Jolted by an arrested adolescence, Manfred Schmidt is a lonely teenager who craves for belonging and respect. His unconscious rage and forming identity are fused together at a time when a new leader is offering hope to a troubled, post-Watergate nation. He takes on Jimmy Carter as his hero, offering hope to his evolving self. Set in the suburbs of Washington DC, Ireland, Boston and New Hampshire, the story is about Manfred's foibles as he journeys through high school, a semester at college and a stint working in Carter's re-election campaign. Even though Carter's political journey ends in failure, the impact of his brief venture into American politics leaves a lasting influence on his emotional development.
The underdog has a particular appeal to Americans. American society is defined and influenced by concerns about equality and fairness. It is also troubled by discrimination, persecution, and injustice—persistent reminders that many core American ideals fall short of reality. This unease is expressed through sympathy and empathy and is often played out on the stage of American politics.
Moreover, there is a process appeal of underdogs as well; Americans love a good game. Rooting for the team, person, party, or company that is perceived to be behind in a contest is exciting. If ideals interrelate with the contest, all the better: thought and emotion combine to produce political dramas.
The reader may ask: Why the Democratic Party? I believe, as a party, it best represents the history, culture, and interests of underdogs in American politics. The ideology of the majority of Democrats is still some strand of liberalism, however hidden by employing the linguistic turn of “progressive.” Liberals have historically fought for the “little guy” (no sexism intended)—the person who does not have much money, power, or resources to better his or her lot in life. Democrats have also stood up for groups that have been historically discriminated against in law and practice: most notably, the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, gays and the disabled.