If you are or were ever a young liberal or progressive in a family with older conservative relatives, it’s likely that one of them has thrown that (wrongly attributed) Winston Churchill quotation at you at some point:
“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”
Not only did Churchill not say that, it doesn’t even align with his thinking. But don’t roll your eyes as you tell your elders this. Have pity on them. They were probably listening to Wayne Newton and watching Robert W. Welch, Jr. movies with their friends while all the cool kids were at Woodstock and now they have no stories to tell their grandkids. But I digress…
Being a mother has provided me with a little insight into why it’s actually Republicans who act like spoiled teenagers. Teens, of course, grow up; this week’s healthcare debacle in the House, led by “policy wonk” (ha ha ha!) Paul Ryan shows us that Republicans are struggling to do the same.
Here’s my insight, which came to me while dislodging a Lego–a piece very important to the Battle of Scarif set–from the innards of the garbage disposal yesterday:
Mothers get to make all of the no-fun decisions. I get to choose between which vegetables I will later fight with my children about eating. I get to decide which way we will spend our emergency savings: fixing the car or fixing the van. I say no to everything fun: riding without a seat belt or a bike helmet, adopting stray dogs, sleepover parties with neighbors we’ve just met. I get to decide on how toddler misbehavior gets handled, under what conditions a PG-13 movie is okay for a kid and under what conditions it is not, on what strategies we will use to bring up tween child’s grades, and on who started it, who had it first, and what order kids have to take showers, which shouldn’t have to be a *@!*& decision at all because they’re all going to get them before the night is over. I give all the fun choices–which game we will play, what kind of pizza topping we’ll order, what movie we will watch on family movie night–away.
Above, cheese–the pizza of motherhood.
Society demands that mothers act as scolds–it’s how we keep our kids safe, and when kids are not safe, it’s our fault–and also blames us for being so controlling. The rewards are great, of course, but they take a lifetime to accrue.
And our kids do blame us and resent us, too. If you were a teen once, you probably at some point (perhaps for a very long time) were pretty sure you knew how to be an adult better than your parents. You may have even mentioned this in a sulky comment or screaming match. When I’m a parent…!
But what if they actually had (or did) leave you in charge? You would have stayed awake all night playing video games and eating Taco Bell for every meal. For, maybe, like, years.
That’s the present-day Republican Party. They can cry and scream about how awful the Democrats are because they haven’t had to actually do anything except symbolically attempt to repeal Obamacare. They sulk that America isn’t living up to Ayn Rand’s dreams. (Side note: Outgrowing Ayn Rand is a sign of the development of the frontal lobe, which is why most young people are done with her by their junior year of college.)
Above, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his gawky, adolescent, delusional, intolerable, utterly-unprepared-for-leadership phase.
For the first time in more than a decade–and only the third time (two short periods during the GWB years) since the Depression–Republicans are fully in charge: House, Senate, White House. They can’t rely on Democrats from stopping them from making destructive decisions. It’s easy to complain about Mom when you know she’s not going to let you do stupid stuff. You might even use her as an excuse as to why you can’t do something dangerous and complain about her at the same time. It’s okay! We take on that role willingly. Tell your friends I’m a bitch, but don’t get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. I’ll always come to pick you up.
But now it’s time to be a grown up. And Republicans have shown that they can’t. They call Democrats naive and unrealistic, but what’s unrealistic is to expect Americans to believe that a tax cut to billionaires is a patriotic duty.
Republican’s hatred of the poor and people of color, which they try to disguise as patriotism, works fine to gin up votes and donations. It doesn’t work when you try to enact it by taking away much-needed help in the battle against opioid addiction or maternity coverage. Even Confederate flag waving Trump voters recognize that they aren’t gaining freedom when rural hospitals close. This is why most Americans support a simpler, more transparent, more affordable version of the ACA: single-payer health care.
Trump promised Republicans that they would win so much they’d get tired of winning. Instead, they’ve been lazy losers so long that any talent or skill they had in leading has been forgotten.
Do fathers get to make boring, sad choices too? Of course. But I’m writing about my experience. You can ask my husband about his when he gets done vacuuming and washing our 15 year old minivan.