An American Voter: My Love Affair with Presidential Politics [NOOK Book]

Overview

When Joan Sullivan was sixteen, her sister got married on their sprawling farm in New Jersey. Bill Bradley, the senator and former NBA player, was among the guests. Suddenly, magically, Joan found herself on the basketball court with him. An athlete herself, awed by his dedication to both sports and politics, she slipped off her shoes, bunched up her bridesmaid dress, and tried not to smile too brightly when he took her as a partner.

Five ...
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An American Voter: My Love Affair with Presidential Politics

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Overview

When Joan Sullivan was sixteen, her sister got married on their sprawling farm in New Jersey. Bill Bradley, the senator and former NBA player, was among the guests. Suddenly, magically, Joan found herself on the basketball court with him. An athlete herself, awed by his dedication to both sports and politics, she slipped off her shoes, bunched up her bridesmaid dress, and tried not to smile too brightly when he took her as a partner.

Five years later, Sullivan is in Des Moines, Iowa, working feverishly for Bill Bradley's presidential campaign. Haunted by the death of her father and feeling disconnected from her life in New York, Joan throws herself into this strange new world, intent on getting a political education. In a whirlwind tour of the U.S., Joan campaigns for Bradley, taking to heart his message that idealism and dreams are not dead in America.

But Joan is not immune to the perils of politics. In one embarrassing moment, she resorts to a shoving match with a Gore supporter in the streets of Brooklyn. But through her experiences, Joan discovers some larger truths: that defeat does not necessarily mean failure; that although Bradley will ultimately lose the campaign, she and others can continue to work for change; and that voting is more than participating in politics; it is a personal and powerful way to participate in life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sullivan's debut is a surprisingly suspenseful memoir of her months as an advance person for the Iowa caucus in the 2000 presidential primary campaign of Bill Bradley. The suspense is not in the outcome of the Gore-Bradley face-off, but in whether Sullivan's political idealism can survive the compromises, inanities and media cynicism in short, the commercialization of the American political process. Sullivan, a 1995 Yale graduate who now teaches at the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice, joins the Bradley campaign believing he offers a more honest, issue-oriented approach to public policy. But her past indicates no abiding interest in politics, and her commitment to the campaign represents a belated and poignantly drawn personal search for meaning after her father died of pancreatic cancer in 1994. She describes with wit and insight her initiation into political campaigning, the tedium of finding the perfect location for a photo op, the perceived importance of details such as the shape and size of a podium. The youthful political consultants (who routinely change allegiances) are particularly sharply drawn. Sullivan eloquently criticizes the media for reporting storylines rather than candidate positions. Despite the pressure of the campaign, Bradley generally retains his luster, especially in comparison with Gore, who is depicted as primarily a political animal. Readers will like Sullivan and find encouragement in the fact that while her firsthand look at politics makes her flinch, she concludes that participation in the electoral process is worthwhile. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Swift and often affecting debut memoir about the author's experiences working for Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential campaign. Looking back on her months with Bradley, from the optimism of Iowa to the death wounds of Super Tuesday, Sullivan writes, "I don't think I was a cynic when I started and I don't think I am a cynic now, but somewhere in between I learned what it is to hate." Objects of her hatred include the media and Al Gore. She believes the former set unrealistic expectations for Bradley and then dismissed him when he failed to meet them; she views the latter as an unprincipled mannequin. (The slender, not-yet-30 former college athlete also reveals in several places a disdain for people who are older and overweight, calling one person, for example, "a big, fat middle-aged man.") Like many other novice writers, the author is not certain what is common knowledge, what is not. So she tells us that John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley and identifies the Holland Tunnel and Cornel West. She also drops into her text some obtrusive quotations from Richard Hofstadter, George Orwell, and others. Still, she displays in numerous places a fresh phrase, a sharp eye, and keen ear as she describes her undying affection for Bradley and her round-the-clock schedule of planning campaign events in unfamiliar Iowa, dealing with the hated media, skirmishing with a pushy Secret Service agent, eating inedible food, trying to anticipate (and counter) the moves of the Gore team, and suffering from exhaustion so deep that one of her sisters barely recognizes her when they meet near the end of the campaign. Most touching of all are memories of her father, who died in 1994 of pancreatic cancer,interwoven with and contrasted to Bradley's moribund campaign. Missteps aside: an energetic new voice that can both sing sweetly and sigh bitterly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596919556
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 12/16/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 412 KB

Meet the Author

Joan Sullivan lives in New York City and currently teaches at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice. She has appeared on the Evening News with Peter Jennings, and was filmed teaching her class about the Electoral College. She spent two years working for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency which investigates police misconduct. She is a 1995 graduate of Yale College, where she majored in American Studies. This is her first book.
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