Like most people I guess, the two people in this world who had the largest impact on me were my parents. Considering how large they loom in my memories and in my heart, it is hard for me to comprehend that my Mom has been gone from this Vale of Tears for almost a third of a century, and my Dad for just over a quarter of a century. I look at myself now and I recognize that most of what I am is an amalgam of their qualities that I received, either through genetics or what they taught me when I was growing up. Intellectually probably my debt to my mother is greater. She was the reader of the family, and I received from her a love of verbal sparring, logic and an endless thirst for knowledge. Politically I received more of my inheritance from my father. My Mom was inclined to the liberal side of the ledger, although the Democrats lost her vote when abortion became an issue.
My Dad, and go here to read about him, came from a long line of Republicans, probably dating back to the Civil War. My branch of the McClareys never had much money, but we usually voted Republican. My Dad had no great fondness for the Republican party, having a low opinion of almost all politicians whatever they called themselves, but he had certain beliefs and instincts that led him to vote for Republicans. Always something of a rebel, too much Irish blood in his veins not to be, he always thanked the Union steward in his plant who handed out voter guides because it was handy for him to know who his Union endorsed so he could vote the opposite way, he disliked most things big: Big Business, Big Unions and, especially, Big Government. It is from my father, back in the early sixties, that I first heard the Libertarian, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Dad taught me that everything in this world has a price tag, and nothing is free but the grace of God.
While not being fond of the rich, he once succinctly defined feminism as “Games for rich women.”, he had nothing but scorn for those who sought to live off the government. The salaries that Union bosses got used to drive him up the wall. The dishonesty of television commercials would sometimes elicit a derisive snort from my laconic father. Any sort of sham or pretense produced a strongly negative reaction from my father who was a naturally honest man. The idea that government could solve problems, outside of perhaps winning wars, he regarded as a simple lie. When Walter Cronkite used to say at the end of his news broadcast on CBS, “Well that’s the way it is.”, my father’s rolled eyes gave his assessment of how much he accepted that contention.
In regard to the 2016 elections, other than knowing that he would sooner have lost a right arm than vote for Hillary Clinton, I only know one thing for sure about Dad and his reaction to the elections: he would have loved how the confident prediction of almost all pollsters that Hillary would win came tumbling down. Dad hated polls. He hated that anyone thought that they could predict an election before the votes were counted. That seemed wrong to him. When it comes to making predictions on elections, obviously I have not followed in my father’s footsteps, but in his belief that it is human hubris to pretend certainty when massive amounts of people are involved in making up their minds, I do agree with him. So, here’s to you Dad! I am sure you privately shook your head about your eldest son and how he seemed to pay little attention when you spoke, or argued with you, but I was actually paying close attention, and the older I get the more I appreciate the instruction I received from you and Mom. May my kids say the same a quarter or a third of a century from now about me and their mother, especially when their thoughts, as mine are now, turn to family and absent loved ones at Thanksgiving.