Sunday, August 03, 2008

Closet Conservatives

Living in Southern California, despite pockets of conservative communities here and there, we bleed primarily blue. Or so it at least seems, on the surface.

It's said by some that America leans conservative. You'd never really know that by following pop culture, including much of the mainstream news, TV programming, and Hollywood.

Liberal activists have always appeared to make the loudest noise, wearing their liberalism on their sleeves, in open hostility to all things conservative (last week, one hippie mobile on the road had a bumpersticker that said "I'm pro-choice and I vote", "Sticking it to the religious right" and a host of other "in your face" type of thumb-in-the-eye stickers plastered to the vehicle like a moving billboard sign). I know I generalize, and it could only be because I live in blue state California; but I think liberals have always been much more vocal and liberated in their views, not shy to make spectacles of themselves in demonstrations. Counter-protestors, such as the Chester County Victory Movement, are the much welcomed exception to the rule.

I have yet to see anyone in Los Angeles sport anti-liberal bumperstickers and t-shirts, though on rare occasions there might be a Bush/Cheney sticker (I've only seen one McCain bumpersticker, though I'm sure that will change as the "normal people" who aren't political 24-7 might show their support for a month or two prior to election); and a little bit more common are pro-troop and military stickers, since those are not statements of political affiliation (although I've yet to see a "semper fi" and "Army Strong" sticker alongside "Code Pink" and "I Support the Troops- Bring Them Home" bumperstickers plastered onto the same moonbatmobile).

I bring this up, because Bookworm has made the following post (excerpt):
As regular readers know, I’ve chosen to keep my political life separate from the day-to-day aspects of my life. I simply can’t (and don’t want to) run the risk of tainting my carpools, my neighborhood barbecues, my kids’ comfort level at school, the camaraderie of the sports teams with which we’re involved, etc., by exposing myself to the obloquy that is routinely heaped on conservatives here — and this is a hostility that increases as elections draw near, of course.

During the 2004 elections, people who were unaware of my political inclinations announced in front of me that “Bush is the worst President ever,” “Republicans are stupid,” “Republicans are evil,” “Bush is stupid,” “Republicans are corrupt,” “Republicans are fascists” and “Bush should be impeached.” Children ran up to me on the sidewalk chanting “Bush is evil, Bush is evil” — so you know what their parents were saying at the dinner table. In this election cycle, one of my children announced after school that she was voting for Barack Obama “since every one is because he’s black.” I quickly scotched that line of reasoning.

This has been my experience as well. People are shocked with an initial reaction of "disappointment" when they find out I'm a pro-Bush, pro-war on terror conservative Republican...and I vote. Eventually, they seem to get over it (but know better than to discuss politics with me).

The day after the 2004 Election results was a good day to be a Republican voter. I smile to this day whenever I see Kerry/Edwards bumperstickers.

I know I should be speaking out when I hear statements such as these, but the sad fact is that I like these people. Barring their monomaniacal animosity towards Bush and the Republicans, they’re otherwise very nice: they’re hard workers, loving parents, good neighbors and helpful and reliable friends. Being the social creature that I am, I don’t want with one word (”Republican”) to turn these friendships upside down and inside out. (I’m not the only one with this problem.) I don’t want to be on the receiving end of some hideous Jekyll to Hyde transformation, so I just keep my mouth shut.

Those people I know who have spoken aloud their new conservative political views have been horrified by the animosity turned against them by formerly friendly neighbors and colleagues. My in-laws who are, like me, 9/11 neocons (down in Los Angeles) have stared open-mouthed at colleagues who use staff meetings to revile Bush and the Republicans — all to the cheers and huzzahs of the other staff members. (Indeed, what they describe sounds remarkably like Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate.) On the occasions when they’ve suggested that maybe, just maybe, Bush isn’t the Antichrist, they’ve found themselves shunned by these same colleagues.

Bookworm goes on to discuss how she attended her first meeting with local Marin County Republicans:
One after another, people stated their names and their City. Everything stopped, though, when a young woman, maybe 25, spoke her name very softly and added that “I’m a secret Republican.” With that single statement, the stories started.

