Increasingly Liberal-minded

Increasingly is not quite the right word. 

Mom has been progressive since I’ve known her. 

And now that I really think about it Dad has been too, I just haven’t really known it.  I’ve always assumed I knew his political, fiscal and social positions, but he never ceases to amaze me.  I suppose what I’m really trying to say here is that while I never knew Dad’s positions, as I come to know those positions more, he demonstrates himself to be a true liberal or as Henry David Thoreau might have described him:  self-reliant. 

My first surprise came in 2000, when I learned through my mother that my father voted for Ralph Nader.  This was the first time in my life, at the age of 28, that I ever learned who either of my parents voted for.  Then, in 2004, my father filmed a commercial for Moveon.org and Errol Morris

My dad.  The Horatio Alger story:  married to my mom in their teens, stationed in D.C. with the Navy during Vietnam, finished college with two young boys, his own father hospitalized, miscarriage, laid off countless times from the struggling steel industry in the 1970’s with a family to support, graduated top of his law school class with three young boys and Mom’s support, and climbed to Vice-President of Human Resources for National Steel.    

Now in his forced early retirement, he serves the underserved. 

None of these are true surprises though, as the partnership Mom and Dad created moves them from their backgrounds to fully independent minded, intellectually curious, analytical people. Dad would not be the person he is without the intellectual equal he has in Mom.  

Why do I insist — in my own mind — on referring to Dad in terms of change and surprise?

It must have been the biggest change I witnessed last weekend.  Though it’s probably something he has done in the past for his own boys, and it’s simply something I have no recollection of.  I’ve written before that Dad’s not changed a diaper.  Imagine my surprise when my son, whose arms are still too short to wipe himself, said as we washed our hands after my assist, “Dad-dad wiped me last time.” 

“What?  When?”

“When you were still swimming.” 

Way to go!

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One Response to “Increasingly Liberal-minded”

  1. Dad Says:

    My dear son,
    What a surprise! Here I am going along, trying to get by, like the good doctor in Cider House Rules – trying to be of use, feeling at times like a quitter and I find I’ve made a positive impression on you – a person who’s opinion of me I value greatly. It brings tears to my eyes.

    I had to look up what a Progressive is. I find that it’s a person ( a movement anyhow) concerned about worker’s rights and social justice, among other things. I guess it would be somewhat unusual for a vice-president of human resources for a major industrial concern to have such leanings. On the other hand, FDR was a rich man and he recognized the practicality of that point of view. I still don’t know what it says that my poor grandparents were so anti-progressivism. That people will believe in things that are contrary to their own best interest is amazing to me. But I observed it again yesterday when the evening news saw 4 women from Minneapolis being interviewed about the Republican candidate for vice-president. The 2 Obama democrats argued that Palin couldn’t possibly do justice as both a mother and a vice-president. Meanwhile the 2 McCain republicans argued that a woman can do whatever she wants and it is unpatriotic to even consider that a woman can’t be a good mother and a vice-president. Well, maybe those arguments aren’t contrary to their best interests, but they are certainly contrary to the historic positions each party has taken. Maybe that’s evolution.
    I love you.
    Dad

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