Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dear Pops: Happy Father's Day from Netroots Nation

Thomas Reed Shay (a.k.a. Big Tom)
Alone on Father's Day. That occurred to me as I awoke this morning. I'm in Minneapolis, Chris is in Cheyenne, Kevin is in Tucson and Annie in Denver. By the end of the day, Chris and I will be together on Father's Day, which is important to both of us. Our kiddos have their own lives, as they should.

My father, Thomas Reed Shay, passed away eight years ago. Wonder what he would have made of the Netroots Nation conference? He turned my age of 60 in 1983, when we were knee-deep in the Reagan era. He was happy with the Reagan era and I was not. He was a moderate conservative, one of those people in the South who first went from Democratic to Republican for Nixon in 1968 and again in 1972. The beginnings of the vaunted Republican Southern Strategy, which culminated in two terms of Ronald Reagan chipping away at federal government programs and protections. And now look what we have.

My father would have found some common ground among the working people at Netroots Nation. He would have objected to some of the tough talk against Republicans. Not sure if he would have much in common with Tea Party Republicans such as Michelle Bachmann, a guest speaker at The Right Online conference held across the street from Netroots Nation. T.R. Shay was a William F. Buckley fan and watched him regularly. Free enterprise, hard work, small government. He believed in all of those principles. So do I.

He was the first in his family to go to college and he did it on the G.I. Bill after four years (two in Europe) as Government Issue (G.I.). He bought his first house with no down payment courtesy of the U.S. Government. He worked on government contracts for Martin-Marietta (now Lockheed-Martin) building ICBM missile silos across the West. Later, he worked on the space program with G.E. and NASA. Government programs.

He was a Florida state government employee (now an endangered species, thanks to wacky Republicans) and later had his own accounting business. He was the first one of us to own a personal computer -- the Apple IIe. We considered it a strange and wondrous thing. He seemed at home with it. He built his own crystal radio sets as a boy in the 1930s and, in the 1950s, built his own hi-fi. Not surprising that he was a radio operator with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II.

If my father were still alive, would he be a blogger? I have no doubt that he would be a confirmed user of Facebook. His handle would be Big Tom, which is what his grandkids called him -- at his insistence ("I'm too young to be a grandfather!") If he blogged, he would be somewhere in the middle, caught between moonbats such as myself and wingnuts such as Andrew Breitbart He might also find himself closer to what I do, as the center has moved to the Right at the insistence of the Right.

As you can see, I'm thinking about my father today. We didn't always agree. But he was always my father. I miss him.

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