Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Conversations with my liberal mother

My 91-year old mother is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, formed in the crucible of the Great Depression and not to be swayed. Not that I'd want to sway her; it's perfectly OK with me at this point. I'm just happy she's around and able to have political opinions.

My goal during the run-up to the election, however, was to simply get her to see that Bush was neither stupid nor evil. I succeeded in neither. Nor could I change her mind about the nefarious motivations behind the war in Iraq, and the utter doom and chaos that was bound to ensue there as a result of our bungled invasion.

Post-election, I've assiduously steered clear of politics with her; what's to be gained at this point? But the other night, over pizza, she actually broached the subject and asked my opinion about a few things--the Schiavo case, for example. So, since she seemed to want to talk, I tentatively asked her: what did she think of the Iraq war now, in retrospect? How did she think things are going in the Middle East?

Her answer was that they are going much better than expected. So I couldn't resist asking the next question: "So, do I get to say 'I told you so?' At least, a teeny, tiny, little, infinitesimal bit?"

Her answer was oblique. She leaned forward and confided, "I never liked that Kerry. I'm not sorry he wasn't elected."

I'll take it.


At 5:18 PM, April 06, 2005, Anonymous meander said...

I had a similar experience with my mother (age 85) this past election cycle and leading up to the Iraq war. She defended her anti-Bush stance by saying she was a pacifist and always had been. As proof of this, she declared she had been against the US participation in WW2. I was flabbergasted and tried to explore with her the alternative universe we could all be living in had not our soldiers gone off to fight. She had this notion that we were conquerers and not liberators and , inspite of proof to the contrary, she seemed to express almost a dislike for our country. I had honestly always felt that my mom and were very much alike and how could I not know this huge philosophical difference existed between us. Well, I didn't turn things into a fight - figured she was too senior for me to get all righteous on and ,anyway, she had raised me to respect my elders. After several tip toes into this difference of opinion territory, I finally figured out that she needed some justification for her intense dislike of Bush. She's a big watcher of MSNBC (Chris MAthews and Kieth Oberman) and, whenever I caught one of their shows and talked with her shortly after, I noticed she was very influenced by their "talking points". So, that helped explain things a little- I don't think she has a clue how much effect they've had on her. Actually, in the 2000 election, she had her very own original reason for not voting for Bush- she hated his mouth!!!

At 11:23 PM, April 06, 2005, Blogger John Moreschi said...

One of my dearest friends is a woman in her fifties who is an avid pacifist whose only real dilemma was whether to vote for Kerry of Nader. Much to my welcome surprise she told me, after the Iraq elections, that she hoped that Bush would go down in history as our greatest president because his dreams of security, Middle Eastern democracy, and peace in and with the Middle East all came true.

I didn't press her on how she felt personally about Bush, I figured I would quit while I was ahead.

At 12:00 PM, April 07, 2005, Anonymous neo-neocon said...

John Moreschi--Your story gives me hope. I haven't had anyone spontaneously say anything of the sort to me. Apparently, your friend is one of those brave people who isn't afraid to step out of the ring.

At 1:46 PM, April 08, 2005, Blogger Bookworm said...

My mother, bless her, is in her 80s and listens to me with great patience. I'll manage to sway her on a point (such as Schiavo), and then she'll watch Peter Jennings, and everything is lost. Very frustrating. I swear, if Peter Jennings told her to send him her life savings, she would!

At 5:00 PM, May 03, 2005, Blogger SteveR said...

It's a beautiful little story - thank you for sharing it with us.

>>I'm just happy she's around and able to have political opinions.
You are a good daughter! :-)

At 12:58 PM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

At 6:18 PM, April 06, 2005, meander said...

Propaganda is always the most effective when you believe your thoughts originated from you, instead of what you osmosed from your senses.

It uses the human capacity for self-deception, as a way to defeat survival traits. By making someone believe in something that is counter to their own personal survival.

This didn't work a long time ago, because there just wasn't enough speed to information to make it very real. It all happened in the past. Now, the speed of information makes things as if they are happening "now" right in front of your eyes, but that's not really true.

The mind is fooled into believing that what you see is what is happening, self-deception then kicks in with self-rationalization. and there you go, propaganda succeded.

Being that old doesn't help either. Since, the older you get, the more your genes tell you that changing anything drastically could be a survival killer. If you've smoked for 90 years, and it hasn't killed you yet, why bother stopping? ; )

At 8:24 PM, January 20, 2006, Blogger Active Observer said...

Obviously, the above comment applies just as well to conservative as it does to liberal thought.

Everyone is "brainwashed" to some extent. Politics these days is often the art of brainwashing. Proving a point isn't nearly as important as repeating it until it seems true.

"Kerry is a flip flopper. Kerry is a flip flopper. Kerry is a flip flopper..."

Yes, Kerry he took contradictory positions at times. Who hasn't? GWB certainly has - when running against Gore, he claimed to be against nation-building. That seems like a big flip-flop to me. Oh wait, I feel another one coming on...

"9-11 changed everything. 9-11 changed everything. 9-11 changed everything..."

Sure, I'd love it if "security, Middle Eastern democracy, and peace in and with the Middle East all came true." However, I don't think these are truly Bush's dreams, and this statement is evidence of brainwashing.

The idea that we went into Iraq to promote democracy is a prime example of successful propaganda. It's even entered the minds of those of us opposed to Bush. But there's are a few problems with this theory:

1) There are thousands of dictatorships in the world. It's not realistic to believe that overthrowing dictatorships could be, should be or is our foreign policy.

2) It's not realistic to believe the Bush administration would wage a $2 trillion war in order to bring true democracy to Iraq - a democracy in which the people could elect a government hostile to America's interests.

3) The Bush Administration's support for coups again democratically elected governments in Haiti or Venezuela (Bush I had Nicaragua) make this claim seem rather ludicrous.

Are you so certain that your own beliefs are based on reason and not the product of propaganda?

At 2:16 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger benning said...

That was a priceless vignette, neo. Thanks! Glad you linked to it - I missed it!

At 6:28 AM, February 24, 2006, Anonymous GM Roper said...

How delightful. My mom was fairly conservative, but like me, she distrusted Nixon and Voted for Kennedy in 1960 (being only 14 I didn't get to vote). My dad, who was always to the right of Ghengis Khan didn't speak to her for a week. When Nixon resigned in disgrace in '74 dad acknowledged that maybe she was right after all. Having said that, Moms with character are always a character. Sounds like your mom has character aplenty.


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