A House Divided – Amanda S. Green
I grew up in a house divided. No, not one where my parents were divorced. Not even one where they stayed together “for the good of the kid” and hated one another. I was lucky there. My parents loved one another and fought to make their marriage work when things got tough. My dad was confident enough in himself that he didn’t feel less of a man when Mom started making more money than he did. Both had good jobs, especially considering they did not go to college.
Despite all that, it was still a house divided. Oh, things were fine except during election years. Presidential election years were the worst. You see, my parents could agree upon everything except – drum roll please – politics.
You wouldn’t know it, looking from the outside in. My parents were of the generation that believed there were two things you didn’t talk about at the dinner table: religion and politics. They were careful about what they said when it came to politics. Unless they knew you well, they pretty much kept their opinions middle-of-the-road. That sometimes meant excusing themselves so they could walk away from a conversation before they said something they shouldn’t.
But, in the privacy of home, we did talk politics. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, my mother and I talked politics and my father talked political party. You see, much as I loved my father and much as I wish he were still alive today, he had one glaring fault. He would vote for anyone who ran on the Democratic ticket.
It’s not his fault. Not really. I’ve mentioned before how Dad grew up in Oklahoma during the Depression. His family, while never destitute – my grandfather always found a way to have at least some food on the table – was never well-off. For much of my father’s youth, it wasn’t close to what we would call middle class. The family, for a while, was split simply because they couldn’t afford to have everyone together.
So they were helped by some of the programs put into place by FDR. That, as well as the constant comments by his family and friends that the country had been saved only thought the actions of Saint Franklin formed his political opinions. As a good Oklahoma Democrat of the time, once he was old enough to vote, he knew his duty. It really was simple. He was to go into the voting booth and vote straight ticket. After all, he had to do all he could to prevent the evil Republicans from taking office. The only time he had to worry about who to vote for was in the primary when there might have been more than one Democrat running.
Mom, on the other hand, had been raised to look at the issues as well as the candidate. What did the candidate place importance on? What was the candidate’s track record? What was his personality like and did she feel like she could trust him?
That approach was also the product of her upbringing. At a time when divorce wasn’t almost as common as marriage, her parents divorced. Her mother, one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, moved the two of them back to Tulsa from Chicago. Nothing surprising there. My grandmother had grown up in Kansas and moved to Oklahoma when she left home. However, my grandmother had grown up at a time when she saw women finally getting the right to vote. Her family, male and female alike, had been active in local and state politics in Kansas and later in Ponca City. Then there was the fact that my grandmother was one of those who never liked being told what to do or how she should think. She taught Mom to look at all the facts and promises – and broken promises – when it came to politics.
Growing up, we never had political signs in our yard or bumper stickers on our cars. There were some discussions when my folks would talk about whether they should vote or not because their votes would simply cancel one another out. In a weird way, I understood what they were saying but it still bothered me. How many people thought like they did? How many people could have been out there voting but not because they thought their spouse or best friend or whoever would simply cancel out their vote?
This was our house when it came to voting until the 1972 election. I was still too young to vote (I may be old but I’m not that old) but I remember that election season. The war in Viet Nam was still going on. Updates from the field were coming in on the nightly news. Protests at home were continuing to grow. But what was so bad – and so very sad – was how our vets were being treated when they returned home. Not that the country cared then.
That election cycle saw George McGovern running as the Democratic candidate for President. My father, who worshipped at the altar of FDR and who thought JFK walked on water and who mourned with the rest of the nation with Robert Kennedy was assassinated, looked at the news in horror. Mom and I knew that particular election cycle would be different for him and for us. Ted Kennedy had been tossed out of the running after Chappaquiddick. Even though Dad didn’t particularly like Teddy, he was still a Kennedy and Dad felt sure he would at least have good advisors. McGovern, for some reason, Dad hated with a passion.
It might have been because of McGovern’s opposition to the war. Dad had been unable to serve in the military but each of his brothers had, serving in World War II, Korea and even in Nam. It might have been because he didn’t trust McGovern to treat the vets as they deserved for serving our country. I’m really not sure. All I know for certain is, for the first time in my life, our household was united politically. My father did not vote straight party ticket. He looked at who was running and, gasp, voted for Richard Nixon for President.
