When I was very young, my dad was the sort of guy who talked a tough game, but rescued kittens and stray dogs. He was far from perfect, but there was goodness there.
In the early 90’s he began listening to this guy on talk radio with the odd first name of Rush.
Rush told my father that his family struggling to make ends meet was the fault of women of color having dozens of babies and staying on welfare.
Rush assured him that women demonstrating for equal rights were ugly feminazis who couldn’t find a good man, and that LGBTQ people were confused freaks who simply did not deserve equal rights.
And Rush took the step of enlightening my dad that anyone who asked him to broaden his perspective or do the work of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes was ‘hippie,’ ‘socialist,’ and ‘soft.’
Rush taught my father that he was the real victim of American society and that as a white man he was under attack from softies who wanted to redistribute all the things he’d worked so hard for and indoctrinate his child to their socialist ways, protected of course by teachers unions.
For whatever reason, my father believed him.
I mark the time he began listening to Rush as a point where my dad went down the path of becoming someone else. Rush never met my dad, he never personally counseled him, he just talked at him for a couple of hours each day. And my dad took it from there, and listened to other people who told him other worse things, and it snowballed.
Today, my dad truly believes that liberals are actively working to destroy America, and that I am simply an ignorant cog in this massive conspiracy. My dad and I don’t just ‘disagree about politics,’ we disagree about reality.
It’s not that we simply, ‘don’t talk about politics,’ we don’t talk at all. When someone characterizes your sweat and tears to make your country better as simply misguided work for a party that wants to destroy the country, there’s really not much else to say.
I’m fine with this arrangement. It’s hard to miss talking with and having a relationship with someone who thinks you’re the bad guys’ dumb cog.
But I do miss the guy that rescued that gray and white striped kitten who we named Mopar. I wish that guy had never turned on Rush Limbaugh.