scholars and rogues

"You're not really voting for John McCain, are you, Mom?"

With the election two days away, I’m wondering how many Scholars & Rogues readers suffer from Archie Bunker syndrome. That is, does someone close to you — mother, father, sister, brother — hold political beliefs diametrically opposed to you?

Does it poison your relationship and create a wall between you and him and her? How do you continue to carry on a relationship? Are you especially resentful because that person’s beliefs — and choice in the presidential election — seem the product of ignorance?

Kindly respond in the comments section.

25 replies »

  1. I assumed that my mother, an old school staunch feminist, would be one of the disgruntled Clinton supporters. So i was surprised when my inbox started receiving links to articles praising Obama. I was even more surprised to learn that the Obama sign on their front lawn had been stolen…not that it had been stolen but that they had put out a sign. It’s never happened before. Moreover, my mother has always refused to even say who she voted for after the fact; this year it’s been Obama, Obama, Obama.

    It seems that the junior Senator from Illinois has reignited the old radical flame in my ma, which is refreshing because she seemed to have divorced herself from even thinking seriously about politics and the state of the world. Maybe she’d lost hope and now she’s found it again.

    I know, this wasn’t the example you were looking for Russ, but i think i’ve been wanting to share it because it excites me to have my old mom back…the one who taught me to question authority, the one who told me to “never let the damned pigs into my car”.

    On the other hand, my biological father (who i’m not at all close to) is almost certainly voting for McCain…and probably because Obama is “black”. He threatened as much during the primaries. While the ignorance bothers me, i move on…after all, there are reasons that i’m not very close to him.

  2. My mom is a 79 year old retired school bus driver who has been a staunch republican for as long as I’ve been around and then some. She is also a very active member of the christian faith and up until the RNC she was definitely voting for McCain. After he selected Palin and Palin gave her speech at the RNC my mother stated she was unsure if she was going to vote for McCain because Palin worried her. As she has done further watching and listening she is now not only voting for Obama she called to make sure I was to. Remember she is a very active christian but her comment to me was that if Palin ever became president we could basically kiss separation of state and religion goodbye and to her that is unacceptable. Gota love it when a Wackjob Zealot drives the real christians away from the right.

  3. I have a batch of normally Republican uncles – voted Republican all their lives, voted for Bush 43 twice – voting Obama. It’s actually rather scary. The best part is most of them cite Palin as the reason for the switch. I have an uncle roughly McCain’s age who also served in the Navy whose voting against McCain because he is McCain’s age.

  4. I am the only liberal minded person in my ENTIRE family. Whenever I bring up politics it gets brushed away very quickly like I never said a thing. They then start talking about babies or television. It’s rough.

  5. Geoff–When in the company of my in-laws I find myself steering the conversation to babies and television for the same reason! I will adamantly argue with my own parents, who are also conservative, but I feel more secure with them and also find them to be more reasonable generally. What I find most frustrating when talking to my in-laws is that the ignorance is deliberate. They don’t WANT to know anything, and they say so in precisely those terms. My in-laws, young and old, are one-issue voters–and that issue, of course, is abortion. The fact that the staunchly anti-abortion president that has been in office for eight years has not overturned Roe v. Wade is irrelevant to them. It is not so much that they believe that an anti-abortion president will result in changing abortion law. It is that they believe that they are committing a sin if they vote for a pro-choice candidate. And they believe that my husband and I are following the path of Satan when we vote for Obama. I am not exaggerating. My fil has expressed fear for the state of our souls. The dichotomy of Republican/Christian and Democrat/non-Christian governs their perception of politics, they cannot conceive of morality outside of Christianity. Democrat=non-Christian and non-Christian=evil.

  6. Sarah,

    you in-laws would have serious issues classifying me then. I’m a registered republican and a non-christian. (I already voted for Obama this election even as a republican).

  7. I come from a family of people who can talk themselves into all kinds of silliness, I fear. I try to be as productive as I can, but when people base voting decisions on things that are factually false, and when they find a way to believe cynical lies, well, sometimes we have to speak directly. My family hasn’t always liked what I’ve had to say, but they also know, from long experience, that when they debate me they’re going to be asked to defend what they believe. And they know that I’m not going to be quiet about stupidity.

    Of course, my family dynamic isn’t like most people’s, I realize. I get away with things that would create real problems elsewhere. I’m the oldest son and the only one who pursued an education, and I spend a lot of time trying to understand things in some detail. All of which means that in a Southern working class environment, I have a lot of traditional heft in my corner.

