by: Sarah B
My father is an incredibly unashamed conservative. He has been this way for as long as I can remember. He is a conservative Republican who watches Fox News on the regular (and actually does believe that they are “fair and balanced”) and enjoys Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck (I know, I know, both of them). He sends me text messages all the time about why he doesn’t want me to vote for Obama, why he doesn’t like Obama, and how I will become a conservative like him when I am no longer “young and blinded by idealism.” My father is also my hero, my best friend, and one of my biggest supporters.
So hear me out for a second. Let me tell you a bit about my father.
My father, Mark, grew up in a pretty average middle-class family. He has one other brother and two sisters, one older and one younger. His parents—my grandparents—built their own house in the northern suburbs of Chicago before doing so became synonymous with being wealthy. His parents—my grandparents—were members of families who had very recently immigrated to Chicago. My grandmother’s family came from Sweden; my grandfather’s family from Poland. My father graduated from a private Catholic high school and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he worked for a year before going to college. We have plenty of photos of him from this time in which he is often seen sporting white clam-diggers and what we affectionately call the “blonde curly wig.” (It was neither curly nor a wig, but his hair was chin-length and wavy and had been bleached blonde by the sun—when I was born, my father had black hair, it has since gone silver.) He then attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and graduated with a B.A. in History.
From there he moved back to Chicago and eventually met my mother, the liberal Democrat daughter of two life-long liberal Democrats. She still, to this day, rolls her eyes whenever my father goes on his political rampages and tells me that instead of arguing with him over politics, I should just nod my head and say “mhm” at the appropriate moments. They joke with each other about how their votes always cancel each other out. My mother thinks this is why my father is so eager to “convert” me and my younger sister.
Now let me explain why my father is so dear to me.
My mother is a recovering drug addict. This is something I have forgiven her for after many many years of deeply-entrenched pain and subconscious feelings of abandonment, mistrust, and blame. She has been clean for over 15 years and I will never stop being proud of her for going to rehab, staying there for the entire duration of the program, and getting herself help. My mother left for rehab when I was around five or six years old. She moved to Delray Beach, Florida and was there for what felt like forever. I remember not knowing where she was and thinking that she had left because I was a bad girl and she didn’t want to be my mother anymore. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized she had checked herself into rehab during this time. That was when the healing began.
While my mother was in rehab getting clean, my father’s sisters urged him to divorce her. They wanted him to leave with me and my sister, for our sakes. They didn’t believe that my mother was fit to be our mother. I know they had their reasons, and I will not attack either of them for what they did or said to try to get my father to abandon my mother, but every time I imagine what my life would be like if he had listened to them, every time I imagine how he must have felt, I want to burst into tears.
But he didn’t leave.
Instead, my father stuck with her. Single-handedly, he kept our family together. My father loved my mother, and still loves her, so much that he took care of me and my little sister while working a full-time job. He made us breakfast every morning. He read to us from the newspaper. He made sure we got to school. He helped us with our homework. He talked to us each individually, at the end of the day, before we went to sleep. He read us each a story. He tucked us in. He stuck with my mother, supporting her the best way he could, even taking me and my sister down to Florida to visit her once she was allowed to have us visit her there. He gave us her letters and her presents, and always made sure we knew how much she loved us. He did all of this without anyone’s help, in the face of adversity, while two of his dearest loved ones, his sisters, his family, were urging him to do otherwise. My parents have now been married for almost 25 years.
For this, my father is my hero.
For this, I will never call Republicans monsters. I will never spout hatred against conservatives. And I will never agree with people who do. Granted, I do not agree with the Republican platform. I do not agree with conservative viewpoints. I believe that the vast majority of the beliefs held by Republicans and conservatives are hurtful, damaging, antiquated, foolish, and prevent progress in our society. I identify as a liberal and a Democrat. But it hurts me so much to see the venomous hate that so many liberals and Democrats have for conservatives and Republicans. Because one of the most loving, supportive, kindhearted people in my life is a conservative Republican, and when you spout that hatred, when you say that all conservatives and Republicans are misogynists, when you say that all conservatives and Republicans hate women, when you say that all conservatives and Republicans hate anyone within the LGBTQA community, you are attacking him. The man who held my family together, who listened to his heart when he could have listened to reason, the man who has raised me to be kind and compassionate and loving, the man who has accepted me and supported me for who I am with no strings attached. You are calling him a monster.
You are calling the man who has always loved and cherished his wife, even when she was held firmly in the clutches of the disease called “addiction” a misogynist.
You are saying that the man who has always supported his daughters, who has told his two little girls that they can be anyone and do anything they want, that they can change the world with kindness and with love, hates women.
You are saying that the man who gave me a big hug and said nothing but “I love you Sarah, unconditionally” when I came out to him as bisexual hates everyone in the LGBTQA community.
The man who loves me unconditionally. The way every parent should love their child.
Saying “all Republicans” or “all conservatives” or “Republicans” or “conservatives” does not mean most. It means all. When you put those words in front of an insult, in front of a hateful phrase, you are including every individual who identifies themselves in any capacity as Republican or conservative.
I will not stand for this hate anymore. I will not stand for any hate, from either side. I will not stand for the dehumanization of any individual, whether I agree with their beliefs or their political stance or not. I will defend this man, my father, to my death, the same way I know he will defend me. The same way he has defended me throughout my entire life.
Sarah B is currently a senior at DePaul University. Her major is in Art History with a concentration in Latin American Art and her accompanying minor is in Spanish. She is passionate about Latin American cultures, good tequila, learning, smush-faced animals, and the TV show Community because she and her sister are Abed and Troy, respectively. In her spare time she can be found reading various books that have no similarities in theme, wandering the city like a lost child, and watching funny videos on the internet.