Tuesday, September 7, 2010


My parents are life long Republicans.  I remember when I was in high school and the war in Vietnam was raging, I would try to discuss politics, my point of view and be berated by my father for no having enough life experience to form an informed opinion.  I read the same newspapers he did.  We read Newsweek magazine and viewed the same news programs and yet took different things from them.  I frequently left the table in tears of frustration from his attacks because I knew I was informed and yet he dismissed and mocked me.

Over the year I learned to simply not discuss politics with my parents. I just did not engage when they brought things up, I walked softly around their opinions.  During the Clinton years our family thrived economically, especially my parents.  Yet he insisted on calling President Clinton Bubba and constantly had negative comments about him.  He refused to acknowledge that the improvements of his business or anything else could be related to the 8 years of a Democratic presidency.

When we gathered for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary it was just a week after Bush manipulated our country and invaded Iraq.  I paid a lot of attention to the build up of that invasion.  I watched the testimony, I read a lot.  I just KNEW what they were dishing out was not real.  My instinct told me that it was all about Bush Jr. wanting to go after the guy Bush Sr. didn't get.  It was personal.  I also knew enough about the middle east to know that if we were not in and out like Bush Sr. was back in his day,  that it could easily become a quagmire like Vietnam.

We were all gathered for a dinner preceding the big anniversary event, my dad at the head of the table said something about Bush and Iraq and 9/11.  I said Iraq had nothing to to with 9/11 and that I felt more threatened by our government than I did by Iraq.  (Okay - I had had a few cocktails and was not treading lightly at that moment.)  My mother said something like "I must be one of those  idiots who thinks it was about the oil."

I said I think it was about revenge.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the country was being sold a pack of  lies.  I also said that I'd be damned if they were going to get hold of my son and daughter to send to their wars because it was all going to be like another Vietnam going on for years and years.

My dad went ballistic and ordered me out of his house, I had to eat humble pie and apologise (which I did, for disrupting their anniversary.)   The fact that I was right has never been acknowledged directly to me.  My mother admitted it to one of my sisters.  So back to ignoring their comments and the stuff they send to my e-mail and that they watch Fox "News" and seem to get crazier ans crazier.

Now my mom, who actually seemed to have had a period of clarity and voted for Obama, is after us to read Sarah Palin's book.  (As if Sarah Palin actually wrote her book...)  When my sister refused my mother said that she and I like to "keep our heads in the sand."  When my sister pointed out that watching Fox "News" isn't exactly getting the big picture, she said they also read "liberal" newspapers. 

Doesn't that just say it all?  Now if it isn't sanctioned by the right - it is "liberal."  Their local Palm Desert paper, the San Francisco and Los Angeles papers, the New York Times, all "liberal."  Apparently after taking Newsweek for 50 years they don't anymore because it is "liberal" now.  They refuse to accept that they are being lied to even when I send articles countering the articles they send me.

The point of this long, long rant is  this - these are two educated people.  My mom supports gay marriage and is pro-choice.  They are not overly religious, though my dad has recently reverted back to his childhood Catholicism.  They have jumped on this "populist" bandwagon and it bothers me, it scares me. 

This meanness and blatent disregard for truth and cooperation on the part of the Republican Party, mimics my parent's lifelong behavior.  Maybe I should not be so shocked?

It also makes me really mad that at 56, better educated, better read and with more experience of the world, my opinions and point of view are still dismissed as ruthlessly as those I had when I was 16.


knittergran said...

We were regularly kicked out of my inlaw's house. My f-i-l was REALLY right wing...not well informed...but right wing. It is getting scary-I just heard a statement from the pastor in FL who is going to burn the Koran on 9/11---he is not backing down at all, in spite of the warnings about harm to the military.
Scary and scarier every day.

hokgardner said...

It must be hard to have such a chasm like that within a family.

Fortunately, I fall on the same side of the political fence as my parents, who are probably even more screamingly liberal than I am.

But I don't discuss politics with my husband's family. Ever

Anonymous said...

I have some relatives like that and I've learned that I just cannot change their way of thinking, so I don't even try.

Like you, I'm appalled by the way a lot of people are "thinking" in this country. Getting one's news from Fox is not sufficient if one wants to be informed and educated. Sigh...

Lisa said...

How frustrating. I'm really sorry, Susan. This is just one of those things that makes me want to scream. Instead, I clamp my mouth shut and do nothing. Because it wouldn't help anyway, would it?

michiganme said...

How frustrating it must be to be a part of that. My family and I don't share the same political views at all, yet we enjoy the discussion. I love intelligent difference of opinion that doesn't disintegrate into insults & bullying. But then no one in my extended family watches Fox News because as my conservative mom says, "they're all acting".

Tricia said...

I think, in general, people are looking for simple answers to complex issues. The far right gives really simple answers "all liberals - bad, unamerican! BTW what the heck does that mean "Unamerican" and "Patriotic".
What the media does not give people is indepth, intelligent discourse from knowledgable sources that can discuss things calmly. All the media want is Jerry Springer style shouting back and forth. That is not a debate that enlightens.

Nancy said...

HI Susan,
Well I doubt we can do anything to change their approach to polotics and to get some respect for our OWN thoughts on the subject. Guess I'll have to dust off my "do not discuss polotics at the family gathering" sign and hang it back on the front door when they come by. Some things will never change. Bryan says I need to let it go and not let it get me so rilled up. :)
He says we overreact.HMMM

Trash said...

How does that old saw go? Something along the lines of 'not discussing religion and politics in public'.

I'm all for open discussion so long as we can all agree to be friends once we finish arguing.