As a freshman in high school, I was excited but blissfully naive to the gravity of the situation. I got to leave school and join my dad while he campaigned in New Hampshire. I remember riding around in the “Straight Talk Express” with reporters — some who became household names (looking at you, Jake Tapper). I heard Chuck Berry’s “Go Johnny Go,” my father’s campaign song, blasted more times than I could count at each rally.
I also remember the harder, darker moments – Karl Rove’s notorious whisper campaigns about my adopted sister Bridget. Having my hypothetical abortion discussed on television and in newspapers because of my father’s response to a reporter’s question about what he would do if I became pregnant. I couldn’t focus in school and started performing badly in my classes because it seemed like every five seconds, someone would bring up my father. For the first time in my life, I was treated differently by both my classmates and teachers.
The experience strengthened my patriotism and love of America. But it was also terrifying. Ultimately, politicians and their families don’t belong to themselves. They belong to the media, and they’re often eviscerated and torn apart. Anything and everything you have done or will do will be held against you, scrutinized, and possibly held up for late-night fodder. Your clothes, your more colorful extended family members, the way you talk, if you’re too edgy, if you aren’t edgy enough, what music you listen to, where you live, who you hang out with.