My parents were lifelong Democrats because in the 1950’s through the 1980’s everyone in the south was a Democrat. The Democrats in those days were conservative, family centric, God fearing, people who had grown up in the same town or region as their ancestors. My mother was on the liberal side, but she also believed in family values, regular church attendance, financial responsibility, hard work, and equality and peaceful relations between races and religions.
As a child I can remember being embarrassed because one year she decided we were going to understand and appreciate all religions. Week after week my sister and I had to rotate churches and synagogues so that we experienced a service in all. We went to Presbyterian, Christian, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, and Jewish services. We were lucky there were no cults in town, or she would have taken us there for exposure to that lifestyle.
When my father ran for the city council, he ran as a Democrat, because everybody was one. After he started serving, he stayed for almost thirty years serving the town where he grew up. I cannot ever remember either my father or mother mentioning a Republican as a candidate, and there were none I can remember.
My mother might have even been in the category of “Yellow Dog Democrat” as we learned late in her life. At about age 88 or so we got her absentee ballot and sat down to discuss it with her. She of course voted a straight Democratic ticket. When we asked her “Who are you voting for as President?” we got a blank stare. Her response was “I don’t know but I know I am voting for the Democrat because your father was a Democrat and that is how we vote.” Enough said, she was in lock step with history and habit.
They were products of the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu Epidemic. They were from poor families who either had nothing going into the Great Depression or lost it all in the melee. To them Franklin Roosevelt was a hero who had come to save them all and he was a Democrat.
But if they were alive today, they would be Republicans, I am convinced of it. Their value system would never have aligned with the current Democratic Party. Their values are almost 180 degrees off, and if they were to articulate what they believed it would sound like the Republican platform.
My mother often worked sixty-hour weeks or longer, not because it was expected of her but because she expected it of herself. My father always had a primary job and either one to three secondary jobs as supplemental income. Being hungry during the Great Depression makes a lasting impression on you and you never want to go hungry again. Putting food on the table was their responsibility not the Government’s.
My mother was from a poor family with five children. Her father put food on the table every day and it was her responsibility to do the same. My father’s father died during the depression, so my father and his mother struggled along. They took in boarders to “make ends meet” and never took a handout from anyone. Their sense of family was so strong that from their generation as far back as the family can be traced, about 1800, there has never been a divorce in their direct line of ancestors.
We already mentioned the church rotation visits my sister and I took, but there was a deep religious faith and belief that ran through both sides of the family. My mother’s family is populated with a number of Methodist ministers and the conservative Wesley streak was a strong influence. Both parents believed in the power of faith and prayer, and they passed it along to us. They also understood the value of the church as a uniting force within the community and served in various lay capacities throughout their lives.
In addition to being a “Yellow Dog Democrat,” my mother was a real pioneer in equality for women in our community. She demonstrated this through personal accomplishment and her ability to “hold her own” with any group of men or women. But if you had ever mentioned to her that maybe men could be women or women could be men, she would have dismissed you as psychotic.
Both our parents believed in accountability for their actions and ours. Punishment for stepping out of line was immediate and understandable. Children were children, adults were adults, and there was no confusion about who was driving the bus.
I look at this list today and realize that they had a creed that fit the Democratic Party beliefs of that era. But these beliefs are now those of the Republican Party. My parents’ belief system was rock solid and founded on real lived experiences. Their belief system was unshakable. If they were alive today, they would be Republicans because that is where the alignment is for families centered on hard work, family, religion, gender equality, and accountability.
If I could hand my mother a ballot today and ask her who she was voting for she would say “The Republican because they are the only sane ones!” She was ahead of her time, a Democrat that realized the Republican Party is where sanity now lives. Today they would be Republicrats!