I am a child of the 1950's. I grew up in a traditional nuclear family with one younger sister. My father worked in an office at an eight to five white collar job and my mother stayed home to raise us girls. Our first home was a small house that my parents bought with a VA loan because my father was a combat veteran of World War II.
The town that I grew up in was a very politically conservative and my family traditionally voted Republican, regardless of the candidate. My earliest memory of politics was when I was a young child and went with my mother to cast her vote for Dwight Eisenhower for President in 1952. I distinctly remember standing behind the blue curtain with her as she voted. Our family "liked Ike!"
My very first voter registration was Republican because that was how we always voted. Later, I briefly toyed with the idea of registering Independent but decided against that because it meant I could not vote in the primaries in Florida. Finally, in my late twenties, I changed my registration to Democrat as I became more aware of the political process and educated as to what each party stood for. Unlike many people that I grew up with, I have become increasingly more progressive over the years. Most of them have stayed mired in the Republican party even though some of them would be adversely affected if Mitt Romney won. They do not care and hate Obama. As for me, I would characterize my current political beliefs as democratic socialism. Of all the national figures, Senator Bernie Sanders now probably best represents my political philosophy.
My parents were products of the Great Depression, although neither of their families suffered like many people did during that era. My father's family, while not wealthy, could have been characterized as being "very well off" while my mother's family was considerably less affluent, probably lower middle class. No one starved during the depression and my mother's family regularly fed homeless people who came to their back door. Yet both their families remained stubbornly Republican. I would characterize their brand of Republicanism as being fiscally conservative, but socially open minded. Shortly before my father's mother died, I remember her saying that the government had no right to tell a woman what she could do with her own body. Still the core belief in my family has always been strongly free market.
For years, I have felt politically uneasy around my own family and isolated from that of my husband's, all of whom are very conservative Republicans. To them, Republicanism is a form of religion from which they will never be converted. My husband is pretty much agnostic about politics, but is a registered Democrat.
My mother is 90 years old and very sharp. She reads a lot and tries to stay up with current events. In 2008, she voted for Barack Obama for President. It is the first time that I am aware that she crossed party lines in the Presidential election. Her reasons were multiple, but mostly she was impressed with his intelligence and was turned off by Sarah Palin whom she thought was totally unqualified to step into the Presidency should anything happen to John McCain.
Early this year, my mother was very upset after having read in the Wall Street Journal that 47% of this country did not pay taxes. I explained to her that everyone does pay taxes but that most of those 47% earn too little to make the basic threshold for paying income taxes. I also explained to her that those 47% included many elderly people who rely solely on Social Security for their income, people who lost their jobs in the recession, people who are only able to find part time or minimum wage work, and students who might work part time. Her response was that the article should have explained that because my explanation changed her mind.
My mother also told me early in the primary season that she was toying with the idea of voting for Mitt Romney. My response to her was that, in my opinion, Mitt Romney was the most dishonest man to ever run for President. The fact that he refused to release his tax returns should disqualify him form consideration. A few moths later, my mother told me that she had definitely made up her mind and that she was voting for President Obama. She said that everything I had said turned out to be right and when he chose Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential candidate, that was the last straw. She said that she thought Paul Ryan was a dangerous man.
Last week, I got an email from my mother and here is what she wrote (my bolding):
I voted for Obama absentee---but everyone around here seems to be for Romney--signs all over the place--all the 47%er's who live in this poor county seem to be for Romney. It's Congress and those tea partiers that scare me--I'm like Charlie Crist--I didn't leave the Republican party--it left me. Love , MomI am so proud of my mother. She gets it. My 90 year old mother rocks!