My father and I are a lot alike. We have the same nose, we like a good road trip, and we’re both terrible singers. But when it came to politics, things used to get a little heated at our house. You see, he was a longtime Republican and I was an 8-year old Democrat.
When I was growing up, my dad was a congressional staffer during the Reagan and Bush administrations. He used to take me to his Republican boss’ office on Capitol Hill, where I would sit in the cushy leather chairs and slowly poke away at my dad’s sanity with questions and comments about how he could possibly be a Republican. Long before I could participate, I followed him into voting booths, critiquing his choices afterward and urging him to vote Democrat next time. He didn’t budge.
But as I got older and started college, our political conversations became more meaningful. As a veteran and a practicing Catholic, my dad held very different views on military engagement and LGBT marriage equality than I did. But as the years went on, he got to know my gay friends, and we discussed current events as two adults do – with mutual respect and civility. I made myself clear, and my dad listened.
Meanwhile, his faith in the Republican leadership had started to dissolve. He told me he became fed up with Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and with the Iraq war. And then, in 2008, Barack Obama ran for President. He spoke of a strong middle class and a responsible end to the war in Iraq.
So for the first time in his life, my dad supported a Democrat. He took his passion and his experience and started knocking on doors in New Hampshire. Today, he says he’s proud that I’m currently an Organizing Fellow with Organizing for America here in California and he plans on volunteering in New Hampshire again this year. We both utilize programs created by the Affordable Care Act, and we shared a high five when President Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage. Finally, my dad and I can add something else to the list of things we agree on – it’s time to move forward.