One of the attendees, who had been asked to make phone calls on behalf of McCain, said that he spoke to one lady who said, “Don’t call me again. I’m going to vote Republican, but I can’t let anybody know. It’s got to stay a secret.” Another person recalled a party he attended a few months ago. When he mentioned, discretely, that he was a Republican, a young lady sidled up to him and whispered, “I’m conservative too, but don’t let anyone know. I also have two friends here. I’ll point them out to you. They’re also secret conservatives.” Incidentally, I was unable to interview either of the people who told these anecdotes because both were afraid that any more details might give away their identities and harm them professionally. (Clearly, in their lines of work, they need two resumes, one for public consumption and one that is their secret one.)


I have a proposal for all of you reading this who live in hostile Blue territory and feel isolated in your conservative political views. The next time you’re at a party, or chit chatting in a park, or standing in line at a store, if the person to whom you’re talking seems like an intelligent, common-sensical type, throw in a reference to Adam Smith. If your conversational partner jumps on that reference, opining that Smith was a great economic philosopher, you’ve just discovered that you’re not alone.

Even if you chose, however, to keep your political affiliations secret — whether because you’re afraid for your job, worried about your friendships, or are just deeply private — please hie yourself to the polls on November 4, 2008, and cast your vote for John McCain. I have a strong suspicion that there’ll be an awful lot of unexpected votes for McCain,

I suspect that as November looms ever closer, more and more voters will find themselves rejecting the socialist liberalism of Obama's policies, and shill for McCain. This includes cross-over voters.

As for remaining in the closet, I suggest to every conservative out there living in a blue state to not be afraid to come out into the light. You don't have to be "rah rah Republican" and clown yourself up like the rightwing answer to Code Pink; but don't be afraid to express your dissent from accepted, popular assumptions: "Bush lied", "Bush is a moron", "FOX News is yellow journalism", etc. I've challenged people, friends and acquaintances, and you'd be surprised at how productive such conversations and confrontations can be. You just have to know how to set the tone and know the temperament of the person you are breaking lances with.

If you care about the future of this country, if you don't want to see it make a sharp left turn in November, then it is in the best interest of every closet conservative out there to become an active participant in recruiting anti-Obama voters by doing what might not come easily: Talking politics. If you find the right stride, friendships to liberals will survive intact. Most of my friends lean left, and some are having doubts about Obama. And I know for certain, that some of their doubts have been influenced by my talking about politics.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Blogger J_G said...

Word, I work among Union people and I make no bones about my support for Bush, the troops, the war on terrorism and American conservative ideals. I will discuss issues with them any time the subject comes up. The thing that annoys me the most is they have no real knowledge of the political system and who is serving as their representatives nor are they educated in the current subjects such as energy, terrorism, jihad etc... All they know is they hate Bush. I joke with one of my conservative allies at work (there are many and some are union members)watch this and start a discussion about the economy. I tell the liberals that yeah, Bush is terrible on the economy, unemployment is almost 20 percent.

It usually goes like; yeah that f---ing Bush, I bet unemployment is even higher than that. Then I come in the next day and say unemployment is 25 percent, they fall for it every time. My friend John just shakes his head and says ask them who the Speaker of the House is. Libs are all about emotion and never investigating the facts.

Now I got this new shtick, I have a list of Football and basketball teams and I ask them who the Head coach is and name a few team members. Most are able to give more information about those teams than I ask them for. Then after that I ask them what State they live in (could be PA, NJ or DE) I ask them who their Governor is, who their US Representative is Name one of their US Senators. I get duh, well, I never, that's not fair.

Then I say given you have no idea of who these people are that occupy such important offices why would I take your advice to vote for someone like Obama that you have no idea about either. Case closed and I let them stew.

Monday, August 04, 2008 2:21:00 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

All those bumper stickers all over that car's paint! What will be the resale and/or trade-in value?

Being self-employed, I have a lot of latitude in expressing my political views, even though I HAVE lost a few clients here and there. I realize that many of my friends remain mum because they fear the consequences.

Recently, I had a chat with an Obama-supporting client. However, she wasn't rabid in her support and was willing to listen to the facts I presented. How refreshing! I'm sure that I didn't change her vote, but at least I gave her something to think about. BTW, she's registered as an Independent, not a Dem.

