Why I Nearly Fainted When My Husband Announced, “Yep, Pete’s the Guy.”

“Yep, Pete’s the guy,” said my husband Fred as the telecast of last month’s presidential debate was wrapping up.

“Wait. What did you say?” I asked.

“I said that Pete is the guy.”

“The guy for…uh…what exactly?”

“What do you mean, ‘for what’? To be president!”

“Well, I, uh, just wasn’t expecting to hear that so soon.”

“Well, you heard it because I said it. And I really mean it.”

I sat there dazed. I had to quickly gather my thoughts so I didn’t ask another ridiculous question that would cause him to question whether my wits remained intact. OK, get it together, Joyce.

Recap. I just heard my dear husband — a self-proclaimed political conservative/social progressive — say that Pete is the guy he wants to see as president in 2020. Just weeks before, he was a fan of precisely NO ONE who had declared their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President — including Pete. But now, something Pete said or did during that first debate had changed his mind. Dramatically. I had to know what it was…

Before I go on, you need to know something: Fred did not vote for Trump in 2016. He didn’t vote for Hillary either. Like so many others in 2016, he could not bring himself to vote for either candidate. So he didn’t. He dutifully voted all the other races, slipped his ballot into the slit on the top of the “PLACE BALLOTS HERE” box and left. He was the guy with the, “Well, that was a supreme waste of time,” look on his face as he exited his polling station in 2016.

Another thing you should know: Fred is the kind of guy for whom the cup is always half full. “Well, Joyce, whether we like it or not, Trump is going to be President for at least the next four years,” he mused on that dark and surreal morning after the 2016 election. (I wasn’t ready to hear the rest of what he had to say. I was still thinking there had been some kind of colossal mistake which would be corrected by dinnertime.) “As Americans,” he continued. “We should all want him to succeed. We can only hope that he’ll appoint capable people to his administration who will conduct the nation’s business in good faith.”

Fred’s half-full cup quickly sprung a leak as the repulsive likes of Bannon, Manafort, Papadopoulos, Spicer, Flynn, Huckabee-Sanders, Scaramucci, Conway, Cohen, Miller and other figures of that ilk began clicking the turnstiles at the White House. (In time, some had to move on from hearing the White House doors open to hearing the “clink-clink” of their prison cell doors close each night.) It was the government in constant chaos with the Keystone Cops in charge.

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Fred wearing his brand new “Pete” hat

Fast forward to the night of June 28, 2019. Wearing the battle scars of two and a half years under the scourge of a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, narcissistic madman — and living in a home where his wife had been swooning over Pete since March — Fred had a breakthrough moment. “What did Pete do or say tonight that made you a Pete fan?” I asked him. I prayed that he wasn’t going to say something like, “Well, I’ve raised the white flag. I give up. I’m going to have to get behind someone and it might as well be Pete or I’ll never hear the end of it.” (He didn’t, thank goodness.)

“Well first, it’s his intellect,” he answered.

“Well, he is very smart, that’s for sure. Anything else?”

“His intellect and his cool demeanor when answering tough questions. You know he kind of made it look easy. And he was for SURE the most mature adult in the room. And boy, is he articulate. Plus he appears to be humble and honest — almost to a fault. I couldn’t believe how he took total responsibility for the diversity problems in South Bend’s police force and all the turmoil since Eric Logan was killed by a white police officer. He just said, ‘I couldn’t get it done.’ Who does that? I’ve never seen anyone in a presidential debate do that before. He just totally owned it, though I’m not sure he really had to do that because I don’t think the blame should lie just with him at all. But I was really impressed with that. He’ll be “the buck stops here” kind of President and I really admire that.”

“Wow. I agree,” I said. Fred was silent for several moments…lost in thought. Looking over at him, I could see he was beaming. “What? You have more, right?”

“Yes,” he began. “It’s a feeling — and a really strong one — that I’ve just watched the next JFK.”

Chills. Chills. Chills.

Wow. Fred had just gone from “in deep like” to “hopelessly smitten” with Pete. Fred has always considered himself to be a “Kennedy Democrat” — and he now likens JFK’s intelligence, oration skills, political savviness, and charismatic statesmanship to the qualities Pete possesses.

“But remember Fred, JFK and Pete were not political soul mates ideologically,” I said.

“That’s true,” he said. Fred went on to say that politically speaking, he sees that the biggest difference between the two is that JFK’s fiscal and political ideologies and policies put him more in the “leftish-leaning” conservative column (which is where Fred lives), while Pete mostly camps out in the liberal “centrist-leaning” column. Fred pointed out that history has had a way of forgetting this since the more emotional and enduring storyline of “Camelot lost” is what people remember most— perhaps subconsciously equating the Kennedy family’s relative youth with the brand of liberalism as it is perceived today.

Fred was quick to compare the eloquence of Pete’s own words: “Being attentive to the things that add meaning to our lives alongside politics will help us inform our politics with the values that really do make America great.” — with some of the most eternal words of JFK: “ Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

“So, you’re in,” I said. “I see it.”

“I am definitely in Pete’s camp all the way,” Fred continued. “But just so you know Joyce, I am not 100% behind all of his policy proposals — at least not yet. But I don’t have to be. It’s just a deep gut feeling. He’s my guy.”

This conversation with my husband In the moments following the end of the debate made me feel totally seen and heard by my husband…politically speaking, that is. In the days that followed, Fred started to open up about his newly preferred candidate…offering up more reasons why he too has become so enamored with Pete.

“Like all great leaders, what sets Pete apart from the rest is he has a clearly focused vision of the future of this country,” Fred told me after watching Pete speak in Ankeny, Iowa on July 26. “For me, that goes way beyond the political and into the aspirations of everyday Americans who have opinions about what they want for their future — and Pete is listening to them. He is really listening. You could see it as he was taking questions from the audience and really engaging one-to-one with them. People know when someone’s listening or when it’s just lip-service. And they know he’s listening. Pete means it when he says he’s looking to the American people to shape his campaign and the future of this country. Yep, Pete’s the guy.”

Since Fred’s momentous “Pete epiphany” last month, things have been even sweeter at home. (Truth: Fred’s a really sweet guy to begin with.) He walks in the door each night and asks, “What’s the latest with Pete today?” (He knows I pay REALLY close attention.) He seeks out news of all things Pete when he’s on his iPad. He sends me links to stories about Pete that move him or even those that upset him if they are negative about Pete…though I’m sitting right next to him in the living room. He bought a Pete hat — and he looks so darn cute in it.

I’m so glad I can share this remarkable Pete journey now with Fred. Out of the darkness and into the light we go…together. #20PETE20

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