When Christie and I were first married, we knew that our families had very different political beliefs. Actually, they are polar opposites. Spending the holidays with our families is like leaving a DNC fundraising event to attend a Tea Party Rally.
I come from a long line of liberals and Christie was born and raised in the center of California’s conservative Christian Heartland. The fact that we are different races has never been an issue. The fact that our families are on opposite ends of the political spectrum has caused more excitement than we ever thought possible.
One family watches Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann while the other has dedicated followers of Glenn Beck. On one hand you have a family that had experienced racism and discrimination, but has persevered through it all and become very successful. The other family has small business owners who have struggled to create something from nothing.
Our family stories are typical of the areas in which we were raised.
Christie lived on a ranch and was part of Future Farmer’s of America. She grew up in a town of only nine thousand people and was never exposed to the liberal thinking of the place she calls home now.
I grew up in a historically liberal college town in the Bay Area. I remember as a kid in 1972 being shocked that McGovern lost to Richard Nixon. In my short life I had never met a Republican and believed they must be too rare to be enough to elect a man president. Every family I came in contact with was voting for McGovern.
As an officer in the US Army, I began to understand conservative values and beliefs. I also began to learn how both liberals and conservatives are guilty of generalizations and stereotyping. Being raised in the Bay Area, I was able to follow the political career of Dianne Feinstein (Democratic Senator from California) . Her examples taught me how personal experience shapes the beliefs of our politicians. US Senator, Dianne Feinstein has been viewed by many of my more conservative friends as being “anti-gun” yet she is viewed by my liberal friends as being too “pro-military”.
Senator Feinstein fought to get the USS Missouri stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area.. She has always been a great supporter of the military and fought to keep California’s military bases open. Senator Feinstein has, however, been an outspoken supporter of gun control. As a local politician, she was profoundly affected by one event that made her actively fight against people having guns in San Francisco. The first was her discovery of Harvey Milk immediately after Dan White had shot him. In attempting to check his pulse, her finger pierced a bullet wound in Mr. Milk’s wrist.
This personal experience had a profound effect on her and would shape her future policy decisions.
I learned that all politicians are greatly affected by their personal experience. Though we have difficulty with their methods, most of our politicians believe they are doing what is right for our country.
Though our families seemed to live worlds apart there’s one thing that binds our families together. This bond is stronger than a marriage. It is our shared belief in the American dream. It is the belief that hard work always pays off over time.
Because of our belief in the American dream, our families were disgusted by the bailout of America’s wealthiest firms. Rewarding the people who ruined our economy fundamentally goes against everything we were taught about capitalism. It seems that those of us in the middle class are expected to play by the rules and be held accountable for our actions, while the wealthiest institutions that caused this mess are protected. While most of the companies who were given billions are back making record profits, the average middle class American is struggling and uncertain about the future.
We are one big family with different beliefs. We are a microcosm of our country. We work hard at making ends meet. Most families are like that. We only hope that the people who work for us in Washington D.C. share our work ethic and our belief in the American dream.
Both Christie and I hope you and yours have a great Christmas and New Year. We pray that our elected officials work as hard as you do in service to our country.
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