Monday, August 04, 2008 3:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

All of my friends here are conservative Republicans, Wordsmith. I consider myself lucky! :)

I do know some people who are liberals but it isn't hard to discuss politics with them because I don't really care what they think. I'm not surprised that you speak out. Actually I would be extremely surprised - not to mention disappointed - if you didn't! :)

Monday, August 04, 2008 8:50:00 AM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

I can't talk politics with people around me, and I can't talk politics with my own family. There's absolutely NO reasoning with them, there's not even any acceptance that I think differently and I have reasons I can well back up. It is pure, unadulterated hatred and that is all. All.

Monday, August 04, 2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

You'll notice those stickers are covering a hot black Pontiac G6 or G8 with spoiler and dual exhaust, likely gets 12 to 16 mpg. Yeah, THAT'S liberal for ya.


Monday, August 04, 2008 4:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Fortunately I live in a fairly conservative area and there is a pretty good mix at work.

It is funny how uninformed libs can be though. I was talking to a guy at work one day and he said he was voting for Obama because he voted against the Iraq war. I told him Obama did not vote against the war. He got indignent and said he did too. I told him no, he didn't, he wasn't in the Senate at the time.

This seemed to be an irrelevant fact for him. He believed Obama voted against the war and he didn't care if it was true or not. It's a little scary.

Monday, August 04, 2008 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

As Lyle Lovett sings, God Bless Texas!

Monday, August 04, 2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

That is pretty encouraging. Dare I 'come out' as a lib here in Idaho? :)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 9:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

There was a car under there?

Many of the people that I work with are Liberal and anti-Bush. I ask them what they think that Gore or Kerry would have done differently, and I am met with blank stares.

Oh yeah, a lot of them are H1B resident aliens...idiots...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Americaneocon said...

This is the best essay I've read all day.

Thanks Wordsmith!

I've been "out of the closet" since 2003, although I generally don't initiate partisan discussions in social setttings. I love the Adam Smith hook, though. I'm going to try that one!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 6:15:00 PM  
Blogger Z said...

A MARIN REPUBLICAN? Man, THAT woman's got her work cut out for her!
I can't add too much because we live so near each other, Wordsmith; I have to agree with everything you said because, except for this particular car, I've seen the same things you see and hear the same things, too.
I have to add that, as I get older, I hold myself straighter and don't whisper "republican" anymore at the precinct when they ask affiliation before they give me my ballot.
I'm proud now to be a Republican and don't care WHO knows it.
But, know your're wise in suggesting we don't hit them with bricks on the head; have facts, be calm... it works.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008 8:17:00 PM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

Okay, I had to respond to the comment about whispering Republican at the precint when voting.

In the state I'm in now, you don't have to list a political party affiliation. In the primary, you just ask for a ballot in the primary you want to vote in.

So when I went in, in my normal flowery shirt/flowing skirt bead necklace hippie-ish attire with my VERY California manner of speech and the mohawked son, then asked for the very first time in my life for a Republican ballot (I've always been a registered Democrat before this move) the woman marking off names in the book looked at me like I had lost my mind.

I'm betting it wasn't the ballot she was expecting me to ask for. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 3:33:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I was going to ask you, "aren't you a Democrat?", after your first comment; but then, didn't have the energy to go through and give proper responses to everyone else who commented. I have a lot to say, but am just too scatterbrained to sit down and do it. So apologies, everyone.

My blogging habits have been sporadic; and given how it's been a trend in the last several months, this may be a permanent thing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 6:01:00 PM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

I'm not "their kind" of Democrat though, Wordsmith. I don't hate George Bush, I'm pro-victory, and I think the public education system is horrific.

That apparently makes me a traitor - worse than someone who has conservative beliefs because they don't know any better. I have apparently shunned the light.

Yes, they do take themselves that seriously.

I'm thankful you are able to post as often as you do, btw!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 6:23:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks, afw.

So when I went in, in my normal flowery shirt/flowing skirt bead necklace hippie-ish attire with my VERY California manner of speech and the mohawked son,


I think I've thrown some people off, because of my love for Springsteen's music.

I have a Christian conservative friend who said people have told her, shocked when finding out she's a registered Republican, "But you're too nice...."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 6:32:00 PM  

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