I just had a disturbing conversation with my Republican Dad, who called Obama “a monkey who rose to the top through affirmative action.” He revealed the true underbelly of the racist, sexist, homophobic Republican party whose only perspective comes from old white Christian men. He said “Romney will win by a landslide” even though the polls have them tied for the popular vote and Obama winning more electoral votes. When I pointed out that under Romney, his four children would have to pay $200k per couple in Medicare costs, he didn’t care. Partisan politics are more important than his loved ones. I pointed out that under Romney, Medicaid would be gutted by trillions of dollars, leaving almost one third of our country (77 million) uninsured. The elderly would be kicked out of their nursing homes on to the street. The mentally ill would have to abandon their medications. Children would go unvaccinated, causing the return and spread of once-cured diseases.
My Dad is one of the one percent, and I pointed out that he was only voting for his own selfish interests–a tax cut for the wealthy–and not for the good of the country. I’m too old to have an abortion, but I know I want women, who will have abortions whether they are legal or not, to have them safely. I don’t benefit from Obamacare, but I am passionate about insuring 30 million more people and bringing an end to the pre-exisiting conditions prohibition, insuring young adults until they’re 26 years old, capping lifetime costs, and closing the donut hole for the elderly.
I brought up the Republican war on women, and my Dad asked, “What has Obama ever done for women?” I said that Obama was pro-choice, while Romney will appoint pro-life supreme court justices and seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, and that Obama had signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, which provides equal pay for women.
My Dad then said that “‘Women are sluts who should keep their legs closed. Why should we pay for these sluts’ contraception?” I pointed out that poor people have sex too and they might not be able to afford the pill. I didn’t say that Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers all pulled their ads from his radio show when he said this–I was in shock.
I said that Romney would eliminate Planned Parenthood. He said, “I’m not going to pay taxes for abortions!” I pointed out that abortion accounts for one percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget, and most of it’s budget goes to paying for cancer screenings for poor women. My dad can’t conceptualize the poor–they are just lazy people who can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
I argued that Romney would privatize Social Security, and my Dad said I knew nothing about money. He said that if he’d invested his social security money, he’d have “900k extra money to give you when I die.” I countered that he lost one million dollars in the crash. “But the market changes and I got it back,” he said. “‘What about the people who wanted to retire after the crash and their social security had been wiped out?” I asked.
My dad believes that he is a self-made man who “never got help from anyone.” Then he said, “Except when my Uncle gave me the job at Turner Construction.” Well, I never got a job through a relative, that would have been a huge help. He also seemed to forget that my mother, who worked as an English teacher in Queens, New York’s middle schools, paid the mortgage the first year he bought us our house in an exclusive neighborhood with the best schools, and throughout the slow winters, at a time when women in our village didn’t work. He also seemed to forget that he got the job as a home inspector which made him rich came from a tip from a neighbor. He lucked out–he was born a white male WASP who received support from family and friends.
I asked him, “Why is it that Democrats like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Dave Letterman, Rachel Maddow, all use humor to critique Republicans, while Republicans like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck all incite fear and hatred through insults and anger and screaming?” My Dad, who really values humor and who is constantly joking, said, “I’ll grant you that point. But you know Ann Coulter is my girl.”
I personally know Ann Coulter. She was in my Freshman English Honors class at Cornell. She hadn’t found politics yet, but she was already a lunatic. Her comments on literature were the laughing stock of the class. She wore baggy sweatshirts and madras shorts every day. A friend of mine was her housemate, and knew her to be an anorexic, living on air popped popcorn and wine. She had brown hair and a horsey face. All of my friends and my roommate and I constantly gossiped about how stupid she was.
I used to respect my Dad’s keen intelligence. We were raised reading the New York Times and listening to Classical music. But my Dad now finds the New York Times to be too liberal. He turns on Fox news and leaves it on all day. He listens to conservative talk radio rather than Classical music. He rants rather than argue. He has become illogical and ill informed. Thanks, Fox news and Rush Limbaugh.