. It pretty much stuck

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:14 AM

17. 9/11 and the Iraq war led to my political awakenings

I wonder where or who I would be today if the Supreme Court didn't steal the election from Al Gore.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:16 AM

18. 2004, I was deployed to Iraq

The realities of war woke me up politically. Unlike many who served in the Middle East, I actually served in a direct combat role and the reality of politics hit me hard. I’ve been feeling with the long term impact of combat ever since and I vowed I’d never allow our nation to send people into harms way for a bullshit cause without a fight from me.

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #18)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:24 AM

22. This is trite, but it's all that I can say.

Thank you for your service, and thank you for fighting the good fight.



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:16 AM

19. 1974 Nixon. Something was seriously criminal realization

[Realize now, that by not pulling out the criminal roots, we set the stage for Dumya and traitortrump].

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Response to empedocles (Reply #19)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:22 AM

20. No doubt.

Trump’s crimes are far worse, and the stage for them had been set by Nixon.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:23 AM

21. My dad was always reading & watching the news and

I was expected to watch and learn from the time I was quite young so from the time I could read well enough to read the newspaper I remember reading about and watching the civil rights and anti-war protests and political debates and discussing/debating them with him (I'd say the late '60s).

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:34 AM

24. 1968

I was a sophomore in high school and a friend gave me her RFK pin. I think she had several, but made you feel special if you would wear it. We all were devastated with his murder. Really woke me up and started really paying attention to politics from that time forward.

Every time I see a photo of Bobby I always wonder what could have been.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:36 AM

25. If taking an anti nuclear position is political, then 1961, Baby

Hole in the Head, Bodega - PG&E wanted to build a nuclear power plant, not on, not near, but IN an active earthquake fault. We prevailed. By all measures, it was the birth anti nuclear movement in the nation.



Followed by Project Everyman. Everyman is the name of a boat built in 1961 in Sausalito by Bay Area peace movement activist (Committee for Non-Violent Action (CNVA)) to sail into Pacific Ocean nuclear test zones to protest nuclear testing. Coast Guard captured the boat just outside the Golden Gate Bridge, but its publicity helped precipitate the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Another victory

https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/206164
(Embedded video - off topic the RR engine 1000 at 5:10 always went past my house, about two miles away, and once caught me in a tunnel - scared the shit out of me!)




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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:37 AM

26. 2008

I was 19, so this was the first Presidential election I could vote in. My family had never been politically active and I honestly didn't know much about politics and didn't care to know up until that point. Barack Obama changed that.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 11:40 AM

27. Some time between 1968 and 1972.

My awareness of political realities -- my political "sentience", if that's what you want to call it -- changed A LOT during those four years. At the time of the 1968 election I was 18, almost 19, and if I could have voted that year, I would have voted for George Corley Wallace, but 18-year-olds did not yet have the vote then, I think it was 1971 when that amendment was ratified.

My parents were big George Wallace supporters. They were good people, both of them. There was not a mean bone in either of their bodies. They and we were just caught up in that cultural gravity well down there in Selma. Yes, my hometown is Selma. I was in the ninth grade in Albert G. Parrish High School in Selma when the Selma-to-Montgomery march happened.

My political "sentience" began to emerge about 1970 or 1971, during college at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), and by the 1972 election, I was a "liberal", or as we call ourselves now, a progressive. I voted for the first time in the 1972 election, and I voted enthusiastically for a very different George.

Like you, I have never voted for a Republicon for president, but I did vote in 1976 for John Danforth for the U.S. Senate. That was the year of Jerry Litton's plane crash here in Missouri, where I have lived since 1971. Litton was a rising star in the Democratic Party and I believe he very likely would have been president by now. But that plane crash snuffed that out (I have always wondered if it really was an accident?) and Missouri Democrats had to come up with a post-primary replacement candidate (the very unpopular former governor Warren Hearnes) and John Danforth was the inevitable winner almost by default.

I hope you find my political reminiscences interesting. I do think your "poll" is meaningless, unless your intention is to hear these kinds of reminiscences.

