12 July 2008

Party Identification

I came across this from Mr Fish just now. It will come in handy as I talk about models of party identification in my course here in Ann Arbor later this week. Those models try to account for why, as is typically the case, kids tend to share the same political views as their parents even though they don't, for example, share their parent's taste in music. You may see where I'm going here.

The cartoon reminded me too of driving the roughly 25 miles back and forth from Rochester to my house while my son Jeff was still alive. There was a period when we listened to Steve Earle's Just an American Boy pretty much every day on the commute. This is a "live" recording and, on one of his monologues ("Democracy"), Earle opines: "... the most important thing to remember is that no matter what anybody tells you, it is never, ever unpatriotic or un-American to question any fucking thing in a democracy." The record then swerves off into a truly terrific cover of Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding." The tune is really, really good played loud.

In any case, it turns out that Jeff, who was then 11 or 12, absorbed the monologue more or less word for word. I understand that he once used the last part of Earle's comment above as a retort to his mother when she reprimanded him for talking back as she was trying to get him to do some chore or other. While I would never condone that, I can't think of a better political lesson for Jeff (or any other kid) to have learned even at so tender an age.

If all goes well, my littlest boy August's mother will be bringing him to spend a couple of weeks with me once I return from Ann Arbor. August doesn't get to see me or big his brother Doug too much, which means that he'll have to get by with concentrated doses of party ID.



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