I got a phone call from my father today. As I live in Philadelphia and he in Baltimore, we exchanged pleasantries and started off our conversation about the recent super storm. After a few moments of banter about this crazy weather we’ve been having, he quickly changed the subject.
“Son, I need you to do something for me,” he said.
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“The election’s soon, and Pennsylvania’s an important state… I can’t have you throwing your vote away. I need you to vote for Romney.”
At first I was shocked. I thought “Really? You called to ask me to vote for not only a misogynist, but a bigot, a homophobe, a warmonger, corporate tool, and liar all wrapped up in a nice little sociopathic package?” I then took a breath and realized who I was talking to. This was my dad. He’s about as Joe Six-Pack as it gets. A Christian, a hunter, a redneck, a construction guy, a man who has owned his own business, and now, a man in his forties just trying to make it work with what he has. Oh, and he watches FOX News.
I’ve tried on several occasions to help him broaden his horizons, to see that the line that divides the aisle isn’t solid, and that the issues that concern our country aren’t as black-and-white as the media would have him believe. He pooh-poohs my arguments as liberal B.S., but I still try, because he’s my dad, and I love him. And I listen to his rantings without interrupting, because he’s my dad, and I love him. Here’s the thing, though, he doesn’t back up any of his claims with facts. He just parrots talking-points that he hears on television.
So I took a moment and then asked him why exactly I needed to vote for Mitt Romney in the election. His response?
“This country’s gone to s*** since Obama took office. We need to restore order.”
He seriously believes that in the past four years, America has nearly fallen. He rattled on about Obamacare and how, in just a few years time, we’ll all be forced to have health care or we’ll be audited by the Internal Revenue Service. He vilified Obama for cutting military spending, saying we need that money to “get the terrorists.” His worries are that we’re going to be paying for one another’s health care when, in his eyes, we should really be spending it on bombs. These are the things my father is taking away from the propaganda machine.
I’m not what you would call an Obama supporter. I’ve criticized the man enough – on his foreign policy, on homeland security, on the drug war, and many other things – to show that I’m certainly no shill. However, to say that this country has gone to Hell in the past four years isn’t just inaccurate, it’s inexcusable. If anyone honestly thinks that, they are simply not paying attention or are being duped.
I’d wager that things in this country went to Hell over a far longer timeframe, beginning in the 80’s and rapidly deteriorating around 2003, but that’s an argument for another time. Instead, I’d like to tell you what my response was to my father.
“I’m not allowed to vote because I don’t have a state issued I.D.”
He was in disbelief. You see, he doesn’t really follow things that closely. He just watches FOX 24/7 and picks up whatever drivel they feed him, so he didn’t know that Pennsylvania’s voter I.D. law got struck down. This is the same law that he was all for having because FOX told him it was necessary to curb voter fraud which, if you actually read the reports, isn’t an issue at all.
I, of course, have a PA driver’s license, but he doesn’t know that. I told him that even though I have a social security number, and even though I’m a citizen, I can’t vote because the Republicans wanted to stop black people from voting for Obama. Never really heard the man at a loss for words before.
The entire middle-class Republican base has this Stockholm syndrome about their masters. Even though they were put through Hell for eight years by Bush and Cheney, they still blamed the Democrats, and even when things began to improve ever-so-slightly under Obama, they still cried bloody murder.
So will I vote come election day? Maybe yes, maybe no. I might just stay home, catch another few hours of sleep. That might just be worth more in the long run.