Happy 90th Birthday, Grandpa: February 9, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

This is my maternal grandpa (and yes, that’s me).


Yesterday was his birthday. He died when I was 19, just before my second year of college. That was a long and hard year for me, one that featured a near constant repeat of The Postal Service’s Give Up into the early hours of the morning in my single college dorm room. I was just telling a friend about how that year was probably the hardest of my life until 2016 showed up and said “HOLD MY BEER.”

My grandfather was one of the smartest and most thoughtful people I know. He was in the Navy, where he, among other things, served as a swim instructor and got to go to Antarctica. He was a well-respected Boy Scout leader. He was town treasurer. He was also significantly more fiscally conservative than I am and for some reason that has never been fully explained to me, hated the Kennedy family. All of them. My dad has told me that my grandfather was not always a party-line voter, he often voted Republican.

But here’s what I also know: my grandfather fought fascism when he enlisted in the Navy during World War II. (Both of my grandfathers did, actually — my dad’s dad was a radio operator on a B-52 during World War II, flying missions during D-Day.) He also didn’t abide by stupidity. And while he may have been fiscally conservative, socially I believe he was more live-and-let-live than he may have let on. He had a stroke when I was in high school that left him unable to speak clearly. But I vividly remember a conversation from several years after his stroke, in which my mom was indicating to me that she would be disappointed were I to make some decision in my dating life (I think the question at hand was whether or not it would be acceptable to date someone significantly older than I) and my grandpa enunciated clearly from across the room, “You love who you love.” And while he’s now been gone for thirteen years of my life, thirteen years which have spanned several complicated relationships, I’ve carried what he said with me.

Those are all the reasons that I know he’d be absolutely horrified by you, and Trump, and particularly by Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Moderate, thoughtful, open-minded Republicanism no longer exists as it once did. That’s not to say there aren’t moderate, thoughtful, open-minded Republicans, but they are being forced to the side as an authoritarian regime takes control of the GOP. I can only hope that the Republicans like my grandpa are willing to stand up and say no to you and 45, like I know he would have.



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