Politics

Republican Like Me

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[with apologies to Black Like Me author John Howard Griffin.*]

MW Democrat - MW Republican
On the left, MW ( D), providing aid and comfort to the enemy. On the right, MW (R), soliciting illegal corporate contributions to lobby corrupt members of congress for political favors.

For a year the idea had haunted me, and Thursday night it returned more insistently than ever. If a Democrat became a Republican in San Francisco, what adjustments would he have to make? What is it like to experience discrimination based on political belief, something over which one has limited control? This speculation was sparked again by the blog post glowing on the laptop screen in the den of the high rise condominium that served as my office. It was Jon Swift’s “Best Blog Posts of 2007″ year end round-up, linking my June 23rd screed explaining why I must become Republican in order to preserve divided government. In an overlapping window on the screen, a story from the LA Times showing how new California Republican primary rules might work to Ron Paul’s advantage in heavy Democratic districts like San Francisco. As few as 7,000 Ron Paul votes in San Francisco County could garner as many delegates at the Republican convention for Ron Paul as the Republican winner in “Loyal Bushie” territory like Orange County. Another window was open to the December 5th Evans-Novak Report – Money quote: “Republican confidence about winning the presidency actually has declined… We have had several Republicans tell us … they wondered not only about the outcome of the ’08 presidential election but also the long-range future of the GOP.”

If it was that bad for Republicans in the rest of the country, what would it be like for Republicans in San Francisco? I feared for local Republicans, despite the assurances of the supposedly “tolerant” Democratic San Francisco Mayor and “Progressive” Democratic Board of Supervisors, who continue to insist they represent a culturally diverse community, committed to tolerance and accepting and embracing people of all colors, creeds, religions, sexual orientation, and belief. “Right.” I thought. “They tolerate everyone except Republicans. I lingered on, looking out at the view of Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay. My wife slept in the room next door. I sat there, surrounded by the cool ocean breeze coming through my open window, listening to the sea lions barking in Fisherman’s Wharf, unable to leave, unable to sleep.

How else except by becoming a Republican could a Democrat hope to learn the truth? Though we lived virtually side by side throughout the blogosphere, communication between the two political parties had simply ceased to exist. Neither really knew what went on with those of the other party. The Republicans will not tell the Democrats the truth. In 2006 they learned that if unpleasant truth is revealed to Democrats, the Democrats will cause Republicans to lose elections and go to jail.

The only way I could see to bridge the gap between us was to become a Republican. I decided I would do this. I prepared to walk into a life that appeared suddenly mysterious and frightening. With my decision to become a Republican, I realized that I, a political blogger, knew nothing of the Republican’s real problem. I knew then that I must enter 2008 as a Republican.

Friday was gray, cold, wet and depressing. I donned my best “Jack Abramoff” trench coat, and walked down the hill to City Hall.

The San Francisco Department of Elections is in the basement. It was a short easy form. In a few minutes the painless procedure was over. I was a Republican. I asked the clerk if I was the only Republican in San Francisco. “No.” she said as she turned her back and walked away. “There are some others.” She didn’t seem interested in talking to me, would not meet my eyes, and behaved as if I was not even there. “I am still me…” I thought. “I have not changed.” Yet, somehow it seemed things had changed around me.

When I got home, I thought back to what the election clerk told me, but found no comfort knowing I was not the only Republican in San Francisco. I refuse to wallow in self-pity. After all, being a Republican in San Francisco could not be any worse than a libertarian lesbian lawyer becoming a Republican in Arizona. I had it easy. But I would need help facing this brave new world. I sat down, poured myself a scotch, and flipped on Fox News.

[*NOTE: This post is a paraphrase of John Howard Griffin’s seminal work “Black Like Me” and includes direct quotations from the book. It is a reflection of the sad state of American education today that I feel I have to explain this here.]

x-posted and excerpted from Divided We Stand United We Fall