My brother, with whom I spent the last two days in Vermont, is decidedly apolitical, but I can`t say the same for a cousin we decided to visit and another cousin who called from Las Vegas. That would be Eddie, the black jack dealer who`s actually called into my show from time to time. Eddie would represent the moderate element of our family. He dislikes his senator Harry Reid (although not as much I dislike him--no one could top me there--I loathe Harry Reid more than any other human being on the political scene) but Eddie was never too big on Sharon Engle either. I got the sense he`d like to see this debt ceiling issue settled to everyone`s satisfaction.
I remain with the freshman tea party Republicans who are unwilling to compromise. We need to face this overspending now, once and for all, and unfortunatey, a crisis is the only way we`ll ever do it. There may be some short term pain, but that`s nothing compared to the pain we`ll be passng on to future generations if we fail to swallow tough medicine prior to August 2. This crisis is like a two by four which we need to use to hit the big spenders in Washington over the head (figuratively speaking of course; I wouldn`t want to arouse the wrath of people like kathythes with any politically incorrect metaphors).
But I digress. The point is I am decidedly more conservative than Eddie from Las Vegas, but the cousin--my age--we visited in Middlebury is another story completely. Mind you, these are all relatives from my mother`s side of the family. My grandfather (Welch American, a farmer and part-time gambler--illegally of course) and most of his children--my aunts and uncles-- were of Yankee Republican stock, most assuredly conservatives.
But as I`ve noted in the past, Vermont has done a 100 percent turnaround since I grew up there in the 60s as was evident from my conversation with this cousin. I suspect she`s an extreme left winger, and my suspicions were realized to the point where my brother and her husband kept trying to change the subject when she and I got into politics.
While we`re all social libertarians--and proud of it--there`s a strain that`s developed in my conservative family that could best be descibed (I trust she doesn`t follow my blog) as left wing loonies. Let`s tax the rich more, especially big oil companies, she insisted. It was almost like she was parroting Rachel Madcow and MSNBC talking points.
I knew we`d disagree but she kept asking my opinion, and you know me, I couldn`t lie. I told her what I`ve been saying here for months. Government must live within its means, but I`ve actually added a new twist. Pointing out that more than 50 percent of Americans pay no taxes at all, I ran this idea up the flag pole--we should all pay the same taxes. You mean, her husband intoned, the same percentage of taxes. Actually, no that`s not what I mean. We should all pay the same amount in terms of real dollars, an idea so radical I readily admit, that I`ve never voiced it before nor have I heard anyone else.
I hope I wasn`t saying it just to get her goat, but that`s exactly what it did. Remember in the past I`ve mentioned my cousin Kurt who just barely lost out in the race for Mayor of Burlington a few years ago. I thought Kurt was the most conservative of all of us, but this cousin from Middlebury said I`m worse than Kurt (or better than Kurt depending on where one comes from).
Oh my...at least we`re all for such things as gay marriage. In fact while I was helping to get it passed here last term, cousin Kurt was one of a handful of Vermont Republicans who joined Democrats there in overriding the gubernatorial veto.
When it comes to fiscal policy, I sense my mother`s family has all corners of the political spectrum covered, but apparently the most liberal ones are still living in Vermont while Eddie and I are long gone.
It`s far safer to talk about how nieces and nephews and distant cousins are doing. I guess my apolitical brother has the right idea, but hey, that`s what a trip to Vermont (circa 2011; with its socialist Senator) will produce. Next time, I guess I should catch a plane to Las Vegas.