My parents are liberals. My parents are both liberals, progressive minded people. They don’t know it yet but they are. The prototypical conservative voter. White, older than 50, working in a blue collar job. Sufficiently middle class, likes to hunt and fish. The so called base that the republicans claim as their own.
They say my parents, and the state that they belong to is a Red State. A constant state of conservatism that will never be overcome by liberalism, never succumb to the “evil” of believing in a progressive society. When my brother came out to my father he didn’t leave, he didn’t insult him, he didn’t look to the bible or quote scripture. Instead on some late college night on the phone my father whispered “I know he’s just broken up with his boyfriend. I wonder if he’s doing ok. Make sure of that”
My parents took in my uncle when cancer struck his body. My grandmother had lived with us for years, coughing and dying in a room downstairs. My mom brought her to appointments and watched as the cancer took her lungs and bodies. Watched as she became mother and caregiver to the one who had been those things and more to her. Her sister watched her final days in a hospital bed in a room upstairs. Now my mother and father repeat this process with my uncle in a hospital bed.
I wonder what it must be like, to take someone in after seeing such death up close for such a huge part of your life. To wonder what the path this time would be? Remission and a healthy life? Or the slow downfall of someone?
They convinced my parents that asking for a working system, one that exist globally for nations all across the Earth, that asking for a system that demands care for its most vulnerable citizens was paramount to burning a flag. They convinced my parents that it is un American to ask for a “non American” health system. That we have a system and no improvements should happen. The status quo must remain. At all cost to the users. As they grow older, as their friends grow older, as opioids and drugs become a regular daily task. They are told that they must pay more and more and more for every last clear breath. To do anything but would be to destroy the fabric of our country.
It cost my dad for a surgery to help him breathe. A surgery to prevent him from sitting in the chair at christmas unable to catch his breath or feel anything more than an annoying head full of congestion and pain. My mom jokes that having her twins was like bringing home two mercedes.
I can’t imagine what it cost my grandmother, what it cost my parents, what it cost my uncle, what it cost my aunt. What it cost in days worked. What it cost in hours stressed. I can’t imagine what it must have cost in days spent crying, or nights unable to sleep. I can’t imagine the price of not knowing, of wondering if the x ray will bring back good signs. I can’t imagine the price of looking at a bill, a bill that separates your loved one, your mother, your father, your brother, from life or death.
My parents are liberal. And it is not their fault. For decades we have been trying to tell them its ok, it's ok for them to express to themselves and to their friends that they are. But in the south, in the deep heat of a red state there is nothing worse than being a progressive. Red rock republicans have spent the the majority of my parents lives dictating to them the terms of their political identity.
You are Republican, don’t tell people how you vote, you are our base, you don’t want to be a liberal, you don’t want to be a yuppie, republicans, conservatives they are the only one who get the forgotten Americans. Through every racist filled speech by the president, through every policy limiting the rights of their son, through every confederate plastered truck, through every Budweiser ad, and football game, and rodeo express meeting, the culture around them has solidified that the place to be was in the red state. The red state that ask everything of them but gives nothing in return. The red state that tells them how to act and who to be, what to eat, what to wear, where to worship, what to listen to, what news station to listen to. The red state that continually dictates for them their culture and neighborhood.
My parents are liberal. Bleeding from every ounce of their body is a blue blood that tells them to care for people, that tells them to give the shirt off their back. That tells them to work long hard grueling hours to make the world a slightly better place for their kids. Flowing from them is the long nights reading to their kids, the compassion they taught,the inclusionary ideals they preached. The belief that all people are created equal and should be judged on the same terms. The belief that helping others, providing for them is more important than the price tag. The belief that you work hard to provide for others, that your money is better sent buying gifts for loved ones, or buying a new battery for someone stranded on the side of the road.
Flowing from them is the deep connection with the state and neighborhood they have set down their roots. The excitement at new faces who fill our once barren neighborhood with diverse ideas and cultures. My parents are liberal and they should know it.
My parents exist in a Blue State that they don’t know of yet. A state that protects and cares for its youth, one that encourages the progression of ideas, one that demands representation and equality, one of tolerance and acceptance, of ideas shared along the table, of bread being broken and wounds healed. My parents exist in a Blue State that demands conversations, hard tired conversations that shapes the future of a relationship to come, that doesn’t silence the voice that ask why a system exist only to benefit the wealthy. My parents exist in an earth shattering Blue State, a wave moving through. Like the waves that shaped the beaches we grew up on. Like the rivers that cut deep mountains and valleys in the Red Rocks around them. My parents exist in a Blue State emerging.