The Wisdom of Archie Bunker


I love the 1970’s sitcom All in the Family.  To this day.  Wikipedia says All in the Family “broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause and impotence.”  It must be true – we all know that Wikipedia is always right all the time…

The main character, Archie Bunker, is a working class World War II vet who is outspokenly bigoted against anybody and everybody who isn’t a red-blooded American male heterosexual WASP.  Carroll O’Conner was brilliant in creating a complex, humorous character who was both repulsive and lovable at the same time.  Archie’s traditional way of living is being threatened by the huge cultural, political and economic upheavals occurring in American society in the 60‘s and 70‘s.  He longs for the good old days when “girls were girls and men were men” and people like him were in charge of everything.

I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t get that Archie was a stereotype of the “old guard”.  He liked Archie and the way he thought about the world.  Yep – that would be my dad.  In a way, my dad was Archie Bunker.   Minus the humor and lovability.

But in the show, no matter what happens between the main characters, they always come back together in the end because they are family.  Their bonds of love and connection allow them to overcome or at least set aside their differences.  As a young woman, I believed this could happen.  I believed that family love and affection could overcome any discord or differences.  What a naive sucker…

My brother is now in his 70’s.  He is, in many ways, like Archie Bunker.  Minus the humor and lovability.  Sound familiar?  America is again experiencing seismic cultural and political shifts.  The demographics of the country are changing dramatically.   The “old guard” is again in an uproar in the face their rapidly decreasing control and influence.  Pandora’s Box is open and there is no putting the lid back on, but don’t try to tell them that.  They want time to go backward.  It doesn’t work that way unless you have a flux capacitor and a DeLorean.

I have a different view.  I think that, on the whole, the changes represent progress.  Not perfection by any means, but steps in the right direction.  I realize that this is my opinion.  I realize that other people have different opinions.  And I respect people’s rights to have a different opinion.  Pretty shocking.   One of the strengths of the Great American Experiment has been how we handle the struggle with the diversity of opinions held by our citizens, and use that struggle to emerge as stronger nation.  Queue flag waving.

My brother disagrees.  He disagrees so vehemently that he has cut off all contact with me.  WTF?  Archie and Bonehead would argue violently but then make up in the end.  Didn’t he see that part of the show?

My brother and I haven’t really argued.  He’s tried many times to “get into it” with me, but I refuse to take the bait.  Knowing that we’ll never find common ground politically and culturally, I really wanted to focus on other aspects of our lives and relationship.  You know, the stuff that we won’t argue about which is like 80% of everything else.

This strategy worked for a while.  Then the Presidential election of 2012 came along.  Evidently I was single handedly responsible for the outcome.  Honestly, I didn’t even put the Obama sticker on my car…

But the damage was done; the die was cast.  I am officially the enemy.  Facebook became the battleground.  Seriously…  95% of my FB posts are about drinking wine, cute animals and our latest vacation.  The other 5% is “hey, you might want to think about this” stuff.  No posts with made up facts or name calling or rubbing anything in.  Just a request to think.  Clearly he feels this is subversive.

I put up with his tirades like a dutiful younger sister until he started calling my friends (who represent a broad political spectrum) unkind names because they didn’t think the reality TV show Duck Dynasty was very good.  Huh?  My multiple requests for civility didn’t go over well.  For the past 3 months, he has not reciprocated to any attempt to contact him.

This all makes me very, very sad.  Life is so incredibly short, especially at our age.  In the end, all of that other nonsense really doesn’t matter does it?  In the end, it’s the love we carry in our hearts for our family and friends, and the love that they carry for us that gives our life it’s richness and meaning.

For all of his flaws, Archie understood that.  I just wish my brother did.




8 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Archie Bunker

  1. “It doesn’t work that way unless you have a flux capacitor and a DeLorean.” That’s great! I think most conservatives and/or Republicans (is there a difference?) want to go back to the past and to ignore the future. And unless Ted Cruz or one of his crazy cronies develops a flux capacitor, that ship has sailed. Am I mixing metaphors?

