A week with my Tea Party brother
Too often we drink from our own bathwater. We hang out with like-minded friends and watch only the news networks that bolster our beliefs. As a liberal, I force myself to endure “Fox News Sunday” but honestly, that point of view just makes me dig in even more. So how do we walk in the shoes of someone else’s politics?
I have an inside track on the Tea Party via my little brother who lives in Arizona. Ricky (Richard as the rest of the world knows him) is 14 months younger and a million miles to my right. But we have non-political, shared interests and we like to make each other laugh.
Last month, I invited my right-winged brother to vacation at my Lake Michigan home. We gave each other “Game of Thrones” names. I’m Tereesi. He is Richard Jon Snow. We binge-watched the third season of “Orange is the New Black.” And we had a great time.
Early in the visit I saw this as an opportunity. Not necessarily to climb into the belly of the beast, but to take a peek inside.
It just so happened the Confederate flag came down in South Carolina during his stay. That morning he was watching the news in the kitchen while I was making breakfast. He shook his head and said, “It’s so sad that flag killed those nine people.”
When it comes to sarcasm, we could actually be twins.
I was exasperated by his insensitivity. But the truth is Ricky, and his wife, proudly display their garage sale Aunt Jemima cookie jars as Obama memorabilia. I don’t know why or when my brother became a racist. We attended fully integrated schools and had black friends growing up. It makes me ashamed but it doesn’t stop me from loving him or seeing the good in him. I mentally counted to 10 and then explained the symbolism of those flags featured in Dylann Roof’s social media posts.
Ricky just stared at the TV, not budging an inch. I couldn’t leave it alone, so with his same caustic tone I said, “Yeah and it’s also too bad that swastika killed six million Jews.”
And that was that. We turned off the TV, sat down to our basted eggs and bacon, and made plans for the beach.
Encouraged by the civility of that exchange, I later asked him who he hoped would get the GOP nomination. He said he is disgusted with the Republican Party and is now a registered Independent. Ricky hates Jeb nearly as much as Hillary. He is leaning towards “The Baconater” Ted Cruz.
My brother thought he’d blow my mind by revealing he can’t stand Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. His reason? They talk over their guests. Yeah, that’s the worst about those guys.
Conspiracy theories run amuck in the Tea Party and Ricky touched on a few.
The Pope. Francis will be the last pope ever, says my brother. I thought he just misheard the Pope’s comments that he planned to retire and not wait until death to leave his post. But Ricky Googled it for me. It appears some 12th century bishop predicted “. . . there will be only one more pope after Benedict, and during his reign comes the end of the world.” The bishop, Saint Malachy, supposedly had a vision that included the names of every pope going forward, 112 of them! I wonder if in that same vision he also saw Mt. Rushmore and not only identified the U.S. presidents but in the correct order as well. Whatever.
The Rapture. Apparently that’s still a thing. They just keep moving the date. My brother told me his wife was a little upset when whatever the last predicted date for them to get whisked away to heaven never happened. Seems their life savings now have to stretch a bit more. Bummer.
The Stock Market. Team Ricky has the inside story of a bigger, badder crash that will occur in the fall of 2015. Thanks, Obama.
Benghazi. Was on purpose.
This was no Camp David Peace Summit, but I will say my brother and I concluded we could share our polar opposite views and still love and respect each other. And it turns out our differences aren’t limited to politics.
At one point during the visit Ricky looked as if he’d seen a ghost as he held his iPad with breaking news. By the look on his face I feared another mass murder or plane crash. “You won’t believe this,” he said. “Subway dropped Jared.”
It seemed the Subway spokesman was in some hot water, that has since boiled over. I thought Jared was a Republican and we were headed for another conspiracy concoction. I asked Ricky why he was so upset. He said, “I love Subway. We go there every time we go out to eat.”
I guess it’s not always about Obama.