Sunday, May 14, 2017
She was a politically engaged person. Although more to the right than the left, during the 1930s, she was well aware that something evil was brewing in Germany, something that decent people and countries would have to fight. The spectacle of Nazi atrocities led her to reject bigotry when she recognized it, though she carried vast reservoirs of WASP supremacist assumptions about which she was oblivious. Having listened breathlessly to the European war on shortwave radio, she feared and hated war itself. Though a lifelong Republican, she could not bring herself to vote for Barry Goldwater; his bellicose conservatism was not hers.
Her Republican allegiance was not mean or angry in the current style. She raised me to do grassroots election work, keeping a card file of registered voters in the neighborhood and chivvying them to turn out. But she expected to lose those elections. Buffalo was a working class Democratic city; for better (and often worse), her kind were not the local government.
I don't recall how she responded to Watergate; we were politically distant in those years. She was not a particular fan of Ronald Reagan, though his marriage to a graduate of Smith College where she had spent four exciting, independent years atoned for his Californian swagger. George H.W. Bush was more her sort; I think she saw him as more New England than Texas.
She lived just long enough to endure the revelation of Bill Clinton's dalliance with a White House intern. She was not amused. In fact, I think revulsion from his boorish behavior probably would have delayed a political trajectory that would have made her a Democrat by now. She believed in women's rights, in reproductive choice, and in general decency. She would have liked Obama -- I can hear her saying "such a nice family."
I think Donald Trump would have disgusted and frightened her, as he disgusts and frightens me.
The photo is from about 1950.