    I’m sorry about your estranged relationship with your brother, Some people are so intransigent in their politics or their religious beliefs, that disagreeing with their positions is a personal affront and cannot be tolerated. Maybe at some point, he’ll mellow out and realize that life is too short and will be open to being your brother again.

    By the way, “All in the Family” was one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Thanks for bringing back some memories.


    • I honestly feel that there are reasonable conservatives (be they socially or fiscally conservative) who have much to contribute to the national conversation. It’s just that their voices are getting muted/drowned by the extremists who tend to scream and grab all of the attention. I long for the good old days when people knew the meaning of the word “compromise”…
      Thanks for your comments Doobster418. Since we are 12 years apart in age, my brother and I never were super close, but we used to enjoy getting our families together for a visit (we live in different cities) and we even went on a few vacations together. His grown daughters and their husbands also think he’s irrational and way too far to the right, but I guess he feels he can’t risk estranging them. The only positives are that he took me off of his email distribution. You wouldn’t believe the outlandish propaganda he used to forward…. And he doesn’t comment on my FB page anymore. Trying to stay positive!


  2. What a great post – I think I should introduce my dad to your brother. They’d be BFFs. And this has inspired me to stitch up a portrait of Archie…


  3. Hi Aging Gracefully –

    Or should I call you Ms. My Ass?

    I enjoyed this post very much – I know and love a few conservatives (my father and my husband for two) and even a progressive (my son.) I will say that not all republicans are conservatives and even some “fiscal” conservatives are not social conservatives. I guess I might fit in that category and so might my husband. Maybe that makes us more libertarian in our viewpoints. We are truly “live and let live” types and I think I’m mostly an agnostic, although I can love entering some churches.

    Being able to come together as a family is the overarching point, isn’t it? Unfortunately, in my own case, my son and my husband have come to loggerheads and that appears to be impossible for now. I’m sad about it, because they do have the 80% of stuff that they agree on (movies, some books, me, etc.)

    Like you, I’d like to be able to be able to bridge the gaps and commence the flag waving at appropriate times – we’re all Americans, right? Unlike you, I’m not thrilled about where this country is going, but I also know that the pendulum swings in many different directions. And the founders were pretty smart in how they set up a checks and balances system – as long as each party plays their unique role in this. This part gives me hope in the future. I don’t want to go back to the 1950’s or anything, either, and I personally don’t think the future will ever be that way again. Just look how gay marriage has been moving through the states, frankly much quicker than I thought it would. (That’s one of those ‘live and let live’ areas that I don’t care about – no one should have to be alone in my book.)

    Enjoying your writing – but one question – do you have an “about” page? I’d like to know a bit more about you. Or are you going to make me read every post? (smile).


    • Thanks for your thoughts Flossie! I try to be optimistic in spite of the facts. It’s all about the denial of reality for me… But you’re right – nobody really fits into the straightjackets we try to wedge them into. It’s just such a huge part of human nature to want to categorize and scapegoat. It’s all the “others” fault. No creation there – just destruction.

      About me – I’m extremely embarrassed to admit that I set up my WordPress site and just started typing. I honestly don’t really know how it all works other than how to get my posts published and how to reply to comments. Yikes. Guess I should figure that out soon right? Hey – I’m old – it says so in my name!

      I hope that egos can be set aside – ’cause really, they are the core of the problem – and it all works out between your son and your husband. And I hope it’s sooner rather than later. They are missing out on precious time together!

      Delightful to hear from you!
      Ms. My Ass


  4. My sister is a bit of a female Archie, but she loves her Bonehead older sibling (me) enough to get over it. I’m sending positive (hippy-fied granola-laden) energy to your brother, in hopes that he ‘gets it’ before it’s too late.

    Again…love your writing.


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