A reader writes:
My 81-year-old father, a retired Marine and lifelong straight-ticket Republican, has gone through an amazing shift over the last four years. When McCain had named Palin as his running mate, my dad defended the choice because she "was a fighter and everyone underestimates her". Four years ago he quaked in his boots and railed against Obama, who "was going to take everybody’s guns away" and was responsible for the shortage in ammunition (part of the plot to take away guns was his plan to remove ammo from the store shelves). Obama didn’t have the experience to end the wars. Obama wouldn’t be able to deal with the economy. Our country was going to hell in a handbasket with that man in charge.
This election? Straight-ticket Democratic voter and big contributor to both Obama’s campaign and Claire McCaskill’s senatorial campaign against Todd Akin. As we would drive by homes where Akin or Romney yard signs were displayed, he’d say, "There’s a lot of crazy people in this neighborhood". A month ago my mother called me, worried that my father had become too militantly Democratic and wished he would settle down just a little bit in his zeal. We can sit down as a family and intelligently discuss politics, and I can’t express how wonderful it is to share this with him for the first time in my life.
To what do we attribute this change? I believe it started with having multiple children, grandchildren and in-laws who didn’t have health insurance due to self-employment and the difficulty with getting an individual policy.
My father worked 40 years in the government and always had wonderful insurance and a lot of security in terms of retirement, and I believe he wanted the same for all of his children and grandchildren. He realized that the guns weren’t going away (he’s an avid skeet shooter), that the president was an intelligent man who approached the nation’s problems with calm, deliberate reasoning and an eye towards the greater good. Dad paid attention to the obstructionism within Congress and was disgusted by these supposed "patriots" who were focused on preventing recovery. Obama was bringing the soldiers back home, which was a huge deal to a man who saw far too much of the damage caused by war during his Vietnam stint.
It takes a lot to change a man’s position so enormously. I’m more proud of my father than I have ever been and see him as a lesson to the Republican party. If they are losing someone like him, how many more must there be?