The Most Patriotic Thing a Republican Can Do This Year

1. You voted for Reagan and G. H.W. Bush and are pleased to have done so. You voted for Bob Dole grudgingly, if only because he was clearly doomed. You had high hopes for Young George at the outset, but quickly grew tired of defending his ineptitude. After eight years of missions decidedly unaccomplished, you began to think wistfully, if not fondly, of Bill Clinton.

Even if it was just as much the fault of a dysfunctional Louisiana government, Bush's handling of Katrina was possibly even more classist than racist, a very difficult inversion to pull off in America.

2. You’ve long been against gay rights as part of a general rubric of religious and social beliefs without ever really being able to define exactly why. Although some part of you still feels scandalized by overt homosexual behavior, you’ve begun to realize that being homophobic is not only difficult to justify in a conversation with anyone under thirty, it’s also a complete waste of time. You’re dismayed that your party has bled away vast amounts of political capital over a zero-gain issue to appease voters who are already so calcified that wooing them no longer matters. Besides, you have two cousins and an uncle who’ve recently come out, and even though you avoid them at family barbeques, you’re hard pressed to come up with a reason why they shouldn’t be able to quietly live the lives they want to.

Every cookout is at least this gay.

3. Although you’re against it in theory, the notion of the Supreme Court actually going through with (instead of just safely talking about) outlawing abortion seems politically and culturally unthinkable. Further, the whole debate over contraception strikes you as shockingly dimwitted. Your wife has been on the juice for decades, and it’s nobody’s business but yours. And hers. It’s one thing for the Catholics to trot out their tired bromides, it’s another to legislate a man’s access to lubes, creams, unguents, and a worry-free orgasm. Besides, the notion that the pill shouldn’t be easily available–let alone federally funded–directly contradicts your (very) secretly held belief that certain people should probably be restricted from reproducing altogether. Which people? Hey, all you’re saying here is that while the pro-life people have your support, they never seem to have a plan for what they’d do with the sudden explosion of unwanted children.

Available to good homes.

4. Everything about Obamacare rankles. Problem is, you’re old enough to remember that Richard Nixon tried to reform healthcare too. And so did Bob Dole. As a matter of fact, if you take the time to go back and look, their proposals were even more radical than Obama’s plan. But while your party continues to shout about the deficit like the theater’s on fire, every time some uninsured fool goes to the emergency room with a septic toe it costs taxpayers ten grand. You add up all the boozehounds who use the ER like a flophouse and that’s practically your deficit right there. Shouldn’t we at least make this guy get the same coverage as a ’77 Pinto wagon?

Bruise deduction, plus Royal Gate filing fee, plus Charlie Brown sweater loophole, minus environmentally insensitive brown bag, divided by shoplifted 'Just For Men'=better revenue source than a Caymans casino.

5. At first you were totally behind the Citizen’s United decision. Scalia voted for it, right? Enough said. But then you saw the thing in action, and it became clear what it really meant: a gambling billionaire was able to single-handedly keep Newt Gingrich in the race months after he would otherwise have burned up in a penniless grease-fire of his own making. You’re a lifelong Republican, but even you can’t stomach Newt. Besides, is it really American for one Vegas developer’s cash to alter the political process so unnaturally? You’re pretty sure that any policy which results in more Newt seeping into the public consciousness is one to be shunned, if not immediately reversed.

When even "oleaginous" isn't strong enough.

6. You’re totally against drugs. Illegal ones, anyway. Okay, it’s true, sometimes you need one of your wife’s pills to get to sleep. And every guy could use a little boost in the bedroom once in a while. But here’s the thing: Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. Which means the United States has been fighting and losing that war for forty-two years. That’s six consecutive Vietnams. Even Curtis LeMay would have known when to pull the plug. We’ve spent over a trillion dollars enforcing an unenforceable abstinence, and not a nickel of it has mattered. In 1970 there were 200,000 people in jail in the US. Now there’s 2.3 million, a vast majority for non-violent drug crimes. So prisons are corporations and business is good, but you no longer understand why the Mexican and Colombian cartels should profit off of our vices. In fact, you think it’s time to stop pretending that addiction is a moral issue. It’s a money issue. Just like everything else.

