Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Love Watching the Hill

My time as an undergrad at Georgetown prepared me for more than a few sleepless Tuesday nights in November over the past 25 years. I was reminded of that last Tuesday when I spent most of the night dozing on my couch, struggling to stay awake long enough to catch all the late-breaking coverage of Election 2006. Needless to say, I was a zombie at work on Wednesday.

One of my colleagues asked me, “Why on earth would you stay up all night for that? Especially when you can just as easily read about it online when you wake up? It’s not like your watching had any effect on the outcome.” It’s tough to explain the politics bug to someone who hasn’t been lucky enough to catch it.

In my case, the infection came early, and, to be fair, not all the blame lies with Georgetown. I was raised in a politically-charged family, and politics was a frequent topic of dinner-time conversation. My parents’ approach to politics was relatively tribal. By age 10, I knew that the good guys sat to the left of the aisle and that those guys on the right, well, we could pray for them, just as we prayed for the conversion of Russia, but we couldn’t count on anything good coming from them. Remember, that was the time of the Nixon administration.

In high school, my friends found my passion for politics, like my love of Latin and Greek, to be a bit odd. I never understood how they could get so worked up over a simple homecoming game and yawn at the approach of the Iowa caucuses. Didn’t they get it? To their credit, they never really hassled me and other politically-obsessed friends about our teenage passion for things political, but in their heart of hearts they thought we were freaks. Maybe we were.

Then I came to Georgetown and found a world I had only imagined. Rummaging through some boxes in my parents’ garage not long ago, I came across a letter I had written to them during the first few weeks of my freshman year at Georgetown (this was in the pre-computer, pre-email Dark Ages, when people actually still wrote to one another in longhand). In the letter I went on and on about how much I was enjoying my early days as a Hoya. One of the chief reasons I cited was that “not only do the kids here know that there is a Secretary of State, they actually know who it is. They’re smart and interested in politics – I love it here.”

I remember spending many Sunday afternoons that year with my newfound college friends drinking too much coffee in the New South cafeteria arguing politics and listening to Bruce Springsteen, with brunch dishes piled up on our trays.

That same year, I stopped at the SAC fair on Healy Lawn. At one of the tables, I picked up a simple blue and grey “Georgetown College Democrats” pin. That pin has traveled with me everywhere I have gone since 1978. Today it’s on discrete display on my desk in my office in Qatar as a small reminder to me of the few things that have remained the same as the years have rolled by and so much else has changed.

After I graduated from Georgetown, I worked in the U.S. Senate for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) for a few years before entering the Jesuits at age 26. I worked for Bingaman during the heady days of the early part of his first term. In my semi-slumber last Tuesday, I heard Chris Matthews announce that he had been re-elected to his fifth term. I felt old, but happy.

Over the past couple of years I have watched as my sister Colleen (SFS ’86) and her husband have raised their three children. The oldest is in sixth grade. She and her first grade brother are already showing signs of being powerfully bitten by the politics bug. They eagerly help their parents pound candidates’ signs into their front lawn every other October, and they beg to be allowed to stay up late the night of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even numbered years to watch the returns with the grown-ups.

My guess is that my poor nieces and nephew are already probably freaks of a sort. My hope is that genetics will run true and they’ll turn out, like their mom and their uncle, to be the sort of freak that is naturally drawn to our crazed but beloved, Hilltop.

Fr. Ryan Maher, S.J., is assistant dean for academic affairs at SFS-Q. He can be reached at rjm27georgetown.edu. AS THIS JESUIT SEES IT . appears every other Tuesday.

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