Shirley Chisolhm earned my first vote for President of the United States. It was in the California primary in 1972.
Her candidacy was not considered “viable” by the media; of course they were right. She was not going to be nominated in the year of George McGovern vs Richard Nixon.
But, she was the best person running. She was intelligent, articulate, fearless, moderate in her speech, and right on so many of the issues.
Voting for her felt great.
Voting for Shirley Chisolhm established my optimistism about American politics: we usually have several bright, dedicated people willing to subject themselves to media barrages, public skepticism, and miserable work hours in order to make the country better.
In 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisolhm was at the top of my list of people I wanted to lead the country. By that fall I had accepted that my first choice was no longer on the ballot; I urgently wanted Senator George McGovern to win in November. I believe that our country would be stronger had more voters agreed with my choices.
In following elections the thrill of finding selfless — if sometimes egotistical — candidates has sustained me. John Anderson in 1990 and Howard Dean in 2004 are two men who furthered my belief that there is a good person out there offering to lead the nation. There have been many others dedicated candidates who would have been fine Presidents, too. I cannot accept the conventional complaint of “lesser of evils” or the iconoclastic glee of the press that tells me that no politican is truly worthy of my respect.
I know that my vote for Shirley Chisolhm was a hellova great choice. She was not unique, though. There are still lots of great choices to make.
Thank you, Shirley Chisolhm, for being there when I needed to learn how to vote.