I live in a small town in the American West. It's typical small town America. Conservative. Christian. Republican. Everyone stops here, to listen intently, whenever the Prophet Glenn Beck speaks.
Conservatism, a Small Town Legacy
My mother, now in her mid-70s, grew up in an even smaller town a few states away. But lives here now with my dad. They were raised conservative, Christian, and Republican. They raised me the same way. Thankfully, I outgrew it.
Having a different world view here can be difficult. I don't talk politics with my friends or neighbors, or most of my family. (Something about just getting dirty and the pig having all the fun.)
But my mom and I have a great relationship. Sometime during high school it transformed (slowly, over years) from mom-son to best friends. We can and do talk openly and freely about anything and everything. I respect her life experience and advice, but she doesn't expect me to always follow it. She respects my ability to think for myself and run my own life.
Because of this relationship, she's the only one I really talk politics with.
I tell you all this, because things are changing for my mom. And it may be indicative of broader changes in conservative America.
Again, my mom is a life-long conservative. And like the rest of my community, started blaming all our nation's woes on Obama about 43 seconds after he took the oath of office. It's a common theme around here. And my wife and I have started a running joke with it. When we run out of dish soap one of us will pipe up, "I blame Obama." The trash can is full, "I blame Obama." You get the idea.
But the political conversations I have with my mom started to change about a year and a half ago. While being staunchly anti-Obama, anti-progressive, mom started to agree with me -- not on the big stuff -- but on the details. She was staunchly anti-Obamacare. But agreed something had to be done about insurance companies declining people for pre-existing conditions. And yes, kids should be able to stay on their parents' insurance until they've gotten out of college and started to get their feet under them. Etc., etc. She knew the debt was crushing America. But as we talked, she'd agree that jobs had to come first, then there'd be people paying taxes to pay off the debt.
On detail after detail, mom agrees with the left. All while proclaiming conservatism.
The Republicans Hit the Fan
Then the debt ceiling circus began.
And my mom began to notice the obstructionism coming from the right, from her Republicans. Before, as I said, everything was seen as Obama's fault. Or the government's. But slowing it shifted. First to congress. And then to the GOP. It became glaringly clear, even to a well tamed conservative voter like my mom, that time and time again it has been the Republicans obstructing action. Not just getting nothing done, but actively keeping things from happening.
Lunch With Mom
Just Something We Do a Few Times a Month
Yesterday, Mom and I had lunch together as we often do. The topic turned to the payroll tax cut extension. Mom doesn't have a horse in this race. She and Dad are retired. No payroll checks coming in to have the taxes raised on. But she was livid. Her party was actively obstructing a tax cut?!?
She knows full well the biggest fights with the administration have been over the Bush tax cuts and she has trumpeted the party line to me for years. But this last move finally drove home what I've been telling her all this time: The Republicans only care about helping the rich.
Now she can see. It was like a light going on in deep, dark cave.
During our lunch, she'll railed on the Republicans for doing this. For their years' long obstructionism, for their stalling while American was in deep economic turmoil.
And then, as our lunch was coming to a close, my mother, lifelong conservative and Republican voter, leaned over the table and with an intense determination I don't think I've ever seen before in her eyes said, "I will NEVER vote for a Republican again!"
Wow. This is only my 4th diary - and it made the Rec List. Thanks. And thanks for all the kind comments.
To answer some of them:
1 - This has been a long process for my mom. Every attack on firefighters, police, school teachers, every power grab by Republican states, every voter suppression bill, basically all the Tea Party crap for the last two years has added to her concern. This Payroll tax was the straw that broke the camel's back.
2 - No, she'll stick to the "never vote for a Republican again" pledge. This was a long, hard fought for decision on her part. If you knew my mom, you'd know she doesn't say it if she doesn't mean it.
Again, thanks for all the Recs and kind words!