Jimmy Carter, the Only King I’d Ever Known

On January 20, 1981, I walked home from kindergarten at Longfellow Elementary in Mayfield, Kentucky with my older sister. On the television, news anchors were covering Inauguration Day activities.

“What’s happening?” I asked my sister.

“We have a new President,” she said.

At the time, I was immersed in the world of storybooks – with knights and kings and princesses.  There were no democratically elected leaders in the books my parents read to me before bed.. only kindly kings who ruled beneficently over their kingdoms and threw the occasional ball for the purposes of royal matchmaking.

All I’d ever known was Jimmy Carter, and I assumed he would always be our leader.

“Who’s taking his place” I asked.

“A guy named Ronald Reagan.”

I burst into tears.

Ironically, I grew up to became a staunch Republican even though my first political memory was lamenting the moment when this man named Reagan had dethroned the only king I’d ever known.

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This post is a response to Chris Cillizza’s question about our first political memories.

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.


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