The Root of an Evil Conservative

Okay, I’ve now been writing this column for a couple of years, and since I preface most of what I write about with a little slice of my personal background, I’m sure that anyone who has read more than one or two articles already knows more about me than they are comfortable with. I know that not everyone understands my sense of humor, gets my sarcasm, or can stomach my brashness, but there’s a reason I am who I am. There’s a simple explanation as to how I became the person I am today, and it’s spelled… M-O-M.

I was seven years old before I began to spend any real time with my father, and even then, one month out of twelve isn’t much time to beat out the behavioral tendencies ingrained through years of living in a home run by a single mother. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is…if you have trouble with me, then it’s really her fault.

Seriously, it’s almost Mothers Day, and since I’ve got the bully pulpit, I might as well use it to set the record straight. Up until now, I’ve let you know WHAT I think, but maybe this is the time to finally share WHY.

First and foremost, I do consider myself a fiscal conservative. But this isn’t so much the result of the micro- and macro-economics classes I took in college. Rather, it’ probably due to the lessons in budget management I learned growing up. For instance, when times are tight, you don’t borrow against the future, if you still have options to cut back on spending in the present. I learned how to watch TV in a sleeping bag in the winter to save on heating costs. I learned that the plastic margarine container makes a great cereal bowl. And, I found out how many generations can wear the same jacket and tie for class pictures.

Similarly, my mom taught me a lot about personal responsibility, honesty, and accountability.  After all, its one thing for a politician to make promises and pledge action, but it means a little more coming from a woman who turned the age old threat of “Don’t make me pull this car over!” into actually watching your older brother get smaller and smaller in the rear window as she pulled the car off the shoulder of I-75 and slowly drove away. Sure, she eventually stopped and let him run to catch up, but the point was made, and we never failed to take her at her word again.

I also learned quite a bit about work ethic as I watched the woman sacrifice herself, time and time again for her family. She actually sold her house to help put one kid through college and held a job at the University of Dayton which offered tuition remission assistance that enabled me to get my degree. She was a real pro at finding the best angle to attack any problem, even if it was just figuring out where to hide her private stash of peanut M&M’s to keep them away from us kids.

I have strong feelings about charities and social assistance programs having spent much of my childhood being “volunteered” by my mom to distribute goods to the poor, visit shut-ins and serve my church and neighborhood. With a history of working with a variety of non-profit organizations, I have seen what both the government and the church can do with a dollar and it fails in comparison to my mom’s MacGyver-like skill of turning a box of powdered milk, a brick of government cheese and a few coupons into a pantry that never left us feeling hungry.

I’ve never been waterboarded, but I’ve been forced to eat pizza that had fallen on the floor.  I’ve only seen pictures of the Hanoi Hilton, but I did call a 5’ x 8’ closet my bedroom for several years. With a brother who is only 10 months older, our house often looked like a war torn, bombed out, post apocalyptic nightmare, but I can honestly say, that I don’t have the slightest clue what it means to be poor, destitute, or abused. Because no matter the circumstance, my mom always did one thing better than anyone else I have ever met. She made us feel loved. And when you’ve got that, you quickly find out that the rest is practically irrelevant.

So when you get frustrated with my opinions on the war, the economy, or some other political policy, keep in mind that I am who I am because of this one woman. Remember that my perspective comes from a humble childhood, a strong foundation in faith, and healthy respect for character as well as creativity when it comes to parenting.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And now that the entire city of Lakewood knows who’s really responsible for raising me, maybe next year, Mom, you’ll let me get you a card.

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Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 5:36 PM, 05.06.2009