12 Jun

A break from global politics to family politics today. I was one of the fortunate kids with a good father. I often think of what he would say about the world today. It is really not so different from the one he first deciphered with me. He was a strong Republican;on the local Republican Central Committee. One of his best friends since childhood was Rep. John Ashbrook, a very conservative Republican. Another childhood friend he remained close to his entire life was the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. This openness to diverse political thought worked just fine back in Dad’s day. Dad was a die-hard republican but he could listen to another point of view. He would make jokes about the other guy “talking like a guy with a paper hat”; but, he would later affirm the “guy might have something there”. He always told me to find a union job which would offer the greatest job security, protection, and best work environment. He was self-employed and could not imagine working for anyone else without a union. Today, his party is intent on destroying unions. Times have changed. I don’t know if dad would have changed to fit the party but I doubt it. He would have told his party it was “talking like a man with a paper hat”. I still don’t know the origins of that phrase,but I get its meaning.

It was understood and Dad imparted to me that all politicians, and all attorneys, are “crooks”; always have their hands out for a donation, or in your pocket for taxes. He told me whenever another’s behavior confused me to “follow the money” and all would be made clear. Still, politics was the core of the community and important stuff according to Dad. He suggested I attend both the Teenage Republicans and Teenage Democrats,both led by friends of his, to see how each party  operated. He encouraged me to visit Congressman Ashbrook when he held week-end office hours at the  Licking County court house and confront his support for Rhodesia even though it practiced apartheid. He knew his friend would deal with the concerns of a fledgling Democrat as equally important to the concerns of a Republican constituent.

In his later years, as he saw the benefit of Democrtically supported programs such as PELL grants, equal pay for women, voting rights, Title VII and Title IX, social security, medicare, disability benefits, unemployment compensation etc.his view of political theory mellowed. His view of politicians did not. He thought the crook Nixon deserved what he got, thought Reagan behaved wrongly and owed the nation an apology for the Iran-Contra Affair, thought Bill Clinton was a sleazy womanizer (most men in power are) but not deserving of  impeachment. By today’s standards he would be a liberal Republican and that description would absolutely enrage him. He prided himself on his conservatism, and voted for John Kennedy, even though “his old man made his money as a bootlegger”. He never asked anyone except the VA for anything. His first reaction to any liberal suggestion was opposition until we discussed it more fully and he could then see some value in the program or policy. Like most hard working small business owners, he had little spare time to research anything on his own, but was willing to learn and change when facts were brought to his attention. He was not an ideologue. He was man who believed most persons could make it on their own.

He also acknowledged some could not. Quietly, anonymously, he helped those people. Sometimes, he thought he could do it better than government. Most other times, he acknowledged government could do it better. He understood the benefits and limitations of government. He held government accountable. That is a true conservative.

We seldom agreed on political theory, and seldom disagreed in political practice. Most moderates are like that. They can see the good in both sides, and the bad in both sides. They want what works for the country. How I miss my dad, those old style Republicans, those moderate voices of reason who could laugh, live, love and work together with Democrats.

On this Fathers’ Day I hope you will recall your own father kindly, if he is no longer with you. And, if he is, let him know how much his wise counsel has meant to you. If we can’t find common ground with our own fathers, how can we hope to find common ground with anyone? There are those who will try to stop an approachment, who do not want Republicans and Democrats to find common ground with one another. Such Tea Party types like “a good fight” better than peacemaking. Ignore them. Have a happy  Fathers’ Day. I’ll be thinking of my conservative, Republican dad. I share my poem with you below:


Louise Annarino

Fathers’ Day 2012

Those laughing eyes

and strong hands

which fashioned safety

from the strands

of life

which too often looked

like a cage

but was nothing more

than a ladder

one could climb

on his lap

where every problem

could be left

in his care

so all consuming

which too often felt

like loss of self

but was nothing more

than a cushion

against hard knocks

he absorbed

with his own body

to protect

his children with

a father’s love.


One Response to “DADDY”

  1. Anne Weideman June 19, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Sounds like a cool dude, and a type of person we rarely see these days. More’s the pity.

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