Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Nights

I have been celebrating Election Nights since November of 1960 when Kennedy beat Nixon.For a political junkie Presidential Election Nights are our "Super Bowl." I can remember every election night since 1960 and where I was and how I celebrated it. I always have a map of the United States with the states outlined with a black Magic Marker and the electoral votes for each marked on each state with the Magic Marker. I try and set up at least two or more TVs so I can monitor more than one news network and as each state is called I have stickers that I put on the state a candidate has won. For example an American Flag for Reagan and a peace symbol for Carter. I set up spot lights on the map and there is always plenty of food. I invite people over but only folks who are interested in following the returns. This is not a party for small talk.

In 1960 I set up a small portable table with a map of the U.S. on it. Then as the states were called for Nixon or Kennedy I put a piece from a kids game on the state representing Nixon or Kennedy. My folks were out that night and I was with my younger sister and Uncle Herman. I remember wanting to stay up all night to see how California would fall. My parents finally made me go to bed which was fortunate as California was not finally called until a few days later. Nixon took it! For days, and til this day, I knew Kennedy and Johnson "stole" the election in Texas and Chicago where ballot boxes were stuffed and dead people voted. Somethings never change.

In 1964 we had a big party with lots of Young Republicans in the unfinished basement of my parents' new home. It was a sad night to see Goldwater beat by LBJ. However, the "sloppy Joes" my mother made for the group were big hit.

In 1968 I was a student at the University of Oregon and we had a big party at my apartment on 18th street across from the campus. My TV broke just the day before and I had to borrow a small TV for the party. Of all my election nights this was the most tense. The election finally came down to Missouri. About 2 AM every one had gone home but my roommate and Randy Gregg. I moved the TV into our bedroom and Randy set up a chair between our two beds and sat there all night as my roommate slept and I dozed off. Finally, about 8 in the morning Missouri fell for Nixon and he beat Humphrey. This was the first time I could celebrate a win on election night (I was too young for Ike) however delayed it was. I remember my Dad calling from Coos Bay/ North Bend that morning so we could discuss the Republican victory.

In 1972 I was back from the Army at the University of Oregon School of Law and had a party at my apartment behind Hawyard Field on 19th. I was disgusted with Nixon and had voted Libertarian because Nixon refused to give any details about the "Watergate Break-in." However, I did enjoy the defeat of McGovern much to the annoyance of some of those who attended the party. I had a late afternoon class and had to run back to my apartment to watch the first returns. The election was not even close and the party ended very early.

In 1976 I was newly married and we had a small party at our new home in Medford. My brother-in-law and a former co-worker attended. Jerry Ford came very close but could not overcome Watergate and Vietnam. Jimmy Carter, a Southerner, had cut into our base in the South and won. Inflation, recession and The Iran Hostage crisis would follow.

In 1980, we had moved to another house in Medford. Ronald Reagan in a surprise beat Jimmy Carter. That night I wanted to call all of the folks who had in a condescending way told me Reagan was a "light weight" I still have a picture with me in front of my U.S. map over the fireplace giving a "V" for "Victory" sign. I remember the Friday before watching "Washington Week in Review" on PBS at my sister's home in Portland (before Fox News folks)and almost the entire panel predicting that Carter would win.This is my favorite election night..... I loved Ronald Reagan and miss him

In 1984 we had a party which was the first for our two children. Reagan beat Mondale for a second term.

In 1988 we had moved into our present home and had a party in the TV room that yesterday I decorated for this Tuesday night. VP George H.W.Bush won beating Dukakis.

In 1992 we were invited over to a friend's house. I had to work late and joined the family there just in time to see Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush. Most of the people at the party supported Clinton. I will never go to a party like that again!

In 1996 we were back at our house in the TV room and watched Clinton beat Bob Dole. We had some friends over who were and are regulars to our Super Bowl parties. Bob Dole & Jack Kemp both deserved a better fate.I really like Jack Kemp and wish Reagan had picked him as his VP choice in 1980.

In 2000 we had the party that would never end. The TV networks called Florida for Gore and I knew it was over for George W Bush. Then they backed off and called it for Bush. It was like redemption! The networks then declared Bush the winner and we celebrated. Gore conceded and then pulled back the concession and ..... you know the rest. The party ended early in the morning with no resolution. When the Supreme Court gave Bush the election weeks later we called all the people who had been at the party and invited them to an Inauguration Party and had a big Inauguration party on January 20th, 2001.

In 2004 we had a small party in our living room. Our son had gone to Michigan to work for the Bush campaign and called us from Michigan and told us he had been alerted to go to Detroit because of reported voter fraud. Our daughter called us from upstate New York where she was working for a Republican Congressional candidate. It came down to Missouri again, and the TV Networks did not want to call it for Bush. Finally they gave in and Bush beat Kerry for a second term.

In 2008..... well the map of the United States is up in the TV room; but, we don't know what will happen ..... history shows nothing stays the same and regardless who wins or loses there will be other election nights of victory and defeat. Regardless we are prepared for whatever happens. Pizza and turkey hot dogs are on the menu. I love it!