My first “political memory,” if you will, is of eavesdropping in the hallway as a child. I was listening to my family just shred Jimmy Carter on election night, and I felt sorry for him.
It was 1976. I was 7 years old, and it was the last time I ever had any sympathy for a Democrat.
I was born in Chicago in 1969 (as anyone educated pre-Common Core would be able to figure out after reading the preceding paragraph). The family story is that we lived down the street from Hillary Clinton. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if it is, it would explain why we got the heck outta Dodge and moved to Detroit to be with my mom’s family when I was only 2 years old.
I lived in the Motor City until just after that fateful election of Carter. I remember a wonderful childhood living in a little house on Evergreen Road, with eight people and one bathroom. I had the great fortune of living with my maternal grandparents, and with my aunt, uncle and three cousins for a time while their house was under construction. It was the same house my mother had grown up in. Who can say that anymore?
I remember riding my bike with those plastic strips hanging from my handlebars flapping in the breeze, up and down the sidewalk, for hours on end, visiting neighbors, and playing in the back yard near the outdoor fireplace my grandfather had constructed. It was a safe, secure childhood, filled with love, and family. I never recall wanting for anything.
Then all at once, everything changed. I remember the first shooting in Stoepel Park. We lived right across the street, so the shot was loud. I was terrified, and ran and hid under my bed. Suddenly, seemingly out of the blue to my childish sensibilities, my grandparents announced they were “retiring” (hadn’t they been retired for years already?) and were moving to North Carolina. The house went up for sale.
I recall watching TV with a little boy while his parents looked at the house. I remember his face vividly, as if it were yesterday. He had the sweetest smile, and he was the first black child I had ever seen.
I had no idea of the forces that were raging outside my front door, across the country, and the centuries of strife and suffering that had gone on before I was even a thought on this earth. No idea of the history, nor the present at that time, that would take my life, and the life of that little boy sitting in my living room that day, in potentially different directions.
I don’t know if his parents bought the house, but if they did, how did his future turn out? What is his present like now?
I went on to a circumstance of good fortune. I attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia for college, then to live in Germany for a year as an au pair for a family with three children. Afterward, I packed up my car, and drove from Michigan to Washington D.C.
Calling myself a pro-choice, pro-environment Republican (whatever that meant), I arrived on Capitol Hill and moved into a women-only housing facility and started knocking on doors. The first opening came from Congressman Dave Camp’s office, also a fellow Michigander, although from a different district.
From there I had an opportunity to move over to Congressman Newt Gingrich’s office; he was the House minority whip. I was there for the Contract with America, the 1994 Republican takeover of the House, and Gingrich becoming the House speaker.
I stayed on in Washington for some time after that, but became restless, and decided to pursue nursing. The University of Pennsylvania offered nursing as a second degree, so I attended and achieved my degree in December 1998. My parents had since moved to Philadelphia, and those years turned out to be a blessing.
While I lived at home working and earning my degree, my beloved father died from malignant melanoma. I am eternally grateful for those years that I would not have otherwise had with him.
I have worked as an RN ever since, but my love of politics, and of country, have never left me. I moved to Maine in 2007, I am currently the chairwoman of the Cape Elizabeth Republican Town Committee, but will be moving this summer to North Yarmouth.
I am now older and wiser, and steadfastly pro-life. There are few conservative ideals that I do not align myself with. I look at my three children, and wonder what kind of world we are heading toward. I will fight Common Core, progressivism, socialism, and most any other kind of -ism until my last breath.
I think we as a nation are in very real danger of losing our liberty. The media is decidedly leftist and fully in the tank for anything liberal. The Fourth Estate no longer exists in any traditional sense. I am encouraged that The Forecaster was searching for a “conservative columnist,” and am honored and humbled to be part of the team.
I look forward to taking this journey with them, and with you. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Julie McDonald is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer, and chairwoman of the Cape Elizabeth Republican Town Committee. Her column is published every other week.