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Learning politics: discuss and think about conversations around politics when you were age ten. What were some of the ways you learned about the political establishment through family members and friends? How were you politically socialized as a child?

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This answer will be unique to each individual, but, as a native of the great state of Massachusetts, specifically a town on the south shore known as Braintree (home of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and John Hancock), I will share an interesting anecdote that I believe is reflective of how politics can shape families.

When I was ten, the election of 1988 was taking place. I was living about ten miles south of Boston (in Braintree). The governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, was running against the incumbent vice president, George Bush. Bush served as vice president under Ronald Reagan (as Bush proved his ability as a senior official while working as director of the CIA). There were several interesting things about this election, both with respect to my family and concerning the media.

My mother (a public high school social studies teacher) volunteered for Dukakis's campaign and kept dozens of campaign signs in the back of her station wagon. Meanwhile, my father (her husband) supported Bush. My father taught at an independent school and recognized that his job depended on the wealthy not having their incomes taxed to an extent that would dissuade them from sending their children to the private school where he worked. My mother (a public school teacher) supported the democratic interest in raising teacher salaries and taxing the wealthy. My parents remained amicable throughout the election (which Bush won).

Concerning the media coverage of this election, Dukakis's last month of campaigning was victimized by a smear campaign which accused him of having released a convicted felon, Willie Horton, for a furlough.

Finally, Ross Perot ran as the third-party candidate. He sought to address the country's economic problem by means of cutting government spending. This election represented a heyday for Saturday Night Live, which featured Dana Carvey playing Ross Perot. This era inaugurated the tradition of comedy addressing itself to political discussions and, in turn, serving as a major public source of them.

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