The other day I was saddened to read of the passing of Senator Lloyd Bentsen. I ended up digging up some memorabilia from the 1988 presidential election, where Mike Dukakis selected Senator Bentsen as his vice-presidential running mate.
Although I never had the opportunity to meet Senator Bentsen, Wisconsin was evidently one of the important states in the Democratic primaries that spring. Perhaps not so much later in the fall after the convention…
Governor Dukakis made his way to teeny, relatively insignificant Sheboygan, Wisconsin (or here) in Early April 1988 for a rally event at South High School. I was 11 years old, and barely even in middle school… but I somehow convinced my parents to let me skip school long enough to go to the event down the road at the high school!
I had been boostering for Dukakis throughout the primary season and helping the Sheboygan County Democrats with putting together signs, handouts, etc. I even talked my way into making some (only a few) cold calls to the registered voters list. I can only imagine what the various people probably thought when they got a call from an 11–year-old (and believe me, I definitely sounded 11) asking if they were interested in more information on Michael Dukakis!
Anywho, the day finally arrived and I slipped out of middle school classes, hopped onto my bike, and raced down to South High. Parked the bike, went in and listened to the political talk. Then (and here’s the truly nostalgic part), when it was over, I raced out of the auditorium, around the back side of the building by the parking lot… and talked my way into holding the door for Governor Dukakis as he exited the building. To be fair, it was a good photo-op having an enthusiastic and wide-eyed 11–year-old holding the door, so it’s pretty likely it was an easier sell to get myself in there than it would be, say, today.
We all know that they didn’t win the general election against the first of the Bush presidents. But at the very least, I can take some pride in the fact that they carried Wisconsin’s 11 electoral votes.
In any case, here’s my lasting swag from April of 1988… proof that I’ve been politically active since long before I could vote:
I’m really glad someone had a camera! I don’t remember all the details, but someone ended up getting this picture back to me a few days later and I still have it today. Dug it out the other day and scanned it in so I could finally post it. Note too that in my hand is one of the fliers from the day’s event… autographed a moment earlier by Governor Dukakis. I scanned that too, so perhaps I’ll post it sometime as another nostalgic look back.