Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yes, Dad was a a first-class Republican

I'M SURE THAT my late father would have been among the folks who have created so many front-runners in the Iowa Republican marathon. Depending on the day of the week and what he might have heard on the 6 o'clock news, he would have felt comfortable supporting whoever was "surging" in the polls at the moment.

Yes, Dad was a Republican like so many others in our extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. You know the kind. But for this glimpse of the political loyalities of the clan, I would caution you that I can only guess why Dad was a Republican. (Mom was different: She could never give me a clear answer on how she voted, and didn't think it was all that important anyway. She had things to do in the kitchen.)

For Dad, it was doubtless class consciousness, even though he never belonged to a country club, nor would he, a modest car salesman and grease monkey, have been invited to join one. For him, Republicans represented a better class of people, certainly better than Democrats. He believed that telling people that you were a Republican was the first step in approaching wider public approval. There was no point in trying to change his mind. He knew Republicans in our hometown and they all seemed to be doing a lot better than those fellows who trudged home from the coal mines each day.

He hated the Kennedys, which seemed to be a conversation gambit when a noisy quorum met in our living room. It was Kennedy this and Kennedy that, and the press coverup of Chappaquiddick.(He read every report in the local papers.) Meanwhile, Some of the family elders complained that they didn't make the long journey from the Old Country to be victimized by Washington's wasteful tax-hungry Democrats .

Fortunately, when another tall pot of coffee was being brewed, they would summon me to play the piano so that they could sing away their blues. On some evenings, they assembled in Uncle Alec's kitchen and with little prodding, he would leap from his chair, click his fingers and dance with a knee-bending motion through several rooms. I admired his energy, doubtless fortified by a half-dozen cups of strong coffee. This particular Uncle Alec - there were three in the family - had been a free-spirited steel worker and cared little about politics. There were also four Georges, each with a different surname. And three Abes! It could get confusing and led to some other issues. But that's another story.

My father's political convictions led to tense moments with his only son. He had seen some of my liberal writings in a magazine and could not believe how far I had strayed.. By then he had locked in as a Reaganite and somehow blamed Democrats for trying to abolish his Medicare.

There's a lot of this happening on the path to the Iowa caucuses. If he were alive today, Dad quite likely would be rooting for all of the candidates to win on Tuesday (Maybe not Romney!) It was time to defeat Barack Obama before he ended Medicare and Social Security. Not that the liberal media would ever tell you that.


David Hess said...

Like your father, my mother was a rock-ribbed Republican who would vote a straight-party line no matter who was waving the GOP banner. A first-generation shanty Irish girl, whose parents both came separately from Ireland in the 19th Century, Mom was one of nine children left fatherless by the Spanish flu epidemic and raised in poverty before Social Security was enacted, yet clung to the hope of someday reaching the upper rungs of society by brandishing her fealty to the Republican Party. It was a mindless dream, of course, since the Republicans of that era, as now, professed but never actually put into practice an allegiance to trickle-down economics. Instead, they feel, now as then, that money amassed, or inherited, is not really to be shared with the masses nor taxed by an intervening government. Mom appreciated her Social Security and Medicare, and somehow believed that she owed gratitude for that to the GOP despite its long-standing opposition to such welfare-state schemes. It was a misguided illusion she carried to the grave and nothing said to change her mind ever registered.

Grumpy Abe said...

Where did you and I go wrong?