Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Think My Dad Might Be a Republican

My father is upset that Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker of the House. In the past few years he and I have grown further and further apart politically and it scares me. When I talk politics with Dad I often come away feeling sad about the prospects for the future of the country. If the two of us can’t agree what hope is there for people who don’t even know each other? I don’t just love my father, I respect him. I often find myself wishing I could be more like him, he is logical, reliable, smart, charming, and confident. He is also turning into a republican and I constantly feel like I have to defend him (or lie about his political leanings…). I find myself telling friends that he’s really smart and a great person who loves puppies and children and totally does not want to make rules about your sexuality or kill all the Arabs. I’m shocked that such a great guy could vote for people that seem so misguided (I’m working really hard at not calling them evil since I want to seem reasonable…). I’m fairly certain that dad used to be a dirty liberal – he certainly dressed like one – and I’m not sure what brought about his swing to the right.

The truly baffling thing is that Dad doesn’t seem very conservative. He’s pro choice and pro separation of church and state. He’s not at all religious and he’s not a rich guy. He cooks dinner at least half of the time and recently baked an apple pie (see? TOTALLY not evil!). (Aside: so it’s possible there are great guys out there who are Republicans. This probably means I’m just destined to meet one, fall in love and end up having these same arguments for the rest of my life. Damn you fate.) I think he’s even a bit of an environmentalist (Hi Dad! I’ll pause here while you try to stop laughing…). He has a deep love for the country. My parents own land in a remote area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains which they run off to at any opportunity. He spends two weeks in Alaska each year and always comes back in awe of the wilderness. His weekends are full of hikes and horseback rides and fishing trips. He lives closer to the land than anyone else I know. He doesn’t want any of these places to disappear.

The things that anger me most about the Republican Party are not typically issues that my father agrees with the republicans on – he just doesn’t really care about them. I am angry because I do not think the government should tell me who to love or when to have a baby or who my god should be. I am angry because I do not think the government should hide or lie about scientific facts in an effort to promote Christianity. I am angry because I do not think the richest 1% of Americans deserve a tax break.

Dad seems to easily fixate on one issue. In 2000 he voted for Bush because he was afraid that if Gore was elected he would no longer be allowed to drive through the national forest to access the land he owns in the mountains. I don’t know if this was likely to happen but it seems silly that this was his primary concern. He thinks Pelosi will outlaw all guns. I don’t know much about her gun voting record but I’m generally in favor of handgun controls and waiting periods and fewer guns in general. I don’t know why this bothers Dad so much – he hunts but he doesn’t own a hand gun and I can’t think of any instances of deer hunting gun shortages that would require he get a new gun RIGHT NOW.

Today my side gets to win (Eat it Dad!) which makes me happy but I’d be happier if it didn’t feel like we are all engaged in some sort of values civil war. I try to remind myself that not everyone who disagrees with me is wrong, on the good days Dad serves as a proof of this. I am trying very hard to put a positive spin on the ending of this post but it is very difficult. I am not able to reconcile my respect for my father with his ambivalence toward so many issues that matter to me. I don’t think everything about the current republican party is evil but I do think much of it’s current agenda is trying to mandate personal choices and force religion on people and I strongly believe that this is wrong.

1 comment:

themikestand said...

I know you were having a tough time writing this, so I think it's important that I tell you that you did it excellently.

I'll leave you with these three thoughts:
1. "Eat it Dad!"? has got to be the funniest thing I've heard in a long time.
2. It sounds to me that you haven't lost respect for him, but that you respect him for making informed decisions about what matters to him at election time. It's unfortunate that the two-party system in the US won't afford any subversive progress.
3. "A young man who isn't a liberal, has no heart. An old man who isn't conservative, has no brains." --Winston Churchill