Week of November 5th: First Political Memory

“What Is Your First Political Memory?”political memories

Duke students vividly remember the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008, including mock “elections” that took place in their elementary schools. One student remembers their teacher saying decent people “vote McCain”. Students said they often had little to no political understanding, but favored a certain candidate because parents or teachers told them to.

A few students also remember the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

One student said that his first political memory was the 2012 attack on US government attacks in Benghazi (“the Benghazi scandal” in the students words). Another noted that their earliest political memory was Richard Nixon’s resignation; they think they learned about it in a class.

I was interested to find that many students remembered Obama and McCain as their first political memory. This is also mine; I think it’s important that so many people see this as a defining moment in their lives. For me, it started a new chapter of political engagement and awareness. Even though we were all just in 3rd grade, this shared experience will affect us forever.

Speaking to students about their first political memory allowed us to examine the political climate at Duke. While some students were proud of witnessing the “first black president”, others remember their families “hating ObamaCare.” Although students said their families shape their political views, multiple students described generational differences in political opinions.

what are students earliest political memories?