Coming from Good Stock
My dad, Ed, is going to be 95 in a few months. He's had his challenging physical problems the past few years, but his mind is still impressively sharp. And he's stayed vibrantly active in his interest in politics. He subscribes to a few political newsletters, watches a couple of MSNBC shows every night, reads the newspaper every morning, checks his favorite news site online, is looking forward to voting in the Illinois primary next week (if he can't get to his polling place, he's got an absentee ballot to vote by mail), and it's wonderful to see him still get pissed off at Republicans after all these years.
It's not uncommon for a lot of seniors to get more conservative as they get more senior, but my dad has stayed true blue. (My mother too, up to literally the end. When she was in the hospital a few months ago, there was an election a couple months before she passed away. She had a tube in her throat for breathing and couldn't talk, and was very weak. But she wanted an absentee ballot. I asked her each candidate and ballot issue, and one by one she nodded for each that she wanted. And she was able to scrawl her "mark" on the signature line. And yes, her heart remained Democratic and liberal.)
The residence where my dad lives in a suburb north of Chicago is probably much more conservative than liberal. (Whenever I would go to visit, he, his friend Ray there, and I would occasionally get together for dinner, and we'd joke that it was a meeting of the residence's Democratic Club.) That's why I've always loved his story of going downstairs to vote in the 2008 presidential election -- there's a polling place in his independent living residence. Heading to the voting booths, he saw a lot of McCain supporters lining up, one of whom was a friend of his with a McCain button on her blouse. Though he knew he was much out-numbered, he also knew how hugely popular Barack Obama was in Illinois (then its U.S. Senator), and that because of the Electoral College, whoever wins a state gets all the Electoral Votes. So, he cheerfully wandered over to his friend and acknowledged her McCain button, and then smiled, "You do understand that your vote here isn't going to make one bit of difference?!" She laughed and said, "I know..." And he passed by all the other Republicans, happily wearing his own "Obama for President" button (something rare, because I never knew him to wear such things, ever), making sure it could be seen, and went to vote.
He doesn't know if he'll be able to make it downstairs next week for the primary, but he's going to try. But just in case, he made sure that I got an absentee ballot mailed to him.
He absolutely loves watching the presidential debates. For both sides. He doesn't just watch Hillary and Bernie -- he likes them both. He watches the Republicans, as well. Every debate, each in their entirety as much as possible. In fact, and this might be surprising, but he most-especially loves the Republican debates. He won't miss them, and if they're on an obscure channel calls me up to track down what the listing number is for his cable system. I keep asking him why he watches all of the GOP ones, let alone loves them the most, and he says the Republican debates are just hilarious, the funniest shows on television. He was joking last week that some network should sign them up and turn the Republican debates into a weekly sitcom. He'd love to watch them regularly. He's even got a name for the show. He calls it The Four Assholes.
(When he saw the news stories the other day about people complaining that Bernie Sanders was too rude, for snapping out, "I'm talking!," he laughed and said, "Yes, he was a little blunt, but too rude? Have the people seen the Republican debates??" And then laughed again.)
So, I know that his evening tonight is planned. He'll be in front of his TV, ready ahead of time for bed, but sure to stay up for his favorite comedy show. "Of course, I'll be watching," he said last night, almost mock-offended that I had to ask. "I wouldn't miss it. The Four Assholes is the funniest thing on television. Will you be watching?" No, I always say, I have zero interest in seeing any of it, I can't take it. I'll watch the highlights on the news afterwards, and read about it. But 90 minutes of that nasty, offensive, hate-bashing circus is more than I can bear. When there's one nominee, I'll watch. "You don't know what you're missing," he said.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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