I almost voted for him: By Joseph Walker

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    Dad, Mom, Anita and Reagan: The first time I cast a ballot in a presidential election, I voted for Ronald Reagan. Sort of. I was only 17 for the presidential election of 1972, the first for which 18-year-olds were eligible to vote following the ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So I just missed that election. And I missed the presidential election of 1976 because . . . well, I was pouting. I had given my heart and soul to a gubernatorial campaign, and when my guy was eliminated in the primaries, I vowed I wouldn't vote for ANYONE that year. So I didn't. Feel free to blame me for the Carter administration. By the time the presidential campaign of 1980 rolled around, I was really ready to vote. But I wasn't sure that I was really ready to vote for Ronald Reagan. Mom, Dad and my young wife Anita were big Reagan backers. Heck, everyone I knew was a Reagan backer n I think there were maybe 12 or 13 votes for President Carter in the entire state in which we lived. But I was a fledgling journalist launching my newspaper career, and I felt duty-bound to be cynical, especially with regards to a former actor who seemed too slick, too polished, too "central casting" to be true. I mean, he had been the governor of California, for Pete's sake. What does that say about the man? Not to mention "Hellcats of the Navy." So I looked for reasons not to vote for him. His age, for one thing. He was in his seventies at the time. Could someone that age be expected to put in a full day of work, much less run the largest, most important and most complicated economy in the world? Then I remembered that my Dad was only a few months younger than Reagan, and was working men many years his junior under the table while almost single-handedly keeping the American insurance industry on its collective feet. Age really wasn't an issue. Then I wondered about his toughness, especially in the face of burgeoning Soviet imperialism. As far as I could tell, the toughest customer Reagan had ever faced was a monkey named Bonzo n and he had his hands full with him. Wouldn't this guy be easy pickings for the crafty politicos from the Politburo? Then I remembered that my Mom was just a few years younger than Reagan, and she could beat me up n pulmonary fibrosis notwithstanding. The minute Nikita Khrushchev took his shoe off and started banging it on the table at the United Nations, Mom would have given him such a look that he would have meekly put it back on n and given it a good shine while he was at it. No, toughness wasn't going to be a problem, either. But experience n clearly this was going to be a reason not to vote for Reagan. Sure, he had been a good governor in California. President Carter had been considered a good governor in Georgia, and most political pundits felt the demands of the presidency n and the Ayatollah Khomeini n were overwhelming him. Clearly you needed experience to be successful. Then I remembered Anita, and what a terrific job she was doing mothering our two little children. She didn't have any experience at being a mother, and yet it came to her naturally, as if she had been born to it. Perhaps Reagan had been born to be president. Besides, being president couldn't be any tougher or more important than being the mother of two children under age 3, could it? Pretty soon I ran out of reasons not to vote for Reagan. As I stood in the voting booth for the first time in my life, I toyed with the idea of voting for President Carter simply as a statement of my personal independence and journalistic chutzpah. But then I thought of Dad, Mom and Anita, and somehow it seemed to me that in voting for Reagan I was actually voting for them. Which, it turned out, is exactly what I was doing. Sort of.