Inspired by Barack Obama's inauguration (for which we got up at 2:30 am to watch on TV), I present a photo of me "coming out" as a Democrat, circa 1982.
I didn't even remember that this picture existed until several old college friends recently discovered Facebook. They have formed a FB group devoted to our dorm, the Westlawn Foreign Language House, at the University of Iowa. This was a small, co-ed dorm devoted to students studying foreign languages (I was in the German House) that was established in the early '80s. We were quite a distance away from the other dorms on campus, and this remoteness contributed to our becoming a close-knit group of students from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. I have had minimal contact with members of this group over the last few decades, so it has been fantastic to reconnect with the 20 or so people who have found the Facebook group.
Anyway, when I went off to college in the fall of 1981, I was a die-hard Reagan Republican. I wasn't old enough to vote for Reagan in 1980, but I was sure a vocal proponent of his policies when I moved to Westlawn. Why I had these strong beliefs I can't really remember. Being fond of debating, I quickly got myself involved with all sorts of lounge-room squabbles with my (mostly) Democratic rivals. Somewhere along the way, however, this photo shows that I must have lost a bet, and I was forced to wear a sign announcing that I had at last seen the light. By 1983, when George McGovern came to Iowa City in anticipation of running for the presidential primary, I was a complete Democrat. I sort of woke up one day and realized that I actually agreed with what the Democrats were saying more than I did with the Republicans. To this day, I have yet to cast a vote for a Republican, but I like to think that I would if I ever found one with whom I agreed.
So, yes, besides the 60 pounds I have added since this photo was taken, I also gained a different political outlook. And that's why I had such an excellent time at 3:00 am Brisbane time this past Wednesday.