I was shocked more than once, these past few days.
My family (ancestor's) have been Republican since they got off the boat. "The Republican Party. The Party that freed the slaves and brought equality for all." After all, wasn't there a photo of Abraham Lincoln on the top of the ballot?
One of my great grand father's, higher up on our tree, (1888) was nearly on his death bed, but on election day, he hired a small flat bed wagon to come to his house. They put a feather tick on the wagon, lifted him up and laid him on the "bed" and took him, "over heavily rutted roads," to the voting house, where they had to carry him in on a chair and he made his "X" for Benjamin Harrison--our 23rd President. All of this was written in his obituary, when he died in March 1889.
We never discussed politics in my family. I had no clue nor was I aware of who my grand parents and parents voted for or if they even voted. When I was 9, President Truman, running for re-election came to a nearby town on a whistle-stop. For some reason, our school buses loaded all students into buses and took us to that town. I can still see him and Bess standing on the platform on the back of that train. Our teacher had told us it was an honor to see the President and we were to behave--and we did.
I only got a glimpse of my family's political leanings when, the day after that election, my grandma said, "Start hoarding sugar. We'll be going to war soon." So, of course, the next day in school, I reported her statement. My 4th grade teacher said, "Now stop that kind of talk," and one of my friends wouldn't speak to me for days. I still had no clue. I guess I thought everyone felt the same way my grandma did.
We got a TV when I was 12--purposefully for my Dad to watch the Red Wings hockey championship games. There was another election the next fall and I remember, laying on the cold living room floor watching the conventions. I was fascinated. I had the most wonderful hologram sort of "I like Ike", button. If you turned it one way, it showed his photo, turned to the right a bit, it showed the words. Of course, my whole family was voting for Ike. My uncle had served with him in WWII and spoke of him often. I thought we were related to him.
My first time voting, I was scared stiff. You had to make your "X" on a very long paper ballot and fold it up just right, with a corner bent over. If not folded just right, the clerk would throw it away. I remember shaking so hard when I went to make that "X". My two little children sat on chairs in the room, scared to move or make a sound. This was very important stuff going on.
I was terribly upset that night when the TV revealed Kennedy had won. I thought he was a mob influenced, rat. Probably going to make all of us convert to Catholicism. His father was a rum-runner, a mobster. He had stuffed the ballot box in Chicago with dead people's ballots and the like. I thought we were doomed! Still, I cried as hard as anyone when he was killed--even though I still didn't like him.
So--again on my next election, I took a stand. I had power! Johnson and Goldwater. I couldn't vote for either one. Goldwater had stated he wanted to send more troops to Viet Nam and end the war. Johnson had said "I will not send anymore of your boys to war." I couldn't vote for the war-monger, but Johnson was a Democrat and I couldn't, in good conscience, vote for him. I left the top part of my ballot unmarked and voted for all Republicans on the "down ballot."
I felt the same way this year. How could I vote for either one?
My husband too, although he worked for GM and was thus a Union member, also was a Republican and his family had been, since the beginning of time. Our kids grew up hearing us talk about when and who we would vote for. Although the year husband voted for Wallace nearly caused our divorce!
My family were quiet Republicans. No signs in our yards. No discussions with friends or neighbors. As my Daddy always said, "It's no body's business. That's why we have a secret ballot."
When it came time for my kids to vote, they were so proud. At that time, I had no idea who they voted for and didn't ask. It was none of my business. I assumed they voted Republican.
Over the years I have found that my son has consistently voted for the Green Party--whatever that is. Pammie is a Democrat. Karen has remained on the Republican side. Jennifer, being influenced by her Liberal professors in college and studying for a degree in Social Work, voted for Clinton. Four years later, she voted for Bush. I have no clue who she voted for this year, probably Hillary, which means she and her husband cancelled out each other's ballot.
The shock came this year when my oldest grand daughter stated on FB Wednesday morning, how frightened she was for her baby daughter. I guess that can only mean one thing? She must have voted for Hillary. Comments I heard her youngest sister make on FB, I guess my ballerina Madeleine voted Democratic in her first election too. I know their two brothers voted Republican. I can imagine Karen is shaking her head more than I am.
Then I saw a post by my sister's daughter-in-law. My sister's son is Township Supervisor and works for the Republican Senate at our Capitol in Lansing. I was shocked by the rant his wife had posted. She was angry and sad and couldn't see how "Trump could get 59 million people to vote for him. What is wrong with this country?" I imagine there might be some tense moments in that household.
It is strange to me how my family has changed--just in the last 25 years. Once a pure, white, conservative, Protestant group for 20+ generations, we are a melting pot in our own right. I can only imagine how my father and grand parents would cringe.
As for me? I kind of enjoy watching the changes and I am awfully glad we have a family that respects each other enough to love and support each others beliefs and choices.
If my kids/family are diverse, it's my fault. As I think about it now--shortly after my Mother died and I fully realized how critical and judgmental my father had been and still was, and how much I had relied on my Mother's love to keep me going and now-that was gone. She was the one I had always gone to for advice and I felt lost after her death. What if I suddenly died and my children were only influenced by their father and grand father?
I got this crazy idea-- I wanted my children to grow up independent of my viewpoint. I didn't want them to have to rely on me for their decisions. I gave them a lot more leeway in their choices--reminding them there would be good or bad consequences of those choices, so think hard before making a decision.
To my husband's dislike, I also talked more openly at the supper table about how differing opinions on a subject are okay. We might not agree, but each person is allowed to have and speak their opinion, if they want too. Be respectful of everyone, no matter color or belief. Be helpful and kind to everyone you meet in every situation. Be honest and trustworthy so people know your word and handshake is as good as a written contract. Be polite and considerate and loyal to friends and family.
Even at 14, 12 & 10, they took it to heart, which meant, when my son let his hair grow past his shoulders and he looked like an idiot--I kept my mouth shut. When he got suspended from school, I let him take the consequences. When he got arrested for drinking and driving and spent 30 days in the county jail, I did not bail him out.
When my Pammie started bringing home not only stray animals, but stray kids because she wanted to show them what a "normal" family was like, I welcomed them to our supper table and talked with them about their problems and coaxed them to go home and talk it out with their parents. When between her Junior and Senior year of high school, she stated she was going to hitch-hike to California to visit her brother, I cringed and coaxed her Dad to let me buy her a round-trip plane ticket.
When my sweet, Bible school teaching, deep down Methodist church involved, deeply religious Karen announced she was engaged to a Catholic boy--I may have stumbled half a step, but immediately turned to show her my joy and love and prepare for the wedding.
When my Jennifer stood up in front of her college classmates, being given her award for Outstanding Student and proclaimed to the world and her family that she was "proud to be called a flaming Liberal" and watched my Dad, sitting in front of me, almost fall out of his seat, I smiled and applauded.
Has it been difficult for me at times? Oh, heck yes!!, but if I wanted to get away from my father's, "My way is the only way and if you don't behave to my way of thinking, I want nothing to do with you", point of view, I had to put my money where my mouth was and stop that from going on to my kids generation.
So now--unlike all the generations before us, my family consists of Rabid Republicans, Flaming Liberals, Moderates, and 3rd party lovers. Pro-life, Pro-abortion, Gun toting, gun hating, death penalty, anti-death penalty, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Agnostics and undecideds. Germans, Hispanics, Irish and Hebrews. Union members, Farmers, Attorneys, Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Ministers. Poor and rich.
And---I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!