I’m often asked what sparked my interest in politics…
It was the fourth day of my freshman year in high school. The year was 1996.
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was in the midst of an all out battle for the White House against incumbent president Bill Clinton. We know today that we was not successful, but on that day his Presidential race was alive and well.
He was making a scheduled stop at my small Christian high school in Dayton Ohio. The Secret Service had arrived in force the day before to take up shop in my science class and got straight to work. By the next morning my locker had been sealed shut with some very official looking tape. It is the one and only time I’ve ever used the excuse, “My homework was sealed in my locker by the Secret Service.” excuse and it actually work. Go figure!
The day of the event came and the first thing I noticed when I stepped foot on school grounds was the crush of national media attention. Satellite trucks from every channel and network imaginable seemed to have take over our parking lot. Once inside the doors we were sent through a security screening before being allowed back to our classrooms. I’m fairly certain we didn’t have any actual classroom activities that day. I could be mistaken. If we did, I clearly wasn’t paying attention.
Then at around mid-morning the event was set to kick-off. It was not open to the public, but there were plenty of people invited. There was a courtyard in the middle of the school typically reserved for the cool kids lunch table, but on this particular day it hosted a Presidential contender on the worlds stage. An announcer blared over the PA system an introduction of the candidate and the crowd roared. I stood there, perched hanging out of a first floor window looking out on the courtyard in awe as a small piece of history played out before my eyes.
I couldn’t tell you anything specific from his speech that day. It was more of a forum of sorts than a traditional speech. I don’t remember what policy or program Senator Dole was pitching, or what attack he may have hurled at the Clinton campaign. Aside from a few noticeable faces in his entourage I don’t remember who else attended that day.
But what I do remember has stuck with me since that day. I remember the pomp and pageantry of a national campaign stop. I remember seeing people in person that you’re only supposed to see on CNN or the nightly news. I remember watching a man who had dedicated his life to public service try to influence and persuade people to cast a vote to help elect him leader of the free world. I remember being in awe of seeing a national election up close, and impressed by the grandeur of it all. That day sparked an interest in politics for me, one that has not waned since.
Since that day I’ve become more convinced with each passing election that it truly matters who governs. The policies and principles of an individual, and a party, matter in how they govern. There is absolute truth, and our faith should guide the decisions we make at home, at church, and in the public arena.
My appreciation and respect for the process has only grown stronger since that day 17 years ago. I admire those who offer themselves for public service, even when I don’t agree with their philosophy. We are fortunate to live in the greatest country on the face of the earth. I pray we don’t take it for granted.
Question: What about you? What sparked your interest in politics? What is your view of our political process?