There is hope for a future without political acrimony—just ask my parents.
The author’s parents—Mary Page Evans and Tom Evans, a Republican congressman from Delaware—stand next to George Bush (left), who at the time was Ronald Reagan’s running mate in the 1980 presidential election.
Political and civil unrest. Riots in the streets over race and war. Accusations of dirty tricks in presidential campaigns. The Watergate Hotel in the headlines.
Are we talking about the 1970s or the present day? I never imagined the political climate could get more polarized than when I was growing up in the Nixon era amid Vietnam and the Black Panthers. People were sharply divided then, and no one embodied that divide better than my parents. Mom was a devout Democrat, while dad, a Republican congressman from Delaware, was the co-chair of the Republican National Committee for part of the Nixon administration. Every election year, they joked that they’d cancel out each other’s votes.
Today they love to tell a story from the early ’70s when my mother joined an anti-Vietnam War march in Washington. My father’s RNC driver dropped her off amid the protesters. “Are you sure this is where you want me to leave you, Mrs. Evans? Does your husband know?”
That evening, she joined my father for a party at the Watergate. Sunburned from a day of protesting in paisley prints and bell-bottom jeans, mom struck up a conversation with a White House aide about Nixon’s infamous “Enemies List.”
“That sounds wonderful,” she joked. “I’d love to be on that list.”
“You are,” retorted the operative. And with that, he walked away, leaving my liberal-leaning mother at a loss for words—probably for the first time in her life.
Now married for 55 years, my parents’ opposing political views are proof that bipartisan bedfellows can and do exist. Which should give us all hope. Like my mother, I’m a devoted Dem, and in a few months, I will be meeting a Republican at the end of the aisle. If my parents are any example, differences don’t have to be deal breakers—in fact, they can make for a more perfect union.