I want to be Eliana when I grow up.
Unfortunately, that will never happen. But what compels me to even contemplate this knowing it is impossible? You see, Eliana is everything I wish I could have been but never was—athletic, intelligent, hard working, drop-dead gorgeous, and talented. For starters, she’s a near straight-A student who has to work hard while taking some of the toughest courses Elyria Catholic has to offer. She’s a 3-year varsity soccer player, an actress, poet, Eucharistic Minister and a lector. There is nothing she cannot do if she chooses to do so. And at the age of 18, she is a seasoned political campaigner with five years of grassroots GOTV experience. Eliana reads two newspapers every day and often catches the evening news, on Fox, of course.
I can’t say what Eliana’s future will be but if she wishes to plunge into the political waters, like everything else she does, she stands a good chance of being very successful, perhaps even reaching the presidency? My first political activity was shaking Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s hand when he came to Lorain, OH campaigning for Richard Nixon in 1960. I was 10. But I didn’t do any hard work until I was 14 when I knocked on doors on behalf of my friend whose father was running for mayor of Lorain. Eliana was 13 when she first started her political experience while helping her mother campaign for municipal judge. Since then she has volunteered to knock on doors and make phone calls on behalf of the President and other candidates.
Two of the most poignant events vis—-vis politics came when Eliana was 8 and 14 years old. During one of our many rides from school or to the grocery store, I’m not sure which, we were listening to a discussion on NPR about the merits of the impeachment case against President Clinton while the Senate deliberated his conviction or acquittal. After listening to the arguments, Eliana thoughtfully spoke up and said, “He should be convicted.” Surprised with that answer, I asked why? Eliana’s response was: “Because he lied—no, because he lied under oath.”
The other occasion was during the summer of the 2004 presidential election at a time when Senator John Kerry was ahead in the opinion polls. We were eating dinner when I stated that Kerry wasn’t a good candidate, wouldn’t make a good president and besides, he probably wouldn’t be elected, given that very few senators aspiring to be President have been elected. Eliana asked, “Why’s that?” I mentioned that governors historically do better at being elected president. Looking down at her plate and moving around the food with her fork, she thoughtfully mused, “Well, I guess I’ll have to be a governor.”
Eliana will graduate from Elyria Catholic in May as the valedictorian of her class. She has been accepted by Stanford, Miami University, University of Chicago, American University, Macalester, and Swarthmore.
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