My 97-year-old grandmother asked for an absentee ballot for the Democratic primary so she can vote for Hillary.
My grandmother has never voted for a Democrat before in her life, but she wanted to “vote for that woman.”
My grandmother was a crack polo player in the 1930s, when polo was a hugely popular public sport (30,000 people took the train up out from Chicago to see the 1938 East-West game, when Will Roger’s team beat the best players from the East coast). Because she was a “girl” my grandmother wasn’t allowed to play — she could play practice matches when someone got hurt, but she never got the chance to compete.
She was also offered a full scholarship to the Northwestern Medical school, which her father convinced her to turn down because she’d be “taking a place from some man who would need to support a family.” Instead, she married my grandfather, and then when he was debhilitated by alcoholism, she supported her family without the aid of anything useful like a medical degree. She was an impatient mother, a woman who would have been much happier running something — a company, a hospital, something other than the Pony and Pet Show she put on with her best friend every summer.
When I was growing up she told me over and over again to stay in school, to get a degree, to go out and make my own money because if you have your own money “no one can tell you what to do.” She told me at about sixteen, long before I even had a boyfriend, that if I ever “got in trouble” to come to her and she’d take care of it. (This from a woman who wanted to abort her fourth child, but couldn’t find anyone back on those days of illegal abortions. My Aunt Molly doesn’t really take it personally, and in fact, she’s the one taking care of my grandmother in her very old age.) And of course, she’s the one who gave me Mrs. Baggot’s ring while whispering fiercely “now you have a really big diamond, and you didn’t have to marry anyone to get it.”
However, there’s always been this weirdly reactionary side to her — I remember her praising Nancy Reagan for walking several steps behind her husband (we mocked her openly for that one). And the only way my mother and two aunts could get out of the house as young women was to get married. But there’s that pissed-off part of my grandmother, the girl who was told she couldn’t play, the woman who had at least two more children than she wanted to, the woman who was convinced not to go to medical school. And that’s the woman who even at 97, is determined to vote for the first woman with a real shot at being the President of the United States. Even if she is a Democrat.
Who knows how many pissed off old ladies there are out there? There’s a group the pollsters haven’t been talking to …