  8. Rho, Absolutely! Their perception comes from intentionally insulating themselves, only talking to people who agree with them. Any deviance from their model is considered…well, deviance. They don’t actually make an effort to classify people–they assume that everyone they meet is Christian, anti-abortion, and Republican. When someone disrupts that worldview, as when their son who is a Christian tells them that he is pro-choice and politically liberal, they are dumbfounded and do not know how to respond. This is true of my husband’s parents and well as his siblings.

  9. This is my conundrum. In the interest of family harmony, my parents-in-law and I do not discuss politics, national security, racial issues, homosexuality, feminism… and yet, I know these people.

    If an illegal Arabic lesbian immigrant in an “I Heart Saddam” t-shirt carrying a Planned Parenthood banner collapsed on their doorstep, they would carry her in, feed her, let her stay in the guest room, find her an immigration attorney, take her to the Mary Kay salon, get her a job, sneak new clothes into her bags, and manage to ignore everything about her they didn’t understand.

    Go figure. Tomorrow my father-in-law and I will cancel out each other’s ballots.

  10. As far as I know my in-laws are all voting Obama. For some strange reason I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND my mother-in-law got it in her head I was voting McCain. Now I’ve always voted Democrat for president and gotten into some great conversations with her husband (a die hard Dem) talking about “those damn Republicans”. It’s her SON (my husband) who’s voted for Bush in the past,and even he is voting Obama.

    My parents on the other hand are “gritting their teeth and voting for McCain”. I’ve never heard of them voting for a democrat, so I’m not surprised. My mother actually started to argue the “we aren’t even sure if he’s a US citizen” Obama talk. “Well it’s not a real birth certificate, it’s a certificate of live birth.” So? Mom, I can name quite a few people who don’t still have their original certificate and had to request a copy (my husband for one). They look EXACTLY like the one from Obama. Why the demand for a conspiracy? For my parents I don’t think it’s race based, they are just conservative in their politics.

    Lara Amber

  11. “Gritting their teeth and voting for McCain?” Is that like “just close your eyes and think of England?” 😉

  12. My issue is that my 16 year old daughter spends 1/2 her time with me, and 1/2 with her mother.

    Her mother got pregnant at 18 and needed help from the Government. They gave her food and shelter and after 2 years of letting her care for her child, sent her to school to get training to get a better job than she could have had with no training.

    She votes Republican (if she votes), in part because she doesn’t want her tax dollars going to some “dirtbag welfare queen”. When I say “oh, like you where?” .. well.. you can imagine.

    Now, my child spends significant time with me, and I engage her in the political process. I ask her about things that are going on in the world, how she feels about certain things, what she thinks is right, decent. I also teach her to think critically so she can pick apart logical fallacies when someone brings them to her. I think those are important skills in general.

    My 16 year old child watched the VP debate and just about dropped her jaw at times while Palin was talking. It tickled me to hear her say “Did she just manage 20 words and not actually say anything?”. Then came “how the hell do you go to a debate and say you aren’t going to answer questions?”

    So my very open minded child has to spend every other week with her mom. And on occasion, her step dad is home (he volunteered for active duty, again, once his baby was born). He’s a hard core white trash Republican. He actually said to her “I’d rather have a hooters chick as president than some damn black muslim!”. … when my daughter said “well, that’s pretty racist of you, don’t you think?” he said.. “I’m not racist, I hate all of ’em!”.

    Not once during their …. discussion did he defend McCain or Palin, he simply tossed out all the right-wing talking points about Obama. Muslim, Ayres, Socialist, etc etc. And when he wasn’t able to sway her, he asked her “what the hell do you even have an opinion for anyway?”. Apparently, 16 year old young adults aren’t supposed to be thinking, yet.

    At one point her mother barked at her “why don’t you just call your dad and ask him what you should say!”. Well, that doesn’t sit well with someone that thought they had their own opinions, nor is it fair bring such things up during a conversation, even one you’re losing. And it’s pretty annoying to me that 2 adults were ganging up on my child instead of trying to have a rational discussion. Of course, that’s what Palin is trying to do, bring about more of that divisiveness between parties.

    So my conflict is mostly that my beautiful daughter with a brilliant mind is subjected to low brow redneckedness on a regular basis.

  13. It’ll just make her tougher, S, because it makes her think. I grew up in Redneck Central and I’m the bitchiest, bra-burningest, mouthiest female I know.

