In the den of a big, fuzzy beast with sharp teeth and a large mane

For better or worse, Susanne is teaching a class this semester on the elections. This sounded like a great idea, I’m sure, before we as a country traveled through the last 18 months of the primary and then general election. I was asking Susanne if she’d brought any of the Democratic Party voting materials I’ve gotten in the mail to her class, and she rightly informed me that she couldn’t do so before November 4, unless she had some things from the GOP side of the fence. So I offered to drop by our local Republican headquarters and gather some “collateral” for her. I think she thought I was joking. The woman ought to know me by now, right?


WW County Republicans Logo

WW County Republicans Logo

Twenty minutes later, I saunter in. All is quiet. Unlike the Walla Walla Democratic HQ there are no piles of yard signs, crowds of people buying “Hope” t-shirts and jerseys (seriously, I saw a veritable crowd two weeks ago), or lots of happy chatter. There was one older lady walking my way. She was wearing a t-shirt, all right, which I presume was not for sale (feel free to make a joke here about how many Republicans would sell you the shirt off their backs), and which read:

Just Another





What a lovely message it was. I wanted to ask why the shirt didn’t work in the apathy portion of Obama’s quote about people in Pennsylvania, but I figured it was because it doesn’t make for a nice image, like toting guns or clinging to one’s religion. Instead of inquiring into her fashion’s political message, I just said hello. She gave me a big grin and asked how she could help me.

I realized only then that I’d walked into the enemy camp. What the hell was I thinking? I better come up with something believable, I mean seriously, the woman totes guns.

“You’re not uh, toting a gun now, are you,” I ask with a smile.

She laughed (good sign?) and said no, but she did have license to conceal, as did several members of her family. So great, she could be lying and is just ready to shoot me dead the minute she realizes who she’s talking to. Okay, she’s probably not going to shoot me dead and she probably doesn’t have an actual gun on her. So I say I’m looking for some McCain/Palin brochures and the like.

And then I was shocked by her response.

“Well really, we don’t have any anymore.” Wow. I think of the stacks of yard signs, bumper stickers, tri-fold brochures, and holograms of live-action Obamas giving speeches on the stump, like Princess Leia in Star Wars, only in full color and not with quite the same sense of life-and-death urgency. Fine, they don’t have any holograms over there at the Dems HQ. But by the 2012 election, they will. It’ll be the next big thing in gubernatorial races — like asking for money online was when Howard Dean stuck his virtual hand out to the nation.

She went on to explain that volunteers had been taking all of the collateral out on them in their canvassing. But really, McCain pulled his campaign out of Washington a long time ago when it was evident he wasn’t going to pick up our 11 electoral votes. At any rate, the table was pretty bare. There were a few things that the locals had cobbled together so that the single picture of John and Sarah, looking happy and victorious, wasn’t so lonesome at the back of the plastic folding table. I looked down and saw a strip of paper with some typing on it. It read something like:

The problem with Obama’s candidacy is that it’s socialist. He has been supported by the New Left, which wants to make the US a socialist state. Their first goal is universal health care. That’s just another term for socialized medicine. It hasn’t worked for Russia, the UK, France, or Canada, so why would it work for us?

I was mesmerized. The leaps in logic. The blatant untruths. The fear mongering that what, we’ll go straight to the dogs if we have an alternative to our private system that currently leaves 46 million Americans uninsured? I wasn’t going to argue the point, but I wished I could have taken the strip of paper out the door with me.

The woman and I chatted about the initiatives on the ballot, which include funding for transportation infrastructure changes in Seattle, a right to die law similar to Oregon’s, and increased training for long-term care providers. She asked another woman who she said was a staffer of Dino Rossi’s (the fellow running against the Democratic incumbent for governor), to come on out and talk with me. It was an interesting conversation, and we could have been discussing bowling on ESPN for how good-natured we all were. I certainly wouldn’t suggest Republicans are bad people. But I do wonder what it takes for people in the same country to have such a distinctively different opinion of the world than I do. And I’d been hoping that it wasn’t about building a foundation of lies and misstatements, like universal health care = socialism. But hey, maybe it is. Maybe they think all of us Democrats are blind, or liars, too. Maybe we’re actually closer than we think we are, but hot button issues like reproductive rights, gay rights, the role of government, are just so divisive we can’t make time for the things we do agree on. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, the only fights I remember seeing were on the softball field or in the hockey stadium. Life got more complicated somewhere along the way, sometime, I guess, when I first started stepping out of the mushy mainstream part of society, when I first started saying I was going to be my own person even if it meant a little gayness here, a little sex change there. But I love my country, flaws and all. So I suppose it’s no big deal to walk into GOP-land. I could just flash my Washington State University Visa card and then duck out while everyone is reflexively shouting, “Cougars!”

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