I was raised a Democrat. Being Catholic, I believe I was raised a Kennedy Democrat. But I was always taught to think for myself. I remember my folks had a Dukakis yard sign in 1988, and a Perot sign in 1992. One year, we were having a family reunion at the Carroll Rec Center and Tom Harkin happened to be there campaigning. Everyone was lined up to shake his hand and he bypassed me and all of my little cousins. I looked down the line and yelled, "Sure, ignore your future voters!" He did a total 180 and came back to talk to us kids. My Dad grabbed my shoulder tight and I could tell my parents wanted to sink into the wall.
Before my children were even a twinkle in my eye, I was involved in politics. While finishing my last semester at Iowa State, I started working for the Iowa GOP, canvassing door to door in the 2002 election. Being raised a Democrat, my parents weren't sure what I was doing...but let me explore and learn on my own. I also wrote a weekly political column for the Iowa State Daily, taking a Conservative viewpoint. I credit that experience to learning how to take criticism, constructive and not so constructive. I was referred to as the "Ann Coulter" of the news room. Something I knew the other writers perceived to be an insult, I thought it was a compliment.
Believe it or not, I'd get very negative emails and phone calls and even stopped on campus (as my picture ran with the article). I would even get personal injury threats and while they scared me, they never manifested into anything...thankfully.
I continued to work in politics after graduation, first working for the Iowa House Majority Leader and then on Senator Grassley's campaign in 2004. I was also involved in the local Central Committee, first being appointed as Secretary and then elected as Co-Chair of the County Party. While working for Grassley's campaign, I met my husband. We welcomed our first son, Liam, in the fall of 2005.
Liam would spend countless hours at the Polk County headquarters and made many friends with those running for office and the volunteers. He even referred to the County Chair as "Uncle Teddy". He would attend dinners with me and was always so well behaved. He would approach people, shake their hand and say, "Pleased to meet you, my name is Liam Bowman." Seeing people he knew on TV was common for him.
|Baby Liam and Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey|
He was also aware of what was going on in the world and in politics. I believe that my husband serving in Iraq caused Liam to grow up and be more mature than his age. He was my closest companion for a year, and I talked to him like an adult, not like a two year old.
I recall coming home from work and daycare, Liam sat on the couch and said, "Mommy, Inna watch Fox Choose." I turned it to Fox News and he sat and watched it. Liam also believed that the word "Democrat" was a naughty word. Anytime someone would say it, he'd respond, "Oooooh, we don't say that!" During the 2008 election, he enjoyed watching McCain's speeches. One time, the cat was sitting on the couch where he wanted to sit and he said, "Move, my friend," including the signature McCain hand gestures.
Now that he's four, going on five, he's paying even more attention to things. The other day he asked me why "those guys on TV are so mean to each other?" I tried to explain to him negative ads and he responded, "But if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Wouldn't it be nice is life really was that way? I told him about how negative ads work on people who don't do their own research and vote because of what they see on TV. He couldn't understand that. He knew that his dad, his grandpa, his great grandpa, they all fought for the freedoms we have, one of which is voting. "But why would someone vote if they didn't really know what they're voting for?" Good question, Liam.
Maybe he will be a politician some day. Maybe he'll rebel against us and become a Democrat. And that's fine. As long as he came to that conclusion himself, just like I did.