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Manhood

When did the GOP become the party of the alpha male? Somewhere over the last few years the Right found its rugged “God, guns and country” swagger while the Left was reduced to a bunch of snowflake socialists more concerned with transgender bathroom preferences than the issues facing the average American. Fair or not, this is the perception. And in this era of fake news and alternative facts, perception trumps reality. Especially in this era.

But I refuse to be sucked in. I’ve done enough herd-following for one lifetime. Wasted too many years ignoring that small voice inside telling me what’s right (or muffling it with chemicals). These last 14 years in the joint have been a massive rebuilding project for me. Lots of soul-searching. My father did the best he could for a man who struggled with multiple demons but he died relatively young. The absence of a strong male figure in my life left me wondering what manhood actually looked like. The gang-banger? The knockout artist? The bodybuilder? The lifer playing with his kids in visitation? The Christian on his knees? The Muslim making his salat? The quiet guard pulling shift work? The abusive one going above and beyond? The warden? The governor? President Obama? President Trump?

This is what I have come to believe: A man treats others with the exact amount of respect he demands for himself. He is confident but not arrogant, strong but not oppressive, kind but not soft. His will is iron, just like his word, and he finishes whatever he starts. He doesn’t take things personally… unless they are. He’s not thin-skinned or combative. He knows what he’s capable of and lets his actions speak. He believes in second chances. He understands how dangerous the extremes are and makes his home in the realm of moderation. He stands up for women and sees his own children in all children. He knows how fortunate he is to have been born on American soil, in American skin, and realizes that he could have just as easily been born in a Guatemalan body. He appreciates the risks that fathers and mothers from impoverished nations face in order to give their families the opportunity of a better life… because he knows he would do the same thing if it came down to it.

Again, this is just my version. You probably have your own. One thing is for sure: neither party has a monopoly on manhood. I have brothers, cousins and friends on both sides of the aisle who embody much of the above. But I don’t see a lot of it in D.C. these days.