My intense interest in politics goes back to the television coverage of the 1964 conventions for the two major parties. That was when the floor fights were seen by the public in real-time. It was when the best stuff might happen at 3 a.m. Having become an instant political junkie, I stayed up with the […]
My intense interest in politics goes back to the television coverage of the 1964 conventions for the two major parties. That was when the floor fights were seen by the public in real-time. It was when the best stuff might happen at 3 a.m. Having become an instant political junkie, I stayed up with the live coverage into the wee hours, taking notes in a Spiral notebook.
That year I was impressed with Barry Goldwater and didn‘t like Lyndon Johnson, but I was too young to vote.
Out of high school, I joined the Navy in 1966. At that time I was neither for or against the Vietnam War. It just seemed to be my generation’s war.
Although I was generally in sympathy with aims of Dr. Martin Luther King, social causes were yet to become a passion for me. At the time I didn’t consider myself a Republican or a Democrat and mostly I saw politics as a game practiced by men in power. That surely didn’t mean me.
Experience soon convinced me I was against the Vietnam War, for a while that was the only political issue that mattered all that much.
In the 1970s I had some political cartoons published. I designed a campaign button for George McGovern’s Virginia office and I produced a few radio ads for Democrats. Mostly, I was put off by my association with those who were involved with organized politics.
So, for a long time I stayed away from that world to focus on having fun. But an intense interest in political art and freedom of speech issues drew me back toward the hurly-burly of elections and propaganda.
In 1984 I ran for a seat on Richmond’s City Council. Although I lost, I’m proud of the fact I did carry one of the seven precincts in the district — the one in which the Biograph Theatre was located; the VCU-area cinema I managed for a dozen years.
That experience taught me some good lessons. At the top of the list of lessons was that I should comment on politics with my art and words, rather than be a candidate. Since then that’s what I’ve done.
My commentary on politics is based on my life experience, not on pleasing anyone else’s agenda. I believe those familiar with my work would agree that I’ve not curried favor with powerful people. As well, I hope those who have enjoyed their political power would say I have not been deliberately attacking them, simply because they held it.
In this year’s races I am delighted to be supporting Sen. Barack Obama for president and Mark Warner for the US Senate. So far, I have not picked a candidate to back in Richmond’s mayoral contest. Labeling my brand of politics isn’t so easy, but there’s no denying I haven’t supported many Republicans. Much of my political philosophy would probably be seen as liberal or Libertarian.
When I write about politics I try to be fair and I hope the product is entertaining.
– Words and art by F.T. Rea