Hello there. I'm Le Champignon (French for "the mushroom"). I'm a new diarist and user, but I've been lurking for some months now, so I basically know the score here. I would like to bring to you a new diary series entitled Tales of my Conservative Father. I suppose it's a little bit like "Shit My Dad Says", except a) it's not contrived and scripted, b) humor is only a secondary concern, and c) I want it to be an educational insight into those whose minds we need to change if we want a shot at retaking the House.
Let me introduce myself first. I'm a young white male liberal born and raised in Texas (complete with the pervasive "y'all"), graduating next fall from the University of Texas. I consider myself an FDR liberal. I believe that all other concerns in America are secondary to the economic plight of the lower and middle class, and the economic blight visited upon them by the upper class. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other social issues are great concerns of mine as well, but fundamentally, money remains the greatest divider in America. I'm also a type-one diabetic with vision and hearing problems, adult ADD, and severe acute depression.
And now to introduce the subject of my diary series. My father is an old Texas conservative, long-time blue collar worker. He voted Republican every single time in his life, until November 2012 when he just couldn't pull the lever for Mitt Romney. (This was thanks to me. Of course, I couldn't get him to support Obama. He just didn't vote in the Presidential election.) Some (rather rough) quotes of his to give you an idea about the man:
The 1992 election was perfect; it just had the wrong outcome. We had the best economics guy, the best foreign policy guy, and the man who could sell water to a drowning man all running against each other. [By which he meant Ross Perot, Shrub the First, and Bill Clinton, respectively.]
Reagan was the best thing that ever happened to this country.
[Shrub the Second] was a great man who stood up for his beliefs. If he said he was going to do something, by god, he meant it. He was an honest man.
I've always supported unions and I've always bought American. I'll never forgive Clinton for sending good union jobs to other countries with NAFTA. [Note: This is a man who worked as a union representative for years at Boeing.]
Y'all can take my guns from my cold dead hands. That's what you Democrats want, right?
I ain't voting for that ni**er. [Meaning Barack Obama.]With all that having been said: My father is not your run-of-the-mill conservative. If I were to label him anything, I'd say he's a closet conservative Democrat, or maybe a Ross Perot independent. This fall, he'll likely be voting for Wendy Davis for governor. If he does so, it will be the first time in his life that he has pulled the lever for a Democrat.
Having introduced the two parties, let me explain the format of the diary series. Each diary will focus on one topic. I'll compare and contrast my views with my father's, and explain his reasoning behind his statements. I'll then discuss ways of convincing the man, and those with similar views, why they're wrong. I'll close with some discussion of the electoral impact of converting similar men to our cause. Since this is my first diary on this site (though I'm well-practiced on others), and also my first try at a diary series, this format is subject to change based on feedback on your part and reconsideration on my part.
Speaking of which, all feedback is quite welcome - I will not bite anyone's head off. In fact, I'm quite interested in seeing how well this diary is received, as I've seen precious little liberal insight into the conservative world that didn't involve mocking them mercilessly. (Often deservedly so, of course.) Now, onto today's diary topic, at last:
In my father's words:
[My father] Obamacare is a bunch of bullshit. Why couldn't they just fix Medicare?This was the surprise statement my father made to me a few months ago as the rollout of the law approached. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I asked him what he meant.
As mentioned in the introduction segment, I am a type one diabetic with vision and hearing disorders, i.e. I'm entirely uninsurable. My father is acutely aware of my struggles regarding healthcare. For me, healthcare is not optional. If I stop taking insulin, I might last a couple weeks if I watch what I eat. So preexisting conditions is something he knows a lot about.
My father is also of the Rob Portman (R-The "Stop Polling Me Already For God's Sake" State) vein of conservatism. He's quite capable of empathy, so long as it's someone he cares about. (Sidenote for context: Sen Portman was the first Republican Senator to come out in favor of gay marriage after finding out his son is gay.)
What he meant was this: Why not extend Medicare's benefits for all those with a preexisting condition who could not get coverage through their employer?
It's a fine idea, to be sure. But most of the uninsured in America do not have preexisting conditions of the kind that make you uninsurable - just enough to raise your rates through the roof. It also doesn't stop the "free rider" problem where the uninsured go to the hospital, receive care, and then don't pay their hospital bills at the expense of their credit. (This, by the way, was me after finding out about my diabetes at age 20.)
This is his main objection to Obamacare: Why should anyone be forced to purchase anything from a private party?
That's right, ladies and gents. My arch-conservative father attacked Obamacare from the left.
Basically, I agree with him. Obamacare's individual mandate has always seemed sketchy at best to me. But I understand the need for it. Politically, medicare-for-all was never going to happen, and medicare-for-some just wasn't enough to get everyone covered. But it's a solid idea, nevertheless. If you want to reduce the premiums for everybody, then cover people with preexisting conditions and chronic illnesses such as diabetes that require long term treatment. And give us a public option so that we don't have to donate money to corporations; we should do it if, and only if, it makes economic sense to do so, i.e. the corporations can undercut the federal government.
The electoral consequences:
Economically, my father is right wing. Among his many quotes is this gem:
I vote Republican because I make more money when Republicans are in power.So it's rather surprising to see such a conservative advocating such a left-wing position. I think it shows that the Demosaurs and Dixiecrats of 2009 were overly afraid of sponsoring government-run health insurance. Single-payer could have been a winning issue for us - or at the very least, a public option + medicare expansion.
People love the hell out of Medicare. They don't understand Obamacare. In the mind of my father, Medicare is a Good Thing. Expanding it is also a Good Thing. Advocating for its expansion could persuade some people to vote Democrat who have never done so before, or persuade those who once voted Democrat to do so again. (This being the Reagan Democrat, Ross Perot independent demographic that abandoned us in droves during the 90s.)
And who would it alienate? Essentially no one. Liberals like it because it's closer to single payer. Low-info voters like it because it's simple and easy to understand. Centrists like it because Medicare is popular across the political spectrum, save for some far-right Tea Party hacks. The only folks who wouldn't like it are the aforementioned Tea Party hacks - and who here thinks such folk would ever be caught dead voting for a Democrat?