My family has traditionally traveled a couple times a year to be with my mother’s family, just north of Pittsburgh. Our gathering place was originally my grandparents’ home: several acres of magnificent rural land that is still so vivid to me now. My mother had four siblings, and in addition to my own four siblings and me, one of my aunts also had five kids who were close to us in age. These cousins have often felt like a second set of siblings. We all ran amok all over that land, but my main partners-in-crime were Shane and an older female cousin ours. Shane was never afraid to get dirty or wet, and Samara and I would at least follow, if not embrace, his lead.
I didn’t grow up as a racing fan. In fact, I used to joke that that a competitive activity wasn’t a “sport” unless there was some sort of spherical object involved. But there was still something about attending the biggest car race in the world for the first time back in 2012 that felt like a cementing of my hoosier identity.
Some time late summer or early fall of 2015, I remember tweeting my lament that the media kept giving Donald Trump so much attention. It was essentially my belief that he wasn’t a serious candidate, that this was all a big game to him, and that the primary season would show that. How could everyone else not see that? After all, those who are labeled as early front runners often don’t win. Around that same time, I also wrote a blog post — motivated by a kind of realpolitik instinct — that predicted that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would cruise to their respective Republican and Democratic nominations. I thought those two individuals, more than any others in the race, had the names, history, money, and power to move convincingly toward the White House.
As an eighth grader, I had accepted (through a kind of osmosis) the idea that good kids get A’s on report cards, live at home with two parents, attend church regularly, and probably star on the local sports team. That’s who I was trying to be. I’d never been in a fight before, unless you count scraps in the yard with my older brother.
To the contrary, bad kids lived with single parents, struggled to read out loud in school, and didn’t play sports because they were too busy doing drugs. That description fit Steve, or at least that’s the way I saw him. He was one grade ahead of me in school.
“In the here-and-now, I vote—but always with a torn heart. I have not yet met a candidate or a political proposal that embodies all that I dream for…” -Steve Garber in “Making Peace with Proximate Justice”
My undergraduate degree is in political science, and I once imagined making a life for myself in Washington, D.C. During those years — thanks to a last-minute roommate gift and generous hospitality from a high school friend — I even attended a presidential inauguration. So it may come as a surprise that I haven’t voted in the past two presidential elections.