Friday, November 11, 2016

Political Discourse at 1120 Bon Air Road

We have just navigated one of the oddest, most contentious, least traditional election cycles in the history of politics.

And even now that it's over, it's not really over, as "Not My President" protests continue to create havoc in cities across the U.S.

I voted. I'm content with the person for whom I cast a vote. And for how all that eventually worked out, the good and the bad.

But all the public debate and outright anger of politics in 2016 did spark a memory.

My parents were a household divided.

Mom was a devoted Democrat. I think much of that affinity came from her status as a Depression kid. A lot of that generation viewed FDR as a saint and kept the affinity moving forward.

Mom love-l0ve-loved JFK and, from what I'm told (I was too young to remember, although your reading of that statement is indeed correct if it infers that I was alive in November 1963. I was indeed; I was 11 months old), she wept bitterly at his assassination.

Dad, on the other hand, leaned right. I think some of that was attributable to his time in the Navy; after his discharge, he returned to the service as a civilian and launched an engineering career helping with the design of aircraft carriers.

His commander-in-chief during those years was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican.

As their 1957 marriage continued, they remained peacefully in separate camps. I remember both of them staunchly committing to get to the polling places every four years, if for no other reason but to "cancel each other out."

By the time the Johnson Administration was getting bogged down in Vietnam, things were beginning to get strained in the Weckerly political climate.

Mom's peacenik stance led her to rail against LBJ and what she perceived as warmongering for profit, with no clear exit strategy in place.

Dad, on the other hand, mourned the loss of life. But at the end of the day, the war effort was supplying him with the means to support his family. And although I'm sure he prayed for its quick end, he did so with an eye toward self-preservation.

They never argued politics in front of us. Never once.

What they did do -- and as I remember it was only once a year -- is this: When political rhetoric would begin to thicken between them, they would go to the basement laundry room, pile a few pairs of sneakers in the dryer, turn it on to mask the sound of their voices, and argue their opposite points with rigor and passion.

What they didn't know, or maybe they did but didn't care, is that my brothers and I would scurry to the nearest heat register, open the vents and listen.

I remember not understanding a lot of it, talk of the Gulf of Tonkin and Ho Chi Minh and Tet. 

I also knew that when the discussion ended, it ended. 

The dryer went off. Which was our cue to scamper away from the heat register.

They both climbed the stairs.

And life went on.

All in all, not a bad way of hashing out differences of political opinion.

All we need in the U.S. now, I believe, is a dryer loud enough to mask all the shouting.



  1. Wise people your parents. I fear the split that will occur if the electoral college cast for Clinton.

  2. I don't know if I could do that (the laundry room argument) -- and walk away as they did. They must have done a good job of setting the ground rules at one point... My guess is that they established the time limit for the argument/discussion.. Thanks for sharing .