Brother against brother is part of the American story.
(And I’m not just talking about last night’s epic fight in our living room over who took the Fortnite video game loot.)
The Crittenden family of Kentucky has always embodied that conflict best.
As Kentucky Sen. John J. Crittenden struggled to keep his state unified during the Civil War, his sons went off and served as opposing generals.
George Bibb Crittenden served as a Confederate general and Thomas Leonidas Crittenden led Union troops. (Neither covered himself in glory.)
So it’s no surprise that on the eve of today’s Second Civil War (Nov. 6 — vote!), we see more families divided politically.
There’s the spectacle of George Conway slamming President Trump on Twitter while his wife, Kellyanne Conway, does Trump’s bidding as one of his top White House advisers.
There’s this week’s jaw-dropping condemnation of another powerful Trumper, Stephen Miller, by his uncle in Politico magazine. Headline: “Stephen Miller is an immigration hypocrite. I know because I’m his uncle.”
And then there’s the Virginia edition of “Family Feud”: Bobby Goodlatte turning on the politics of his father, retiring GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
This Roanoke-versus-San Francisco, red-versus-blue battle might as well be the Second Civil War.
Bobby Goodlatte, who lives in one of San Francisco’s hippest neighborhoods and works in tech as an angel investor, went beyond condemning his dad on Twitter after a top-ranking House Republican took up for President Trump one too many times.
In case the 3,000 miles separating them weren’t enough, the son of the House Judiciary Committee chairman also gave a full-throated endorsement to the Democrat running to replace him, urging his dad’s Roanoke district to flip from red to blue.
“We’re just completely honored to have his support,” said Democrat Jennifer Lewis, who woke up on Monday to see the younger Goodlatte had pledged the maximum donation to her campaign and urged others to do the same. “For him to put himself out there was just so honorable, also. He didn’t have to. He could have just quietly sent us a check. The fact that he chose to get involved shows just how important this race is.”
Or how much he’s sick of dad. Bobby didn’t return my calls this week.
But first he expressed his disappointment for his dad’s part in the firing of FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump texts launched a nine-hour, scathing, partisan shouting match of a hearing over which the elder Goodlatte presided.
“I’m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok’s career was ruined by my father’s political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress. Thank you for your service sir. You are a patriot,” the younger Goodlatte tweeted.
Then, he announced his support for his father’s hopeful replacement.
“I just gave the maximum allowed donation to Jennifer Lewis, a democrat running for my father’s congressional seat. I’ve also gotten 5 other folks to commit to donate the max. 2018 is the year to flip districts — let’s do this!”
This wasn’t the first time the Goodlattes’ political discord got aired publicly.
In 2015, when Bobby Goodlatte introduced an online platform to try to change the culture of campaigning, he explained to TechCrunch he and dad are “starting from the exact opposite sides of the political spectrum.”
His political activism was forged in a childhood spent along the campaign trail — pancake breakfasts and endless door knockings. Being on the inside, he knew the inner workings of what makes Goodlatte’s brand of political supremacy.
And the backstory is often pretty revealing.
Just ask another family member whose political divisions went viral.
David Glosser pulled back the curtain on the huge disconnect between the politics of his nephew, Stephen Miller, and their shared family history.
Miller, the chief architect of Trump’s immigration policy, is himself a product of chain migration, which began when Wolf-Leib Glosser left what is today known as Belarus and landed on Ellis Island in 1903 with $8 in his pocket and no English in his vocabulary.
“I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses — the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom,” Glosser wrote in his Politico piece. “The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the ‘America first’ nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees.”
That’s what makes political family feuds so compelling, when a belief is passionate enough to divide a house.
Remember the discord between Ronald Reagan’s sons?
Two of the Gipper’s kids had wildly different takes on his legacy and how he’d square with this century’s GOP.
“He did raise taxes,” liberal son Ron Reagan told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC “This Week” interview in 2011.
“When he was governor of California, he signed into law one of the most liberal abortion policies in the country and also an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. So I’m not sure that today’s Republican Party or tea party would be all that thrilled with him.”
But conservative son Michael Reagan said dad was OT — “original tea party”.
Sometimes, in rare cases, kids change their parents.
There was a quiet wedding in D.C. in 2012, when Mary Cheney married her bae of 20 years, Heather Poe. And father of one of the brides, conservative Vice President Dick Cheney, said he was cool with gay marriage, even lobbied for the right.
Oops. But then sister Liz Cheney pulled rank as the firstborn when she ran for a Senate seat in 2013 and trashed marriage equality. (She lost that race, but won when she ran for the House.)
“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” the elder Cheneys said in a statement. “Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”
Sister against sister, too.