Election Day was a big deal for all of us. Voting is one of the most important things we do and it would be malpractice for my observations of “The Story of Kennett” if I didn’t address 2020.
There were 10 chapters in our book, “The Story of Kennett” that touched on the political system that gives us our great schools,made our streets safe and brought diversity to our community.Segmentation is useful but Kennett isn’t identified as“Blue” or “Red”, it is a community that wants the best for everyone and themselves.
So, here is my political journey. My family moved to this area in 1957. Mother had always been a Taft Republican (Ohio) and Dad was a share cropper’s son from West Texas where FDR was the political God. Dad had to register as a Republican because there weren’t any Democrats.I grew up knowing that “I liked Ike”.
We didn’t talk about political stuff until we moved to Switzerland for a few years where I met friends whose father worked for the World Health Organization and they taught me about public health,income inequality, politics and the difference between mass and weight.
From then on, the dinner table discussions at our house were much more interesting. Mom found that she raised 5 Democrats and didn’t know where she went wrong. We told her we paid attention to what she did with her life, not what she said.
After University in ’68 I went off to war with the Navy and got to vote for the first time. Humphrey got us into the war and Nixon was Nixon,so I voted for the Peace and Freedom Party. My future father-in-law ran for the State House as a Republican. Humphrey won PA and Emersonlost.
In Vietnam a close friend gave me good advice. He said; “Find a person who is running for office that you believe in and offer to help.” I came out of the Navy to work in Virginia for DuPont and came across young Virgil Goode. He became a State Senator and we worked on the Equal Rights Amendment.
Later we went to see Ford and Carter debate at W&M. Virgil Goode became a member of the US House of Representatives and in 2012 he ran for President (Constitution Party). So,I was able to vote for Virgil again 45 years later.
I became chair of the Democratic Party for the 5th District of Virginia and we invited a hotshot young Senator named Joe Biden to talk at our Jefferson Jackson Day picnic. We also brought Rosalynn Carter to town and she reciprocated with an invitation to the Trudeau reception at the White House. If you want to impress your spouse, find a way to get invited to an evening at the White house.It makes up for all the evenings and weekends you were gone.
When we moved back to Kennett,we had lost our infant daughter in an operation to repair her heart. My boss Andy Harris talked to me about it. Most people wouldn’t look me in the eye, let alone talk to me about her death. Andy had recently lost his daughter Cheryl and knew what I went through.
Andy had a neighbor, who also had lost his daughter, as well as his wife in a car accident, who came over to talk to him one evening. He compassionately understood and it got Andy through the nights of grief. His neighbor was Joe Biden and Andy hasalways felt indebted to him for this help.
In 2012 Romney won Chester County. In 2016 the Host of a Reality TV show won my precinct’s support for President by 49 votes. My six-year-old grandson Tiernan Robert Magee said; “He can’t be President; he doesn’t believe in the Golden Rule.” My 9-year-old granddaughter Sarah was in tears because her mother will need a new heart some day and the President Elect was going to do away with the ACA and protection from preexisting conditions.
I set out to do what I could to change the outcome next time.The people I worked with to do this were the best and the brightest, as good as any team I have ever worked with. They were well educated, focused and competent. The head of the Chester County Dems had run one of the greatest research institutions in the world.
In 2018 we had our first success and sent two women to Harrisburg and Washington. This was the first Democrat and woman to represent us in the 244-year history of Chester County; a blue wave. Then this year, I went to work for the Commerce Department as Kennett’s Census Field Supervisor to make sure we were all counted. The plan came together.
When COVID hit we didn’t want people to have to choose voting over their health, so we pushed voting by mail. On Election Day the voters at the polls were predominately Republican/Independent and Trump won 656-331 but there was still 1000 mail-in-ballots to be counted.
The tabulation was 1077-899 for Biden and Republican Chester County went more than 50,000 for Biden which was just about his margin of victory for PA. And just like Nate Silver said, “PA was the state that got Biden to 270 Electoral Votes.”The President Elect’s acceptance speech was made just a few miles away in Wilmington.
His message has given me hope that we will stop fighting each other and start fighting COVID as we are on track for another 100,000 deaths before Biden takes office. I hope Joe is right and that we can bring our country together and make our country great like Kennett---the place we work, play and pray together and believe in the Golden Rule.