Embracing My Republican Son

Type the word “demagogue” and search Google images. You’ll find nefarious despots like Hitler, but also many photos of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

No surprise. Diversity ideally weaves tapestries of greatness, but it continues to unravel America, stitches popping along seams of politics, race, gender and class.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Throughout my years of ministry, I’ve urged people to encounter the “other” in this world. My message is consistent – stretch your minds and hearts to find our common humanity. Before you retreat to your ideological silo, struggle to identify what unites us!

In this blog, I’m urging myself to do the same; specifically, with my middle son, Keenan. I am very proud of him and his wife, Liz. They are hardworking, compassionate, and hopeful about the future.

AND…our politics are diametrically opposed. Keenan will vote for whomever garners the Republican nomination. I will do the same on the Democratic side. We mostly avoid political discussions, well aware of our underlying division. So I asked him to share a few words with me about his values. I said I would then try to find common ground, all within the limits of a 600 word blog. Here we go…

Him: Dad, I support the Republican Party because I’m a fiscal conservative, and the GOP aligns more closely with my beliefs. I’m actually more of a Libertarian, but there is no viable party to advance a candidate. I believe the role of government should be limited, especially since it’s a highly dysfunctional vehicle for solving problems. Our federal bureaucracy is cumbersome, full of waste and inefficiency. Local governments are more productive and easier to hold accountable, and therefore should have more autonomy. I believe in individual responsibility, and that there should be consequences for making bad decisions. Ronald Reagan said it best: “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It’s time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” I believe a free market is the best economic policy, providing services and products at better quality and lower cost. I do not want a government that feeds me, clothes me, and treats me like a disadvantaged child, or that treats our most productive people like milk cows. We cannot punish success without making it shrink, and we cannot reward failure without making it commonplace.  I support the GOP’s stance on immigration; people that are in this country illegally should be deported and the borders secured. I also believe that it is every American’s right to own and know how to use a firearm.

There is so much I could address here: immigration, gun control, capitalism unrestrained by “Christian” ethics, the fact that runaway spending has characterized both parties. Instead, here’s my response.

Me: Keenan, I agree with you on two issues. One, our government is definitely dysfunctional. Career politicians clash with each other in their own privileged world, sealed off from average citizens. I also affirm the need for individual responsibility. I may differ from you on when government assistance is advisable, but I’ve met too many people who act as if they are victims, entitled to aid despite their repeated poor choices.

Most of all, I want you to know that I am proud of you for not being apathetic. You’ve given thought to your position, and you will vote your conscience. I think we ALL agree that part of what makes America great is our participatory democracy.

I am grateful for our country, and for you, son!

Love, Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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