And then spent the rest of his life reminding Mom and me that the only time he voted Republican, the man turned out to be a crook. It didn’t matter to him that Nixon probably was no more corrupt than many of the Democrats he had voted for. Nixon’s biggest problem was that he didn’t have a good team around him and they had hired folks inept enough to be caught and who were willing to talk. Nixon’s other problem was that he had what would never be called a warm personality.
Even so, even though Dad lived to regret his decision to vote for Nixon, I have to wonder how he would look at the race today. I have no doubt he would never agree to support Bernie. Dad might have been a dyed in the wool Democrat but he also believed that you needed to work for what you want. A handout might be needed on occasion but no one should expect the government to support them or give them an education or anything else. I have no doubt that he is spinning in his grave as his beloved Democratic Party moves ever more steadily toward socialist ideals.
As for Clinton? Not only no but hell no. He wouldn’t dismiss her as a candidate because she’s female. Not at all. Where he would look long and hard on her is her history. He hated politicians who went shopping for a district in order to be elected. He would see her move to New York after Bill left the White House as doing just that. But that’s not the only reason he would look long and hard at her.
He would look at the economic feasibility of her plans for the nation. Oh, wait, we haven’t gotten any solid platform from her yet. So he would go back to look at what she advocated while she was First Lady of Arkansas as well as the First Lady of the U. S. He would look at her record as a senator. He would frown and scratch his head and be disappointed by her stands on health care and the military and so much more.
Then there are the e-mails and her actions as Secretary of State. Let’s just say, my father would be irate about her actions, even before Benghazi. The fact she had classified emails on her personal server and cellphone would have sent him into a rage.
Most of all, he would have to wonder how much of an influence Bill would have on her should she be elected. That, as much as anything else, would have him doubting the wisdom of voting for her. He would have no, absolutely no, respect for Bill Clinton. He would have been one of those voices that had called for Clinton’s impeachment even though it would have hurt him to do so. Personal integrity meant everything to my father and he would not see it in either Clinton.
As for Mom, well, she is voicing the same concerns about the Republican candidates so many of the rest of us are. We see Trump running around like the school ground bully and cringe at the thought of how he would act in the Oval Office. The only track record we have to determine how he might act is his business record and, well, that’s sort of an apples and oranges deal. Mom has voiced more than once the concern that, if Congress didn’t work with President Trump, he would make use of executive orders in such a way that every president before him would look like an amateur.
Even though Cruz is our senator, Mom isn’t convinced he is who she should vote for. His record isn’t quite what she would like and, well, she thinks he looks and sounds like a used car salesman. We are both uncomfortable with how he brings religion into the mix – when it looks like it would help him. Still, he has served Texas well, relatively speaking. The downside to him is he isn’t particularly known for working well with others.
Then there’s Rubio. He’s the candidate Mom hasn’t figured out. We both agree that, if Dad were alive, he would probably vote for Rubio. Marco is more center of the road, by a little at least, than the other two, but that isn’t saying much. Then there’s the fact he has little chance of getting the nomination. Like Kasich, who is Mom’s preferred choice, a vote for Rubio is basically a vote against Trump.
And that, it seems, is what a lot of those voting in the Republican primaries who aren’t supporting Trump are doing. It isn’t that they really support the other candidates as much as they can’t vote for Trump. The Donald might claim that he is uniting the party and bringing in more voters but is he really? How long has it been since either party has been as divided as the Republicans are today? How many of these so-called new voters are actually Democratic cross-overs, voting for Trump because they think it will be easier to defeat him than anyone else (or who realize that, if he were to be elected, he is closer to their own ideology than Cruz or any of the others)?
And so, instead of my own personal house divided, we now have a larger house divided. How it will be resolved waits to be seen. Trump hasn’t yet wrapped up the nomination. Sanders continues to stun on occasion on the Democratic side of things. It isn’t going to be an easy ride or a fun one between now and November. All I can say for sure is that we had all better buckle up and hold on.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. To each of those who have said they will leave the country if so-and-so wins, well, I hope you do so. Anyone who has so little love for this country doesn’t deserve to live here. Go try out those countries you think are better than ours. For me, I love this country and it is worth fighting for.