“When did you know you were a Democrat?”
“Well, I prefer to say I’m Lefty McLiberal, but for the sake of argument we’ll stick with Democrat. Honestly? I think I was born one.”
LilZ and I had that exchange recently. I didn’t go into more detail as the timing was bad and we were surrounded by McCain supporters, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that question and my answer in the last few days. Especially as it relates to LilZ’s own developing political identity.
When I say I was “born” this way, I don’t mean that the fiscal and social liberalism was programmed into my genetic code. (Although, if it was it would probably be between the gene for curly hair and the gene for my love of office supplies.) What I mean is that those ideas were set into my personal framework at an early age. Whether it’s nature or nurture, I’m not sure. But – I’ve rarely ever strayed from the ideals I hold true today. Maybe it’s because my Dad was always accepting of everyone, regardless of background. Maybe it was his extreme generosity to those in need. Maybe it was my years of listening to the Grateful Dead and wearing tie-dyed t-shirts. All I know is that, somewhere in there, the seed of my political beliefs was planted. Since my father is not Lefty McLiberal like I am, he may be mortified to find he is partly to blame.
I almost wish I did know exactly how/when my political beliefs were shaped. I would love to be able to force my own beliefs on my children. (What? I’m not supposed to admit that?) I would love to be raising a brood of progressives, but all of us who differ from our parents in any way know this one truth: The more you try to force something on your children, the more they’ll want to reject it.
So – I take my kids to the rallies and to the debate watch parties. I talk to them openly about what is going on and how I feel about it. I want them to know my beliefs…and I want them to see me actively supporting politicians that will fight for what I believe in. I also want them to at least be respectful to those who disagree. And to know that even those who disagree can teach us something valuable if we are open enough. What they do with these lessons and how they vote in adulthood is their decision to make, not mine. If they choose to vote for a conservative somewhere down the road, I’ll deal with it.
(Just kidding! Nothing against country music!)