By Andy Rooney: It's never been clear to me whether I want to say I'm a Democrat or a Republican.
It's never been clear to me whether I want to say I'm a Democrat or a Republican. I guess I'd have to say I'm a Democrat, if I'm anything, but I'm probably not anything. I'm always surprised at friends who think they know for sure which candidate is best.
Political parties are of little interest to me, and it seems as though they draw lines where lines don't have to be drawn. When I was a kid, each politician had election cards with his (almost always "his") picture on them. The cards were about 3-by-5 inches in size. I can remember one of the best games I ever played was pitching local election cards. Each kid threw a card and the card that came closest to the wall won. He then had to give the other player one of his cards, though never his "pitcher."
To make our election cards slide better, we dipped them in hot wax. Sometimes we bought a "puncher" and punched holes in the cards. Election cards were as important as politics and politicians ever got to me. I still remember what Mayor Hackett's card looked like. William Hackett was the mayor of Albany in 1924. I was only 5 years old and I remember my mother telling me that he'd died in office in 1926. It's funny what facts stick in your brain and which do not.
It's strange that we only have two major political parties in this country when we have so many political opinions. You'd think there might be five or six major parties. Political parties are important but I think they represent the least enlightened element of our political system.
It's really ridiculous when you think of it that any American decides once and for all that he is either a Democrat or a Republican. I know that there's a Green Party and a Libertarian Party. But I don't know anyone who belongs to these parties. My father was sure he was a Republican but I don't think he could have told anyone why. He certainly never told me. I only remember that he didn't like Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time, he thought FDR's election was the worst thing to befall this country.
When you consider that there are over 308,000,000 Americans — give or take a few million — it's remarkable that our elections are so close. Year after year, Republicans and Democrats fight it out.
The biggest division is between people who are politically liberal and those who are politically conservative. There aren't many people who are politically neutral.
I think of myself as politically neutral, but I suppose a lot of people who aren't nevertheless think of themselves as fair, honest and neutral. When I force myself to choose, I have to admit that I'm probably more liberal than conservative.
Our last presidential election came down to a contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. It was my opinion that they were both good. I liked them, but I think that this country and the world would be a different place if John McCain had been voted into office.
There's no telling what America would be like today if Franklin D. Roosevelt had never been elected.
Write to Andy Rooney at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.