Midday on Super Tuesday 2008 we were still undecided. I paced in front of the Vassar library on my lunch hour, flip phone pressed to my ear. “I feel like Hillary is my favorite teacher from high school. How could I possibly vote against her?” “I know,” said my mom who was in her car outside her polling place on Cape Cod. “But Teddy endorsed Obama.”
This poli sci grad had raised her daughter to believe that politics mattered. We didn’t run for office (except for my mom’s near miss at town government when she was 25), but we never skipped a vote and we always watched too much MSNBC during campaign season.
Pundits say that endorsements don’t influence outcomes, but when Hyannis Port is in your home town and Rose, Ethel, and Ted frequently sat just a few pews away on Sunday, the Kennedy opinion mattered. For all his flaws and alleged secrets, we felt like we knew the man. And Ted knew the candidates in a way that the viewers at home never could.
But we live in a different world now in 2016. We elected Teddy’s guy and made history, but it didn’t really change our lives in any tangible way. Senator Kennedy has since died and I have no trusted D.C. insider to turn to. My mother has died too, so I’ve lost my electoral confidant.
This election year, it’s like being a child lost in a great city. I don’t know the way home and I can’t guess which choice leads to the best possible future.
This just reveals a truth that was always there: no candidate can promise safety in a shifting world. Stump speeches can’t make the economy treat us nicely and not even the wisest, most compassionate politician can deliver what you really want : a promise that the good things in life will last forever.