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My dad makes me crazy…and also thankful

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Four days to go.

I love him to pieces, but every now and then, dad makes me insane.

He calls this morning, just to check and see how I’m doing. “Busy,” I tell him. “It’s insane, this close to the election.”

Really? Dad asks. How come?


I remind him that we’ve got a bond measure on the November ballot. Now, mind you, mom and dad live in suburban Portland. It would be different if they lived in, say, Vladivostok. And I grant you that they live within the Mount Hood Community College district, and not the PCC district. But still… It’s not like we haven’t generated a metric ton of media for this bond measure.

So, occasionally he makes me positively verklempt, but then I remember: Dad taught U.S. history for 30 years at the high school level. Dad instilled a sense in us kids that politics is interesting and cool, and one should pay attention. I remember in the 1970s watching the evening news and then debating the issues around the dinner table. That was pretty common in our house.

Disagreeing with mom and dad was mandatory. They didn’t care what us four kids thought, so long as we thought, then spoke, then defended our positions. We grew up with a sense of needing to know the news.

I remember, a couple of years ago, dad calling me at the Statesman Journal in Salem. “Hey!” he boomed (he never says “hi” on the phone; just assumes you know the topic of the conversation). “Remember the two Supreme Court nominees that Nixon couldn’t get past the Senate? What were those guys’ names?”

“Um…Carswell and Haynesworth?”

“Right! Thanks!” Click. Never did figure out why he needed that bit of trivia. But the point was: in our house, you were expected to know things like that. Because politics was important.

I bring this up because I read an article in The Guardian this morning, bemoaning the state of civics in America. According to this article, two-thirds of young Americans cannot find Iraq on a map and two-thirds of U.S. voters cannot name the three branches of government.

I don’t know if those stats are accurate, but it sure seems like they are. And that’s scary.

So while dad occasionally makes me crazy, I’m also grateful that he taught me to read newspapers. To vote. And to pay attention to the important stuff.

Send your feedback to And thanks in advance.

About Dana Haynes

Dana Haynes, joined PCC in 2007 as the manager of the Office of Public Affairs, directing the college's media and government relations. Haynes spent the previous 20 years as a reporter, columnist and editor for Oregon newspapers, including ... more »


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