-- Ron

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:05 PM

31. 1968 at age eleven

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:14 PM

32. 1968, when I was ten

As a Canadian, I got swept up in Trudeaumania, and have been on the liberal side of things ever since. That ain't easy, living in Alberta.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:21 PM

33. I think the "Cuban Missile Crisis" jolted my awareness.

Living on a military base in S.E. U.S., I figured I was within range and maybe at a prime target. Somewhat nervous times.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:35 PM

34. 1956 at age 6.

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Response to Patterson (Reply #34)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:13 PM

37. That's very young--Eisenhower v. Stevenson.

Wonder how that happened. Just a highly political family?



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #37)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:29 PM

41. Not especially. It started with the convention. I was really into baseball (Yankees vs Dodgers)

and music by then. I'm not particularly that smart, but just got interested in things early.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 12:52 PM

35. The Whole World Is Watching! The Whole World Is Watching!

 

1968

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Response to not_the_one (Reply #35)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:10 PM

36. If only LBJ had stayed in that election.

Of course, everyone thought that Bobby Kennedy would win, and that would have been awesome, except ... the unthinkable happened and we got stuck with Tricky Dick.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:19 PM

38. 2000 after Dubya was selected

 

I was 23 and that’s the 2nd election that I had voted in

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Response to Kamala4TheWin (Reply #38)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:24 PM

40. W's selection inspired me to change careers and become a lawyer.

I was 33 at that point.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 03:22 PM

39. 1964 was the first campaign I worked on

I don't recall quite understanding the politics when JFK was assassinated but I worked on RFK's 1964 Senate campaign, literally stuffing envelopes and canvassing with my sisters, and my dad was the county Democratic chairman at the time. I still remember the Kingston Trio song on the 45 we distributed: "Bobby Kennedy / Wait till November Three / That's gonna be a great day!"

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 09:31 PM

43. The summer of the Watergate hearings

was when I started getting a full grasp. MAD Magazine helped fill in the details. I was about to enter fourth grade.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 09:45 PM

44. 1968 as I followed the primaries

 

I was 8 years old. Obviously that was the horrible year. I remember where I was for all of it. My dad and I were eating at the front stools at Huddle House the night of the California primary, as my dad talked to another man about the significance of the outcome. We stayed up to watch RFK's victory. This was in Florida.

Then early the next morning I turned on the television to watch my children's programming and instead saw a man standing atop a white truck bellowing out to a crowd on a megaphone. I listened long enough to realize he was outside the hospital, and giving updates to the somber stunned crowd. I had to wake up my parents and tell them what happened. My dad sprang to his feet and initially screamed at me, thinking I was making a sick joke. I told him no...it's the truth. He dashed out there and started breaking down once he heard the verification for himself.

I remember we had a Humphrey/Muskie bumper sticker on both cars. Gad, it just occurred to me we didn't have to worry about theft or vandalism given a sticker or yard sign. I kind of remember not knowing who would win but media seemed to believe Nixon had the slight edge. My dad kept bemoaning that Humphrey might have pulled it out if the vote had been just days later.

Then we attended the Jets/Colts Super Bowl which was great except for the political floats and stuff at halftime. We didn't want to be reminded.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2020, 09:59 PM

46. We're about the same age, but a few years earlier for me.

Saw reports of "SALT talks" on the news when Carter was President, then asked my parents what it meant.

Was given further explanation about nuclear weapons too, which was when I first truly realized the world was insane.

Edit: The Jim Jones tragedy came out around the same time period, which further confirmed the insanity. Stopped putting so much trust in older people and realized that I was ultimately "on my own" in this world. Lol. Felt like telling my early teachers to blow it out their ass as they continued their happy-happy propaganda which misrepresented reality. Lol.

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Fri Aug 14, 2020, 11:58 AM

48. around 1964

I was 14ish and scenes from the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam war were on the nightly news. My father and I started arguing about the issues. I realized that voting could have an impact on what happened in the world.

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