Election Year Interrogation

You’re going to vote for Reagan, aren’t you?

Daddy asked the question fully expecting a resounding yes.

We’d been down this road before; the discussion normally started with the who are you voting for, then the fatherly counsel followed with the whys, hows, whats and whens in every election year for as long as I could remember.

Geesh…(Just what I needed; another father figure telling me what I should be doing and by when and where… did I really need another father image lecturing to me?)  Ronald Reagan was only a few years behind Daddy but they were certainly cut from the same generational cloth; especially when it came to smaller government, American patriotism, the labor movement, and the individual’s rights and responsibilities of good citizenry.

Like many young men who were first born generation Americans, Daddy had originally been a Democrat.  Times were tough.  They lived through the ’29 Crash and the Great Depression, listening to a fatherly FDR’s fireside chats from their floor-size Philco radios.  Regarding the neighborhood and the times, my father described simply that the immigrant families in West Oakland were all “in the same boat”.

Mom likened President Kennedy’s assassination to when the nation lost FDR; both men had communicated so much hope to so many.  Unlike many of our Catholic neighbors, ours was a Republican household, yet we grieved for our president.  1963 was going to be tough on a personal level as well; my brother had suffered a breakdown and our immediate family was overwhelmed with unfamiliar ramifications of therapy and psychotropic meds.

At eighteen, I’d registered as an Independent, but by the mid-seventies and after having run a small business during the Carter administration, I’d not only changed my registry to Republican but had sworn off peanut butter for a few years, too!

My father was a political animal of sorts, passionate but not always articulate about the issues or the candidates.  More often than not, he let his own character-judging gut sort out the wheat from the chaff; sometimes this instinct failed him.

It was another election year interrogation; only this time, Winnie was confronted as well.

You’re going to vote for Reagan, aren’t you?

I was going to be polite but firm, and let Daddy know that I hadn’t as yet made up my mind.  Before I could even respond,   Winnie replied in no uncertain terms:

I’m not listening to you; you told us to vote for Nixon!!!

Daddy about fell off his chair!  I couldn’t stop laughing; his interrogation abruptly ended, Daddy suggested he’d fix us a cocktail before dinner.  For the time being, politics were set aside…