In November, my father voted for Barack Obama. If you knew my father (Bernie Smith, retired doctor, lives in Naples, usually clad in Tommy Bahama gear), you’d realize how truly stunning that is. Bernie has only voted for two Democrats in his lifetime—John F. Kennedy, because he was an Irish Catholic from Boston, as was my father; and Lyndon B. Johnson, only because he thought Barry Goldwater was “crazy.”
My father voted for Richard Nixon (twice), Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (twice), George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush (once).
Yes, it was George W. Bush who turned Bernie away from the Dark Side. My father was never a huge fan of the governor of Texas—having supported John McCain during the Republican primary in 2000—but he was conservative, and my dad’s conservative.
Much to my father’s chagrin, however, he had unwittingly raised three Democrats. During family gatherings, the topic would always turn to politics (usually because I would say, “Now, let’s turn to politics!”), and my sisters and I would ask Bernie about his views on candidates, issues, giving allowances to grown women, etc.
After 9/11, Bernie assured us that if Bush invaded Iraq, he wouldn’t vote for him again. On Christmas 2003, we decided to hold him to it, reminding him that he had promised not to vote for Bush and that he should vote for John Kerry instead. Instead, he abstained from voting in 2004.
In the interest of fact checking, I called Bernie, who had just finished up his golf game (and probably settling in to watch the Weather Channel before happy hour).
“Dad, I’m writing this story about lifelong Republicans who voted for Obama.”
“Dad, you’re not an Independent.”
“I’m registered Independent, I just always vote Republican.”
I went on to ask him why he didn’t vote for Bush for reelection. He said he was convinced, along with everyone else, that Bush was going to go to war, it was the wrong war, and Saddam Hussein wasn’t the one who attacked us. “The