Dear Dad

I wrote about the 50th anniversary of M*A*S*H recently. It inspired me to rewatch the episode in which Col. Blake gets his orders to return home, then dies before getting there. That led me down a M*A*S*H rabbit hole on Hulu.

Some of the best episodes of M*A*S*H involve the characters writing home to their loved ones. Hence the featured image of Alan Alda as Hawkeye. I’ve always identified with Hawkeye’s mordant but still zany sense of humor. I don’t identify with his lechery, but people are complicated. Suffice it to say that we’re both cut ups…

My father, Lou Athas, was an old-school business Republican. His father, my Papou, became a Republican because it was the business party, not out of grievance and rage like so many current GOPers.

People can surprise you. Lou was a strong on defense conservative who hated war. He rarely spoke of his wartime experiences. They were too unpleasant. That’s why he liked M*A*S*H. It showcased his idea that war was hell and laughter the best medicine. Besides, who among us doesn’t love Doctor Colonel Potter?

My dad died in 2001 but I decided to write him an epistle about the state of his party. It’s not a pretty picture.

Dear Dad:

We didn’t always get along. We rarely agreed on politics, but I respected your opinions and you mine. You never even grounded me for hating Tricky Dick. It must have been tempting.

I regret to inform you that the party you supported no longer exists. It’s become the party of white supremacists, Christian nationalists, grifters, and cowardly office holders. It’s no longer the party of business, it’s the party of grievance. Immigrant strivers like Papou are only welcome if they renounce their culture and conform to the whims of Donald Trump.

That’s right, Dad. Your party nominated and elected that jerk president. It’s a far cry from your hero and favorite Oval One, General President Dwight David Eisenhower, a name that merits a full salute. Trump only merits a one-finger salute if you catch my drift.

I remember your excitement when you were a delegate to the 1972 Republican convention in Miami. It was a big deal for you even your McGovern supporting son got that. That party no longer exists. The man I call the Impeached Insult Comedian held the 2020 convention at the White House. Your party no longer exists. Eisenhower weeps.

You had your share of flaws, but I never knew you to lie to anyone about anything important. You’d embellish to improve a story but that made you a bullshit artist, not a liar. That was small potatoes compared to the lies spewed by the current leader of the GOP. To spare his ego, he’s resorted to the BIG LIE that the 2020 election was stolen.

Fred Trump taught his son Donald that only losers admit to losing. That’s not what you taught me. I was taught to play to win but to be a gracious winner and good sport if I lost. Sore losers and spoil sports were not welcome in our house. They’ve taken over the party that was your political home. Your party no longer exists.

In 1944, your kid brother Bill was killed in action in Italy. The current leader of the GOP calls those who died fighting Nazism “losers and suckers” for making the ultimate sacrifice. In 2022, neo-Nazis, fascists, and militia types are part of the Republican coalition. Your party no longer exists. Eisenhower weeps.

You always thought of yourself as a moderate conservative. You disliked extremists of all stripes. You did not vote for Goldwater in 1964 because of his loose talk about nukes.

You even supported Gerald Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination over the home state hero. That ended your active participation in California Republican politics. You eventually came to like President Reagan for his oratorical skills and stern position on defense and foreign policy issues. That party no longer exists.

You disliked autocrats and mistrusted the Russians. Many Republicans now support Russian aggression in Ukraine. Your party no longer exists. Eisenhower weeps.

Both you and Papou were flag-waving super patriots like most immigrants and first-generation citizens. The GOP is now a hotbed of racist nativist xenophobia. Greeks weren’t considered white when Papou landed at Ellis Island. I doubt that he’d feel at home in the current GOP. His party no longer exists.

I won’t even go into some of the awful people the GOP is running for office in 2022. Their only platform is fealty to the man who thinks he’s king, Donald Trump. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

As a true conservative, you valued order and structure. You were the one who yelled at me when my room was a typical teenage mess. You disdained disorder and chaos. The current GOP thrives on it. They’re not conservatives, they’re radical, reactionary, right-wingers.  Your party no longer exists. Eisenhower weeps.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want you turning over in your grave. You lived a long and good life, so I’ll let you in rest in peace now.



PS: Here’s one of my favorite pictures of you and Mom. Such a glamorous young couple.

3 thoughts on “Dear Dad

  1. I am a big M*A*S*H fan an d I found this letter very moving, thanks for writing to your Dad.

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