Democratic View: Optimism

When you read this in The Press on Thursday the election will be over, the votes will have been counted, and we’ll know the results. I’m writing this on Monday, the day before the election, in order to meet a deadline. I don’t know how things will turn out. No one does.

There was an article about the election in The Press last week. Toward the end the reporter mentioned me. He said I told him I was cautiously optimistic. I always say that because I’m naturally, but cautiously, optimistic. I’ve been disappointed by elections in the past, but, like a lot of people, I’ve managed to bounce back. And there have been election nights when things have gone well, nights I spent with friends who were tired but happy, full of optimism about the future, and ready to start working on the next campaign. There’s always another campaign.

I’ve been interested in elections since I was a kid. I remember listening to my father and our next-door neighbor talking about politics. I don’t think they agreed very often, but they didn’t argue. They didn’t get mad. They just talked. I’d go to the firehouse with my parents on Election Day and wait while they voted. I worked as a volunteer on voter registration drives when I was in school, before I was old enough to vote. You had to be 21 to vote then. It was before the voting age was changed to 18 by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. (You may not remember that, but you can look it up. It happened in 1971.) I registered to vote on the Monday after my 21st birthday. The only reason I didn’t register on my birthday was that it was a Saturday in the middle of Thanksgiving weekend, and the town offices were closed. I’ve been involved ever since.

There are a lot of reasons why I keep doing it. One reason is that being part of the process gives us a chance to change the world, sometimes in small ways, and other times in very important ways. Another one is the people. The camaraderie is real, and the enthusiasm is infectious. They’re trying to change the world, change it for the better, change it not just for themselves, but for everybody. And there are moments I’ll never forget. There was a man who shook my hand after I helped him fill out a voter registration card a long time ago. And there was a woman who knocked on the window when I was cleaning out Democratic headquarters the day after last year’s presidential election, came in, and hugged me.

No matter how things turn out, we’ll be working on the next campaign before you read this on Thursday. And we’ll be planning for the one after that. Join us. You can find us at

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column. Tom Madden is the DTC’s chairman.