It is said by an African proverb, "it takes a village to raise a child."
My village grew up with the Kennedy and Cuomo family tradition of dinner table politics.
Politics are our fabric and glue and we bleed for the Democratic Party. As all baby
boomers our fathers are part of the" greatest generation", who grew up during the
depression and served in WWII. When they came home, they educated themselves,
married our mothers and raised families. My father, John Finley Clough Jr, enlisted
because it was his best option in order to control his military destiny. He selected the air
force because he always wanted to be a pilot; however, Dad crashed on his first day in
flight school on his maiden landing and broke several ribs. It was a failure that may have
saved his life from missions in Europe as well as brought him a rewarding part-time
career and hobby; he was made a radio operator. After the war, he went to college
supported by the GI Bill since it was an opportunity that was not a financial possibility
for him without it. The GI Bill paid for him to attend some of the finest schools in our
country. He graduated from Johns Hopkins with a bachelor's degree in political science,
attended Duke Law School, and earned a master's degree in political science at The
University of Pennsylvania, and PhD studies at Penn as well. While at Hopkins, Dad
impressed his political science professor, V.O. Key Jr, who served as his mentor in his
subsequent career as a political science professor and college administrator
V.O. Key Jr. was a well-respected political theorist known by most for his theory of
critical elections. Dr. Key's theories state that there are times when an election is held
that change the course and direction of the nation directly based on the incumbent's
successes or failures which motivates and activates large groups of new voters to register
and vote. Clearly, 2008 is such an election. It is due is large part to the failures of the
Bush administration with the unpopular war in Iraq, the torturing of American held Iraqi
prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the drowning of America's citizens in New Orleans with an ill
prepared and non responsive federal government all broadcast live on CNN, the fiscally
irresponsible tax cuts and simultaneous escalation of federal spending, lack of regulation
in the banking and credit industries which have resulted in a global economic crisis-- Pick
any failed Bush policy and you will find new horrified voters and volunteers
Dad's early lessons in politics were taught to him in the same patriarchal tradition of the
Kennedys and Cuomos, by his father, John F Clough, Sr. Sr. told young John Jr. to count
the number of signs in his Philadelphia neighborhood for each candidate and he would be
able to predict the winners and losers on Election Day. Dad used his love of politics, his
education, and radio operator experience to become a political commentator for the local
CBS radio and television station in Philadelphia, however, Dad later used more
sophisticated methodology in his predictions, such as random samplings and key precinct
indicators to make his election night predictions
Once he became a political analyst, his days as an activist ended. Having been raised in
predominately Republican areas made his children willing warriors for any cause, we
marched for peace, walked for the hungry, wore black arm bands in parades, cleaned
parks and walked to school on Earth day, and arose early without complaint to witness
the passing of Robert F Kennedy's funeral train.
The Clough Clan continues in their Democratic Party tradition with the addition of all
fourth generation eligible voters to the party rolls. 2008 has revitalized our heritage and
we once again have joined the activist role. The most visible family member on a
mission would be John F Clough III, my brother
John III left the east coast more than 25 years ago to seek his fame and fortune in the
northern land of Alaska, where he became a successful attorney. Over the years his love
of politics was confined to the dinner table and shouting at the television until Super
Tuesday 2008, when he unsuccessfully caucused for Hillary in the Alaskan primary. He,
like me, was a Hill supporter who became an Obama supporter at the end of the primary
On Friday, August 29th ,a tsunami of sorts occurred in John's life, when a press
conference held by the McCain campaign shook John to his core, with their
announcement of his Governor, Sarah Palin, being nominated to be the Vice Presidential
running mate with John McCain. According to John, " Sarah Palin being nominated and
possibly becoming President, embarrassed me as an Alaskan and terrified me as an
American." As his sister, I can tell you he lost his sense of humor and was unable to
speak for at least a week
Then he decided to mobilize, his plan is what he refers to as; "The Obamamobile, The
Alaska Talk Express!"
Three weeks ago, with the supportive Alaskan family waiving goodbye, John, III traveled
the 4000 miles to the birthplace of this nation and his own, Pennsylvania to go on his one
man mission to "let people know not every Alaskan supports Sarah Palin". John's earlier
political experiences included volunteering for Hubert Humphrey in 1968 as a high
school sophomore and in 1976 as a recent college grad; he ran Jimmy Carter's primary
campaign in Lancaster, Pa.
Now, at age 55, Clough decorated his Alaskan plated rat tat 1994 Dodge Colt Caravan
and has been following the McCain/Palin political rallies across Pennsylvania and Ohio.
He is not affiliated with any political group or field office; he is truly a one man show
looking to engage in one on one conversation with anyone interested in talking. On his
first day, altruistically and without a real travel plan, John attempted to enter a Palin
event in Laconia, NH, but was turned away, no ticket = no entry. Lesson learned.
John being a competitor journeyed on with stops across Pennsylvania and Ohio,
including one temporary diversion to Laporte, Pa, where a local auction caught his eye.
He proudly was the winning bidder of a Barbie Dream House that his lovely bride has
If in your travels you see the Obamamobile, please honk or stop to offer your support for
this aging baby boomer. He is running on four hours of sleep a night and when asked
about how is feels with a week to go John confidently proclaims," Great!"
As we spoke on the phone just a few minutes ago, I asked John where he was today. He
had already attended the Obama rally this morning at Widener University near Philadelphia which was held outside in 39 degree weather with pounding rain and strong
winds. According to John," Sen. Obama also withstood the elements and appeared in just
a jacket and offered a rousing empowering speech to us. I am so excited". He was at
that moment driving the Obamamobile through heavy snow just outside of Wilkes Barre
on his way to the McCain /Palin rally scheduled for this evening at Penn State.
Early on November 4th John will be to returning to Alaska on a flight from Boston. He
hopes to sleep on the plane and wants to see the election results from his usual vantage
point; his couch with his family watching their television. He will take away from this
journey many things, a renewed "sense of his east coast family, support of friends and
family, and the opportunity to meet remarkable people".
I am proud to have John as my brother, just as I am proud to have continued our Clough
family tradition of shaping and inspiring the political views and values of our children
and their friends at our kitchen tables. We have inspired them not with rhetoric and sound
bites but with intelligent conversations and involvement in the campaigns. We are the
proud members of a wonderfully intelligent lifelong democratic family, who are not
famous like the Kennedys, Cuomos, and Bushs, but whose family's patriarch used his life
to teach and shape the values of his family, his friends, his students and his community.
He did not live long enough to see this return of core democratic values, but his life's
work and promise lives on for new generations through our children and grandchildren.
His annual pledges to the United Negro College fund paid off as well, with the
emergence of one of the finest political candidates of my lifetime in Senator Barack
Obama, educated in the same tradition as those WWII vets, for that I wish to say, thank
you, John F Cloughs, my community Hero's.