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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Republican Boss Had Won Re-Election. I Was Elated. I Was 19.

Ten years ago, I stood in a ballroom in South Carolina, cheering the re-election of my then-boss, a Contract With America, Wave of '94 Republican. I was living in D.C. for the semester and interning with his office, which was staffed by a group of folks who'd decided the day before the election to rent a van and drive the nine hours down to the district for what they had sensed would be a landslide victory party. It was. Happily fuzzy from too much champagne and proximity to political success, my "Vote Republican" pin firmly on my suit jacket and my little gold elephant charm hanging off of my bracelet, I became convinced that this was as good as it got.

Last night when I heard the words, "The Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives," I had the same feeling. It's been an interesting 10 years.

In 10 years, I've watched with frustration as the party I believed in so passionately that night in South Carolina was hijacked by evangelicals who hated an awful lot of their fellow men, by war profiteers, and by corporate felons. Good women and men (and I include my then-boss who is still serving in Congress in that group to this day) who brought a sincere and intelligent approach to the floor were elbowed aside by people like Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum. The party that was all for personal liberty when it came to guns and taxes seemed more and more interested in hopping into my lap at the doctor's office. Around the same time, someone came along who questioned my assertions and assumptions about the Republican party's platform and politics. They wouldn't let me off the hook when I fiddled with my pearls and repeated hollow talking points about fiscal responsibility and Bill Clinton's debauchery disrespecting the presidency.

But it would be the relentless deceptions of George Bush and his executives that brought on the death rattle of my relationship with this Republican party. I was lied to again and again by the party's leaders and its loudest foot soldiers. I was assumed to be stupid. And xenophobic. And willing to see the Constitution turned into a quaint historical footnote. I was assumed to be like them. I am not like them. Many in the country agreed with me yesterday and I went to bed believing this is as good as it gets.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Honestly. I went through much the same transition, even having once worked for the RNC, but in three years instead of ten. A lot HAS happened, and I felt the same kind of relief and excitement when I heard the news this morning. Part of me feels like a traitor, like I've hung up my hat simply for the victory, but I'm working on silencing that voice and listening to the rest of me, which knows what I believe and doesn't put a label on it. So thank you.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Virgle Kent said...

Who’s the guy in a wig in the picture?

2:41 PM  
Blogger Brunch Bird said...

VFD--My pleasure. Thanks for reading.

VK--I told you, I was a good lil' Republican girl, so my hair was appropriately poofy. And the fitted, short-sleeve turtleneck? Well that was all about the Courtney Cox "Friends" sartorial juggernaut sweeping the country in '96.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous rcr said...

I considered myself a republican until the government shutdown of 1995 (it would be another year before I was old enough to vote). I've never called myself a democrat, but I was elated when I went to bed last night.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Brunch Bird said...

RCR--I'm still not comfortable with the Democrat label. As a newspaper reporter I just registered no affiliation to be completely neutral. When I moved up here to write for the mag I made the plunge to D because it didn't really matter anymore and I could vote in the mayoral primaries.
I guess I'm a mercenary. My vote is available to whoever will behave completely different than the Republicans have for the last 5-10 years. If that's the Dems, so be it. If that's a reformed Republican party in future years, so be it.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Sweet said...

I can relate. When I was a teenager I was a hardcore Republican. So much in fact, that on student-teacher day I taught my goverment teacher's class (he also happened to be one of the most conservative members of the the VA General Assembly). If he met me now he'd be shocked. But it's amazing what eight years of life experience -- and let's not forget the Dubya factor -- will do to make you completely change.

7:30 PM  
Blogger WiB said...

Being a Virginia voter, I'm a little bittersweet about yesterday. On the one hand, it may turn out that I cast one of the first meaningful votes in a VA senate race in years; on the other hand, that ridiculous constitutional amendment passed.

Virginia is for lovers. There should be an asterisk, is all I'm saying. *Note: a list of who and what you may love will be provided upon entrance to the state.

8:24 PM  

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