While I've been feeling like this for a while -- especially with all the red state endorsements -- it didn't really hit home too much until I watched tonight's debate and then had to call my parents to talk some politics.
Both of these people voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but despite this, I love them.
My mother will be voting Democrat in 2008 whichever candidate is our nominee, returning back into the Democratic fold after straying during the W. years having voted Democrat for all the elections from McGovern until 2000. She's never fully explained why she strayed as she more likes to listen to my father and I discuss politics than talk about them herself (and oh I tried so hard to get her back in 2004, but Kerry just never clicked with her and the 9/11 threatening rhetoric did affect her psyche). I'm trying to woo her to the Obama side though, but haven't made the sale yet. She thought Bill was great and she likes Hillary. She doesn't dislike Obama but she said she loved them both.
My father, a Republican, has no business supporting Barack Obama but he does and probably will in the general election even as he can't quite explain why.
From talking to my Dad tonight I realized just how much the Republican Party is screwed if Obama is the nominee.
My dad, who has voted for a Republican for president in every election he's ever voted and only started voting because of Ronald Reagan and how horrible a president he thinks Jimmy Carter was, told me tonight not only had he registered at the Barack Obama Web site as he's reading up on things but he is still going to vote for Barack Obama this coming Tuesday even after his horror at immediately receiving an e-mail from Ted Kennedy in his inbox after he had signed up. (he unsubscribed to the e-mail list because of this... LOL)
My father has no business voting for Barack Obama... at least according to the pundits and Mark Penn-like microtargeting pollsters of the world.
He is a 59-year-old, white, rural, registered Republican.
He drives a pick-up truck, loves NASCAR and has owned guns.
He grew up in an all white farm town and he still lives in an all white farm town and while he never used the n-word when I was growing up, there were things he would say at times that I found racist or at least racially insensitive even if he didn't realize they were.
He owns at least two Ann Coulter books, even though I don't ever remember seeing him reading them. He also listens to Rush sometimes. He hated the Clintons in the 90s and he still hates them now.
But even more than that, as long as I can remember he's just hated Democrats.
Until the last couple years he refused to believe global warming was real and though he admits it now and thinks we need to do something about global warming, he still doesn't like Al Gore much.
Because of experiences earlier in his life he's always hated unions thinking their leadership was corrupt and they hurt business and non-union working people.
Reagan's welfare queen slurs worked like a tonic on him back in the day and he's still detoxing from that somewhat.
When I was a teen (during the 1990s) we fought all the time as I was the Rage Against the Machine-listening rebel stuck in this small town with small minds and my relationship with my Dad was very strained and we often fought as I thought him so sexist and close-minded about life I couldn't open up to him about anything. Certainly not politics.
Thankfully, as I matured, we've been able to talk politics from an intellectual more detached standpoint although as we've talked more over the course of the past couple years it's been fascinating how the extreme right-wing tilt of the Republican party, the exposure of its bankrupt ideology and the corruption and incompetence of the Bush presidency has helped move my dad more into the independent ranks and forced him to ask himself why he keeps voting Republican.
-He disdains the "holy rollers" taking over the GOP as he distrusts religion just as much as the government.
-He didn't understand why Rudy Giuliani wasn't allowed to be a Republican candidate just because he's prochoice.
-He doesn't think people should have assault rifles or that threatens the 2nd amendment in any way.
-He doesn't understand why the Republican party doesn't understand how impractical it is to deport 12 million people and would be OK with immigration reform.
-He's OK with the Bush tax cuts not being renewed.
-He doesn't hate gay people.
-He's ready for the war to be over and doesn't really talk about the terrorists ever (not that my 2,000 person hometown is that much of a target, so I guess that makes sense).
-We talked about the mortgage crisis and I was talking about my frustrations as an apartment dweller who could have bought a house and then had the government bail me out and while I expected him to agree with me on this he didn't as he talked about something he had seen on 60 minutes talking about the execs who are getting all these golden parachutes even as they leave this subprime mortgage lending mess behind and how that's not right (interestingly, he had none of the same outrage over Enron as he still believed in Bush then).
-He now thinks Bush has been a bad president but he doesn't like the Democratic Congress much either as we just need "total change" so we can get things done without the bickering and division.
I have to wonder how many disaffected Republicans who should be Democrats like my dad are out there. I'd argue Obama's campaign shows there's a lot of them.
Still, tonight as we had our conversation he says despite how much he likes Obama he still thinks the Democratic Party stands for the belief that the government should solve all your problems whereas Republicans stand for the belief in personal responsibility.
As he was telling me all this then he went off into some Hillary tangent about how Hillary's plan is just to give people everything they want and she's too close to the unions.
Listening to his latest screed I couldn't help it but jump in and be honest with my dad and say, well, that's not really fair because Obama strongly supports unions too...
but he cuts me off.
"Yeah... I know... but Obama's different."
This same thing happens throughout our conversation.
Yeah... Obama's a Democrat, but he's not one of "those" Democrats. My dad doesn't know it but I think he's an Obama Republican.
He's read all the Rezko stuff in the papers, but as far as its ties to Obama, to him it's bunk. Obama is not corrupt.
He starts to tell me what he thinks of an e-mail I sent him pointing out the fact that Obama's Web site actually had a plan to deal with rural issues while McCain and Romney had no such plans and cutting and pasting things that sound good to me that I think he might like.
My father doesn't mince words. He tells me he looked at Obama's plan and it's "kind of shallow." It doesn't do enough to address problems he sees in terms of how U.S. farm policy on subsidies is tilted too far in the favor of Southern farmers to the disadvantage of Midwest agriculture.
But then he says he went to Hillary's Web site (This is a total shock given how much my dad doesn't like the Clintons and I couldn't fathom he'd ever vote for her so I don't know why he'd bother educating himself) and he says her proposals are more in-depth but they all sound like pandering giveaways to him and Obama's farm policies are definitely better and he talks about what he likes in them from a practical standpoint.
He also says there weren't too many details at McCain's and Romney's web sites about anything. And that's about all he says about the Republicans because he wants to get back to discussing the Democrats.
We talk about the Kennedy endorsement and he says he disagrees with the Caroline Kennedy article (I had sent the endorsement to my mother, who was taken to see JFK speak as a kid and grew up Catholic hoping for the emotional appeal). My dad doesn't think Obama offers the same kind of hope as JFK because he doesn't think JFK was that great. He contends but JFK had a lot of problems like the Bay of Pigs and we debate his presidency for a while with me pointing out that yes LBJ did accomplish more legislatively but I point out how it's kind of unfair to argue JFK didn't do enough since he didn't get to finish his term. We wind up pivoting away from this talk and both agree how great this race is that it gets us talking about history this way.
My dad gets excited and talks about how THIS election is history and how funny it is how we've talked more in the last few weeks talking about the election than we had several months prior.
We went back and forth a little bit more, discussing various policies and with my dad taking a few more shots at Hillary and my mom finally having enough and defending her shooting back that Dad never like her except it used to be that he just didn't like her because she had fat ankles, not because of her policies. I wind up jumping in too as I realize that even if right now I'm not ready to support Hillary in the general election, when Obama is out stumping for her he will get through to me about why I logically should support Hillary as I do agree with most of her positions even if I have my issues with her baggage and how she's campaigned.
Not my Dad though. If it's Hillary-McCain he'll vote McCain. He wants change and Hillary isn't change for him.
So those of you on the fence over whether to vote Hillary or Obama I'll pose a question to you:
Are you interested in having an Obama Republican like my dad cast a Democratic vote for president in 2008 (and potentially many elections to come)?
I do, if only so my dad and I can keep these fun talks going. :)