“In every dispute between parent and child, both cannot be right, but they may be, and usually are, both wrong. It is this situation which gives family life its peculiar hysterical charm.”
–Isaac Rosenfeld

“Speaking of mashed potatoes, Obama…”

“No, no, no, no, nah nah nah NAH!!!  Clock it, Mom.  We made it 17.4 minutes before President Obama joined us for dinner.  New record.”

What is that saying about how it is impolite to discuss religion and politics at the table?  I’m on the same page religion-wise with my parents.  In fact, I love talking about our relationship with God, as it brings us closer together. 

Politics seems to have the opposite impact nowadays, and I feel serious political discussions should be avoided altogether for the sake of familial harmony.  So, when my parents, let’s narrow this down, DAD wants to talk about the presidential election, I have to stop him.  Dead in his tracks.  Sometimes he gets as much out as “O” before I know where it’s going.  I’ll find anything to distract.  From food to what that cloud looks like (I’ve been desperate).

Our political views have diverged a bit.  I’m more in the center of the political spectrum, Dad is a good 26,814 miles to the right of me.  How did this happen?

I was raised in a very political home.  Politics everywhere.  Mom was a chairwoman of the Republican Party, organizing events.  As a child, I remember it as a blur of Mom, red, white and blue, and “GOP.”  Buttons, buttons, buttons.  So…many…bumper stickers!  I don’t think I knew what GOP stood for until I was in my teens!  All I knew is that even though I couldn’t vote, the candidate my parents backed was the one that had my FULL support.  Which for me meant not complaining to much about attending all the meetings, and plastering my shirts and sweaters with stickers.   As vehemetly Republican as we sounded, my parents were never straight ticket voters.  They took their time learning about candidates and their positions.  That is what I took from them, even though I have left the elephant stickers at the family home. 

One candidate, unquestionably, was always the best person for the job. Dad.  Dad spent 44 years in law enforcement, and many a time in an elected position.   Wow, I remember the smell of spray paint for the yard signs, door-to-door campaigning, debates, parades, meetings, more meetings and speeches. I can even feel the bumper sticker glue on my fingers when I remember those times.  Dad won many, lost a few.  He always said, “You don’t demand respect, you earn it.”  And he was a man not of empty promises but of action and his compassion for others is still so immense that it baffles me.  Somehow genetically engineered by God for public service, my Dad was the best for the job every time.  Disagree with me?  I  have a fist waiting for your face. 

So, outside of Dad, there hasn’t been a candidate that I would follow to the ends of the earth.  I look at who best aligns with my way of thinking.  I’m not a liberal, not conservative.  I’m a voting American. 

When I go home to visit my parents, FOX News is on…all the time.  They wake up to it, and they fall asleep with it on, leaving me to theorize that they are hypnotized in the middle of the night.  The constant flood of conservative pundits pulling my parents farther and farther to the right while they sleep!  When Dad brings up national political news, my eyes bug out of my head, and when I rebut, his eyes do the same thing.  We can’t debate we are so baffled with each other. We just start words without finishing them and stare at each other with our mouths agape.   But if we talk about his role in the community, in local politics, I can see that Dad still doesn’t follow party lines, he follows his beliefs.  And for that, in the realm of politics we usually disagree in, he has earned my respect, not just as his kid but as a voting adult. 

With our differences in political opinion, my father and I handle it the same way we handle most things – a sense of humor.  I send Dad Obama cards for every holiday.  He chuckles when I scream, “Don’t talk about politics at the TABLE!!!”

When he talks about how great Sarah Palin is, and I recite my sonatas on President Obama, we look at each other and laugh.  During this presidential election, I will prepare a list of diversions and buy my Obama shirt solely for my visit home, as I’m sure he will have at the ready every possible segway to Obama.  Because I mean, mashed potatoes, you automatically think of Obama’s spending, right?

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