  14. oh, man…what a question. i tried to stick to my policy of not ever talking about politics or anything real-life with my parents, but then i made the mistake of talking about how exciting the DNC was. suddenly (or so it seemed to me) my mother came out hard for McCain and then nearly swooned with joy when Palin was added to the ticket. my mother compares Palin to Theodore Roosevelt.

    because they both hunt moose.


    anyway, i have not spoken with them for over a month now (and they have not spoken to me, either, mind you) because i finally requested that she stop sending me political forwards that were false and slanderous (regarding any of the cnadidates) and to please use snopes or factcheck before she forwards things. which apparently made me the “enemy” and we are now in a familial cold-war.

    politics will be the death of me this year.

  15. I’ve been blessed with an immediate family that is not terribly biased towards one political party or the other. My mother is a moderate and while my father is a Republican he is always open to discussion on the issues, and when at times he does seem overbearing I mention it to him and he takes a step back to take a breather and let me speak. And that is the perfect response in my opinion.

    I, being a moderate myself, enjoy a view from outside the party lines and tend to take a neutral stance on most subjects until I can make a reasonable judgment of my own. My problem with radicals on either side of the fence is a tendency for them to be unable to listen to those with differing views or explain their own view points in a logical manner. Believe in whatever you wish to believe in but when I ask you why you feel that way, please have a reason to back up your viewpoint and should I offer a counter-argument do not dismiss it simply because it does not groove with your way of thinking. Instead, open your ears and truly listen to what might be a completely valid response that could in turn affect your point of view on matters.

  16. Back in the 70s I was a Young Republican. My 1st vote for president was cast in favor of Carter. I saw no conflict with that and I see no conflict now in casting a vote for Obama.

    Nearly all of my family is voting for Obama, except my parents.. and one of my brothers ( I think).

    My dad(72 yrs old) actually used the same words to describe Obama that I use to describe McCain: ‘He’s a blithering idiot!’ (of course my dad’s taxes will go up under the Obama tax plan)

    My mom won’t tell any of us who she’s voting for, a sure sign she’s a McCain supporter. Very, very active Southern Baptist, watches only local affiliate news, believes whatever is said there or in the local paper. Asked me last week if I thought Obama was really ‘natural born’ and did I think he could be the antichrist?

    She already voted early in NC, and says she voted for ‘Goofy, all the way down’.

  17. I’m the only “lefty” in my family, they love to forward all the right wing emails to everybody they know – and for some reason no one ever deletes the email address’ from all the other forwards.
    I send them into a website where you can get your frustrations out by sending the crap your family sends you. If you go there the latest one sent in is mine, with the name of Wayne on it.

  18. my family is a mixed bag (though everyone is, of course, certain that *they* are correct).

    dad, fuggetaboutit. lifetime republican, retired cop, ultra conservative. he refuses to even listen to anything other than GOP talking points. this is not unexpected.

    but! my mother and her brother (and his entire family) have become motivated as never before by this election. not only are they voting for obama, they have actually DONATED to his campaign — something they have never done before.

    i am looking forward to an obama landslide today.

    fingers crossed!

  19. Two more years, Savantster, and your gorgeous child will no longer have to associate with her mother or idiot step father. Lucky for you they did not have time to infect her with the stupidity they both revel in.
    My parents, both dead, would have voted for McCain. I can say I am glad they are gone and cannot do so. They were both bigots and stupid, closed minded people. Years ago when my daughter was a 5 year old, she read them both the riot act for saying the N word in her presence. They never said it again when we were around.
    Fortunately for me, my husband’s family is all D, but none of them are as rabid about it as I am.

  20. My father is ex-military, lifelong republican, and refuses to listen to anything that isn’t Rove approved.
    Sadly, unlike Dr. Slammy’s family, mine tends to look down on education. It just means I’m for Obama because I’m a “socialist liberal elitist”. When pressed on it they can’t give me a coherent definition for any one of those words, much less all three of them.
    Except for my mom, who’s voting for Obama and flat out said “Your father and his family are idiots. You know better than to argue with them.”
    So far the best exchange has been “You just hate him because he’s not white and he’s a Democrat.” “My father was a Democrat.” with my mom shouting from another room “Your father was a Wallace Democrat!”

  21. Savanster said,
    “Her mother got pregnant at 18 and needed help from the Government. They gave her food and shelter and after 2 years of letting her care for her child, sent her to school to get training to get a better job than she could have had with no training”

    Why weren’t you doing the right thing and providing for your child instead of relying on the government. One must be responsible for their actions, no matter what the cost. You criticize a lot, but should look in the mirror.


  22. I know… leaving that very well paying job that I had for 6 years, increasing my “job instability” to move 1/2 way across the country and take on large amounts of debt so I could be closer to my child, protect her, be there for her in her hour of need.. I clearly don’t “do the right thing” by her.

    Going to college to provide a better life for my child than I ever had.. not taking responsibility for my actions.

    You’re so right.