A recent letter from my American cousin:
After 40 years of marriage, my wife, Kathy, and I have become swing voters. In retrospect, it seems like this change was inevitable, but if you had asked me even a year ago, I would have condemned swing voting as immoral and un-American.
After all, both Kathy and I grew up in strict, one-party households. I supported Barry Goldwater and she was a Rockefeller Republican. When it came to matters political, we pretty much stuck to one position.
I’m not saying we always followed party lines. Heck, back in college, I even tried my hand at being a Democrat like Ronald Reagan once did. But even then I was still a conservative and always drew the line at swing voting.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure our marriage would make it past the first year. It was 1972 and I was committed to voting for Richard Nixon. Despite Kathy’s moderate tendencies, I thought she would remain faithful and vote for Nixon, too.
To my surprise, she started complaining about how our political life was boring, how we always voted the same way and how a little electoral variety might spice up our marriage. However, when faced with casting a ballot for George McGovern, she finally came around and voted the straight Republican ticket.
After that, we never strayed; it was Republican candidates for both of us all the way. That’s not to say we didn’t have our temptations and indiscretions.
For example, back in 1992, I flirted with a Ross Perot vote although I never told my wife at the time. It turns out she almost succumbed that same year to the temptation to vote for that rascal Bill Clinton.
Throughout our marriage, we have remained devout Republicans. That doesn’t mean we didn’t shake things up once in a while. Any married couple will tell you that sometimes you have to try new positions just to keep things interesting. Of course, most of the time, those positions were conservative although occasionally we’d adopt a moderate stand or, if we were a little tipsy, we might even briefly experiment with a liberal perspective.
But being swing voters was the furthest thing from our minds. Until this year, that is. Personally, I was having a hard time remaining politically monogamous. What with all those crazy candidates in my party, I finally had to admit to a roving eye.
When I confessed to my wife, she, too, admitted she’d been looking for a change. Cute as that Romney fellow is, she harboured a secret attraction to our current President. So we’ve taken the plunge. Not only are we Independents; now we’re open to going either way. It’s surprisingly liberating and has opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Hey, if swing voting is good enough for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, it’s good enough for us.
We’ve attended get-togethers with other swing voters, what some have called key issues parties or, in some cases, tea parties. Despite my conservative roots, I have to admit that it’s a real turn-on to be with all those soccer moms and hockey moms. And Kathy says she’s really excited by all the Reagan Democrats and angry white males she’s met. We’re new to this but we can’t wait to try kinky stuff like third-party candidates, voting across party lines and even ballot spoiling. I don’t know where this new path will take us. I never before imagined I’d ever vote Democratic but anything seems possible now. Well, almost anything. As Kathy says, no matter how much swing voting we do, we’ll never be Hollywood liberals.
David Martin is the author of Dare to be Average.
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