Prior to having children, I was quite interested in politics. In fact, some of my college friends would've pegged me to run for some small office at some point - and occasionally I entertain the notion of figuring out how to run a successful school board campaign simply because I care quite deeply about the education of children. But I don't care deeply enough to bankrupt my family in the process, so probably it will never happen.
I also used to be quite informed about politics, and I cared deeply. Largely stemming from an intense 5.5 years in college debate - 3.5 as a debater followed by two years of coaching - I knew what was happening in the world of politics. I can still defend every time I've voted for Ralph Nader (seriously, Bill Clinton, if you would've just allowed gay marriage instead of punting it to the states, I might not have started down this path - and I cannot even believe that you are only now announcing to Anderson Cooper on CNN that you believe gay people ought to be able to marry) and I will not apologize, even though it causes a lot of hard feelings among close friends. In my lifetime, I have gone from telling a friend our teacher would think we were dumb if our fable allowed Mondale to beat Reagan (because, geez, Lisa - Reagan is A.W.E.S.O.M.E, your hippie parents don't know anything) to realizing that there is no nationally viable candidate that will ever really represent me. Sure, I like Obama, and I'm still thrilled he won for lots of reasons, but I consider him to be solidly to the right of where I stand on most issues; most people are.
And while I can still hold my own in any conversation involving tax policy for low-income families (a product of my work), or why I believe in a safety net, or why I believe people ought to marry who they want, or why I believe we ought to think peacefully and act that way, or a number of other liberal causes the pique my interest regularly - I am sadly uninformed about local politics. It's to the point of being embarrassing when my neighbor, who is the democratic coordinator for our area, walks over to say hello. As I see her approach, I rack my brain for ways to steer the conversation away from politics so I don't have to admit how little I know.
There were times when I didn't get why my mom wasn't really into politics - THIS IS LIFE, MOM! And why my dad clings to an arcane belief system - LOOK AROUND YOU - that he will staunchly defend, but never to my satisfaction. But now I totally get it. You see, for better or worse, I have largely dropped out of politics. The practicalities of my life get in the way. Connor needs to point out the two enormous squirrel nests in the tree next door that have been revealed by falling leaves in the past few days, Helen asks "can you read me jus' one book" and says "hold me mommy" and really, it takes a heart of stone to resist these requests - especially in favor of reading the Washington Post, a newspaper that is easily accessible, but annoying because it's so conservative. Schedules need to be coordinated, children need to be fed on time and put to bed on time and work needs to get done on time. And reading the newspaper or one of the million bits of media available on the web? It largely doesn't get done.
But I think I reached an all-time low this morning when I got to the subway and a man tried to hand me a piece of political literature as he asked me if I had voted. Voted? Today? Are you kidding me? This, after Ed reminded me last night that there was an election today AND there was at least one green party candidate running who I had expressed an interest in at some point. No, I have not voted. And yes, I had forgotten today was an election day in Virginia. Hopefully I'll remember this as I ride my bike home from the subway tonight and I detour to stop at the polls.