Monday, December 06, 2010

Do Tea Partiers Wear Seatbelts?

The last time I saw my Dad was the weekend of 9/11.  We had breakfast at a place near his then-home in Redmond, Washington.  My Dad and I always hugged goodbye but I’ll never forget the hug in the parking lot that day as flights resumed back to Durham.

Eleven days later I got word he had died suddenly, on his way home from breakfast at age 77.  Dad is my insight into a lot of things that are hard for me to understand like the Tea Party movement and lock-step Republicans demanding no more benefits for the unemployed unless they are paid for with budget cuts while holding out so people who make more than a million dollars a year are included in temporary tax cut extensions that will run up the deficit by $700 billion.

In many ways he lived the inconsistencies of the elected official who ran on repeal of health insurance reform but then whined over the one month waiting period before his generous federal healthcare plan took effect or the tea party activists online who demand COLA increases even though there has been no inflation.

Dad hated any form of regulation and “just because.”  His children and grown grandchildren fondly remember his adamant refusal to wear seatbelts even after they became law or his subversion of the 55 mile per hour speed limits during the ‘70s energy crisis.   He would have turned 87 during my late October, 6,000 mile cross country road trip to scout a similar venture next year by motorcycle.  The speed limits were almost always 70 or 75 and it was surprising if not alarming how many of the states I crossed obviously didn’t require helmets.  I suspect though he would have nodded approval.

I owe a lot of my career success to my Dad, such as learning to understand and discuss issues from several viewpoints and the most valuable career gift of all, critical thinking.    When the video embedded to the right was brought to my attention by my friend Bill Geist and Steve Hall’s post on Adgrabber, it made me wonder just how much of what appears as stubbornness is really about the message.   Maybe this message vs. “the law” would have made helped my Dad get over his civil disobedience toward seatbelts?  Nah, probably not.  My Idaho-rancher Dad never was the the sentimental type.

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