A few days ago, I was having lunch and discussing the merits of good parenting with a former co-worker; he of serious progressive dispositions. After much bellowing as to how his kids "better not ever THINK about voting Republican as long they are under my roof" (or words to that effect), I went back to my corner office with a view of nearby U.S. Highway 101, and a jovial, yet evil smile formed in my otherwise handsome facade.
(soft music intro in the background)....
I can imagine one of the conversations between said Father and his 14-year old Son, to go something like this:
Son: "Dad, why are you a liberal?"
Dad: "Why?.... Its in my blood Son, and in your blood,... and the blood of any self-respecting and enlightened American to be of left-wing persuation. I am a liberal because of the legacy of FDR and because I believe the State has a duty and responsibility to care for the needs of its citizens, no matter how trivial or large. Everything, schooling, health, medicine,.. the whole Magilla. We get taxed up the butt, so Government should care for our butts after taxing us as well. To think any other way is to be a selfish capitalist who only believes in his own good, and not in the good of the collective..."
Son: "So.... is that the best system we have? or is that that best system YOU chose to vote for?"
Dad: "It's not a "system" Sparky! its a way of life. To live a liberal life it to care for those less fortunate than you, to open your arms to the weak, sick and hungry, to give freely so that those more needy than you can have a better Day. To be a liberal is to take from those who have, and give it to those who don't. A kinder, gentler way of socialism..." (grinnin')
Son: "Ok,...I guess I don't know why you rolled up the car window so fast when that homeless guy came up to us at the stop light..... but anyways, is being a liberal a better choice then?"
Dad: (clearing the throat... ) Well, about the homeless guy,... I did not want to endanger you or your Mom, Son. you never know who is passing as opressed nowadays,... besides, the guy behind me was rolling down HIS window so I knew he was getting something.... (laughs uncomfortably) ....... but let me explain this to ya'... Choice is the pre-eminent word in our beliefs. We are the better choice of culture, we are pro-choice for keeping a woman's right to choose, we are a better choice to give the poor and dis-enfranchised a better choice for gettin' back on their feet, ... yes Son, its about choices"
Son: " So... , if I chose to say vote Green, or libertarian, .... or Republican, especially after hearing your pimpin' of the liberal way, you would say that would be ok, since it was my choice, right Dad?,... and speaking of choices, does the unborn fetus get a choice to live or die in the opinion of Roe V Wade or is this a selective type of choice?"....
Dad: (chuckles in a condescending way...) "well, lets not get ahead of ourselves kiddo, you've a long way to go before you are of age to vote and intelligent enough to make such a choice on voting, for that matter.
As to Roe V Wade, well that is a very complicated issue there...., the fetus is just a bunch of molecules and cells held together in the amniotic sack,... it is not a "person", its a, er,... a soon-to-be-human, you know?, and as such is not protected by the laws of the land.., and who taught you about abortions anyway......?"
Son: "But Dad, if choice is so important, why did you get upset last year when NPR was considering adding conservative-based programming?... after all, most of their programs are pretty progressive, no?"...
Dad: (shift unconfortably in the lazy-boy...) "That was a blatant attempt by that pin-headed G.O.P.-installed FCC Commisioner to interfere with an independent publicly-financed institution. Public Radio is fine the way it is, why the hell should they be another Clear Channel dangit! NPR is as fair and balanced a media as we have in this County! "...
Son: "Ok, what about your Union dues Dad, I don't see those going to support anybody but liberal candidates... what if I were in a Union and wanted the CHOICE to give my dues to somebody else. Can't I have a say in that?"
Dad: "Thats different Son, you have to trust that ol' Hoffa Jr. knows what is best for us. God knows that man has seen his share of travails and hardships. He is fighting for you, for me, for our American Manufacturing, he is......."
Son: "... but Dad, you just bought a Toyota!..."
Dad: "Again, a choice Son. I though saving the planet and the environment by getting a better fuel-efficient car was the price to pay for my beliefs. Besides, its built in Ohio, and we need to keep those Buckeye Union members employed, don't we Sparky?"
Son: "Hmmm well the Chevy something or another has better mileage than your Camry, .... but what about Education, Pops?... what if say you decided that the Teacher's Union here in Coulterhateville was doing a crappy job at hiring the best teachers at our district? and that the school could not fire the worst ones, you now, -like most companies can fire someone who does not produce the expected results would?-,... what if say, Charter schools, home-schooling and vouchers were presented as choices to all Americans so WE could decide what is best for our needs,... would that not be good?"
Dad: (developing a zit at the tip of the nose...) "Look Boy, there is NOTHING wrong with Teacher's Unions; nothing at all! They can handle their own, believe me. The ONLY way to have a one-America, a consistent education for all kids -legal AND undocumented-, a better way to prepare the youths for the challenges of a global economy is for all of us to pool our resources under one banner and make the U.S. Education system the best in the planet; and that is something that without Unions we could never do. Do you honestly believe we can leave the choice of education to un-educated parents? to Christians and other right-wing Bible thumpers?, to care-takers of special-need kids?, ... to Republicans? God forbid, to Libertarians?......, C'mon Son, who is putting all these moon-baty ideas in your head?, Have you been listening to Glen Beck again?..."
Son: "No one Dad,..... (thinking...),... well, to be honest, I think I'm getting them from you, Pops...."
Dad: (bouncing from the lazy-boy and kneeling next to Sparky) "From me? (horror look on face), how did that happen? I thought you were my little liberal-in-training?... what did I do wrong?..."
Son: ... "Dad, nothing... you did nothing wrong. But did you not tell me to think for myself? I though you said I should never follow the herd and make my own way in life no matter what I was up against!.... isn't choice universal Dad? Why should freedom of choice be for abortions but not for education?, or health coverage?, or even Goverment policy? I think that by listening to both sides of any issue gives me the best opportunity for making the best choices for me, don't you think? Did you not say critical thinking is..... well, critical?"
Dad: "Of course I do,... well uh, to a certain extent, as long as it doesn't interfere with the code of Liberalism, Son. But as a Father I have a moral duty to guide you to that which best represents what I view in life as right, as righeous, as sensible for all,... but especially for you, for you!... , don't you see that the needs of the many sometimes outweighs the needs of the few?.... or the one?"
Son: "Dad, I heard that line from Spock in Star Trek V or something, but anyways,... look, I'm sorry you are upset. I will try to get a better understanding of your perpective. I know you love me and all you want to do is guide me to the right path. Don't think I see your thoughts as dichotomous, .... I know there isn't a hypocritical bone in your body........ I love you Dad! (beaming with pride)...
Dad: "Thanks son, I love you too (misty eyed), .... and I appreciate the vote of confidence in me. Dichotomous,... wow!, nice use of the word, Kiddo! where'd you pick that up?"
Son: (sheepishly) "er.... the Sean Hannity Show........"
(fade to black,... as Dad twitches on the hardwood floor.....)