The Turncoat


Here’s this Sunday’s Buchwald humor column about the 1964 election race. I will say that it is a sober thing when a family member defects and considers voting for the wrong candidate. I am addressing here select members in the mighty Smith political machine; you folks know who you are.

Art Buchwald, 1964

I have a friend who has four children. He is an ardent Democrat and worked hard for President Johnson’s election. My friend’s wife and three of his children were also for Mr. Johnson. But his nine-year-old daughter happened to be for Senator Goldwater.
“At first,” he told me, “I thought it was amusing. But I don’t think it’s very funny anymore. How would you like it if you came home after a hard day’s work and instead of your daughter kissing you she shouted, ‘Hooray for Goldwater!’?”
“Why is she doing it?” I asked him.
“I can’t figure it out. She’s a good child, we’ve always lavished love and affection on her, and she doesn’t get punished more than any other kid. But somewhere along the way we must have failed.”
“Have she told you her reasons for supporting Goldwater?”
“No. Every time I ask her, she just giggles and shouts, ‘Hooray for Goldwater!’ Lately she’s been wearing Goldwater buttons on her dress and somebody in the neighborhood has been slipping her Goldwater stickers which she pastes up around the house, and it’s driving me nuts. Look, I want my kid to grow up and think for herself, but she doesn’t have to start with Goldwater.”
“Have you tried to discuss the issues with her?”
“Of course I have. I told her that if Goldwater was elected he would make all children go to school on Saturdays and he would do away with summer vacations He also was advocating an hour’s extra homework each night and was supporting daily tests in arithmetic.”
“Didn’t that scare her?”
“It did for a couple of days, but then the Goldwater people got to her and told her President Johnson was going to cut all children’s allowances, close down candy stores, and abolish bubble gum.”
“What was your response to that?”
“I told her Goldwater was going to put a tax on all bicycles, doll houses, and doll clothes. I warned her if Goldwater was elected she would have to take care of her baby sister every afternoon, and he would forbid anyone under twenty-one from watching television.”
“I should think that would have done it.”
“It would except that she went back to the Goldwater neighbors and they told her President Johnson was against the Three Stooges, sand piles, and Disneyland.”
“I didn’t think the campaign was going to get this rough,” I said.
“I wouldn’t mind if it was just her, but she’s enlisted several of her friends in the campaign. How would you like to be a registered Democrat and have a Goldwater cell in your basement?”
“What does your wife have to say about this?”
“She thinks it’s part of the parent backlash. My wife believes we should pretend to be for Goldwater and then our daughter would be for Johnson.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“I’m afraid of losing the other three kids. They might think we really are for Goldwater.”
‘You do have a problem.”
“The worst part of it is I’ve lost all perspective. When she’s bad I don’t know if I’m punishing her for her behavior or because she’s for Goldwater. It makes me feel guilty as hell.”
“Why don’t you tell her the Beatles are going to vote for Johnson?”
“Say,” he shouted happily. “I never thought of that!”

About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
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