Calling Mr. RepublicanSeptember 24th, 2009 © by Susan Swartz
I put in a call to Mr. Republican. That would be my late father, V. Paul, or Victor Paul. I’d like him to sit in his chair in my living room and talk politics. The wingback’s been in the family for three generations and what he was sitting in when he died of a heart attack while watching the Today show more than 20 years ago in Pennsylvania.
I’m ready for a talk with a life-long proud member of the GOP. V. Paul loved being a Republican and gave me an “I Like Ike” pin when I was little. I sure did like my dad so I wore the pin although it didn’t turn me into a Republican.
I wonder if my dad and Ike know that Susan Eisenhower, the late president’s Republican granddaughter campaigned for Obama. She worried that the political environment was being taken over by angry, noisy extremists. That was over a year ago, in a relatively civilized time before town meetings, Washington marches and presidential addresses turned into a hate-it, hate-him blood sport.
(Speaking of mood swings, I can’t believe it was only this spring I wrote about Americans becoming less rancorous. Boy, did my inner Pollyanna speak too soon.)
But back to V. Paul. I’d liked to ask my dad why he thinks other rational, smart and compassionate Republicans like himself would allow gun-toting fear-mongers to take over their party and foul its legacy. I know there are radicals on both sides but where’s the conservative balance?
Are there no Republicans who cringe when they see this craziness being committed in their name?
I think back to last October when John McCain stood up to the screamers in Minnesota to reassure a woman that Obama was a decent family man and there was no reason to fear him. It reminded me why even some Democrats once thought McCain might make a good president. But the crowd booed McCain. They didn’t want to hear any respectful words about Obama, and that seemed to end it for any high profile Republican daring to set a gracious example.
Too bad. It’s a fine American tradition to disagree. My dad and I used to argue each other’s ideas at the dinner table until he’d finally declare a halt, saying “We’re upsetting your mother.”
I don’t want to demonize Republicans. I don’t want to stereotype them as the No Party. But I don’t get why they give a pass to the rowdy, rude and sometimes racist crowd who seem bent on scaring America.
I don’t believe that all Republicans are out to punish the poor and immigrants and think anyone who needs government help is a deadbeat. But why are there no leaders telling their people to keep it civil and if they want respect to leave the damn guns at home?
My dad and I would certainly disagree over the government taking on health care for all. One of his first jobs was selling insurance in Pittsburgh. The first time I ever heard the term “socialized medicine” was from him. As for Afghanistan and Iraq, it would be the same arguments we had over Vietnam.
But V. Paul argued in a rational, educated way. He didn’t care for coarse vulgar people.
He’d think anyone shouting “you lie” to the president of the United States was pretty much a jackass.
My dad believed that America was the greatest country and the Republican party truly grand but I’d love to know, from his vantage point, if he still thinks that.
Sit down, Dad. We need some help down here.