Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family.
I recall Michael Corleone’s warning to Fredo from The Godfather every time I see a political candidate’s family members denounce him in public. Even mobsters understood that family comes first. Not in agreement are the fourteen relatives of US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt of Nevada, who have endorsed his opponent. Ten of them likewise posed for a photo with the state’s Democratic governor in 2018. One of Laxalt’s cousins accuses him of “using the family name to pursue a political career,” a claim you’ll only hear because she’s using the family name to advance it.
Likewise for a whopping six of Representative Paul Gosar’s nine siblings, who have urged residents of his rural Arizona district to vote for his opponent. One even denounces him as a racist. Taking a slightly more measured tone, Gosar says of their betrayal that “Lenin, Mao and Kim Jong-un would be proud.”
It’s not just national races where this is happening. A Florida state legislative candidate whose sister lives in Georgia sent a donation to his opponent, then offered to provide a blood sample to local news media to prove she’s his sister.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised in these polarized times, when nearly a fifth of American voters report that recent political disagreements have hurt their relationships. What pollsters haven’t explored, but should, is what portion of that one fifth are themselves the family assholes. Often the first person who runs out of a burning building is the one who lit the match.
If anyone reading this is still tempted to hold a presser announcing that their cousin the gubernatorial candidate used to Dutch-oven them during sleepovers, just keep in mind that we Americans expect our politicians to be assholes. It’s practically a job requirement. This country has not only survived shitheels in office for over two hundred years, we’ve prospered under them. The Louisiana Purchase was illegally effected by the conniving hypocritical Thomas Jefferson, and as a result we got a Midwestern breadbasket bigger than three Ukraines, all for $18 a square mile, and added Etouffee to our national menu. And remember the Maine? Bloodthirsty congressional jackwagons parlayed a naval tragedy into a lopsided war with Spain, thereby shoring up fragile American unity as descendants of Confederates, slaves, and Union soldiers found themselves allied against a common enemy.
Asshole politicians made America great.
And look, America’s Founders knew our politicians wouldn’t be angels. That’s why they designed a system where the jackals prey on each other rather than on the rest of us. Those checks and balances worked pretty well, too, until a succession of weak sisters and nihilists in congressional leadership ceded the bulk of their authority to unelected federal bureaucrats.
The problem isn’t that DC is filled with bad people; it’s that the bad people we once could replace by electing other bad people have surrendered their authority to bad people whom we can’t throw out of office.
What irks me about the tattletales is that they’ve got no sense of history. In the old days, political relatives knew to shut up and take the dough. Billy Carter spent most of Jimmy’s presidency drunk, yet the worst thing he ever publicly said about his brother was actually a sideways compliment: “My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.”
That man understood loyalty. He didn’t need to settle scores; he was just grateful for the opportunity to pocket some Libyan payola and start his own beer line. However you feel about Hunter Biden, you have to admit that in this respect he is 100 percent OG. You’ll never see him sticking a knife in the Big Man’s back.
And since we’re now praising famous men, you have to hand it to the Bushes on this measure. Jeb’s boy George positioned himself as a Trumper in this year’s Texas primary, but that didn’t stop Jeb and Uncle George W. from supporting his campaign. George P. reciprocated with admirable loyalty, refusing to say he’d vote against his father if he ever ran again, which means that — bookmaker odds to the contrary — a 2024 Jeb Bush candidacy could actually get at least one vote in the state of Texas.
At the very least, if you’re going to come out against your family, do it with style. Consider how Teddy Roosevelt’s eldest child, Alice, called Franklin (her fifth cousin once removed) “one-third mush and two-thirds Eleanor.” She salted the wound with a tooth-forward impression of Eleanor that was devastating.
Eleanor’s class in response also offers instruction, should you ever become a politician who feels the bite of a relative’s blade between your ribs. She not only asked Alice to perform the impression for her, but continued inviting her back to the White House.
Until Franklin made her stop. Some people just can’t take a joke.