Why isn't this guy paying FICA and social security deductions?

7. Sure, you plan to vote for him, but deep down you’re sort of afraid of Mitt. Not the flip-flopping. Not the androidal laugh. Not the prep schools or Bain greed or empty smile. Hell, let’s be honest here–as much as you’d like to outwardly support any American’s right to worship as they please, it’s the Mormonism. Is it just you, or is that routine a half step on the wrong side of Scientology? Church, smurch, what really makes your asshole pucker is the idea of the country being run by a cult.

Anyone who would let Donald Trump this close to them, for any reason, in any context, is counting on more than just prayer to wash away their sins.

8. At first Paul Ryan felt like someone you could actually get behind. Finally, a real conservative. Smart, straight-talking, no-nonsense. But here’s the thing: unlike all your buddies toting around a Docker’s worth of Ryan-wood, you actually read his budget proposal. It’s a document of blood and spite. In fact, it’s such a Draconian nutbuster that if Romney wins he’ll almost certainly be one term, since that’s obviously the only deal the cutthroat Ryan people would have negotiated to join such a mediocre ticket in the first place. Which means Paul Ryan has an excellent chance of running as the incumbent in four years. Which would be awesome, except that you also read Atlas Shrugged, and even in high school thought it was a clumsy comic book for industrialist’s wives, laissez-faire nerds, and jowly plutocrats. You’re pretty sure those aren’t the people you want making policy.

I mean, should this tool really be allowed to take a stubble write-off?

9. So for these and many other reasons, for the first time in your entire life, you’re on the fence. You’re still a proud Republican, but you’re finding it harder and harder to recognize the party that pride is reserved for. You’ve done your reading, you’ve laid in bed at night going over the angles, and the bottom line is that there’s not a single thing about this election that feels good. When the clock strikes three a.m., and you’re being brutally frank with yourself, it’s hard to escape the notion of what a Romney win really means. In fact, you can practically smell the country spiraling into an immediate disassociative fugue as Mitt is sworn in while three hundred million people come to terms with the fact that maybe only three dozen of them actually wanted the guy as president. Pulling the lever for Not Obama is hardly a mandate. Meanwhile, Mitt will be taking office after the most intractable and dysfunctional Congressional session ever. It’s clear that he will be immediately sucked into the partisan mud. He could spend his entire first year trying to pass the Popsicles are Nice on a Hot Summer Day Act, and it would still be doomed. All that filibustering and stalling and debt ceiling-ing felt good at the time, but payback is more than a bitch. It’s a stone cold red lipstick bee-yatch. After the horse-and-pony show Mitch McConnell and John Boehner put on over the last four years, things are only going to get worse. Much, much worse.

Now might be a good time to quietly retire to a hobo camp under a highway exit ramp in south Florida.

10. The painful truth is that no human being can possibly live up to the staggering requirements of being president. Yet we are seduced again and again by the fantasy that simply changing presidents will alter that fact. So even though you hate most of what he stands for, you find yourself unable to deny that President Obama has spent four years being hardened by a total economic collapse, two wars, endless drone strikes, the death of Bin Laden, the passage of health care, a virulent Wall Street, and the most vicious Congressional infighting since the 1850s. If nothing else, the man is now like a steel whipcord, and since he will no longer have to worry about a second term, will almost certainly begin making hard decisions. Unpopular decisions. But actual decisions nonetheless.

This country needs action, not words. Not posturing. Not allegiance to party or fealty to dogma or a return to car salesman platitudes.

That’s why you’ve decided that, as much as it hurts, the most patriotic thing you could possibly do this year is to vote for the man who is simply better equipped to spend the next four years trying to sink a pick-axe into hopelessly intractable mess this country has become.

And so, for no other reason, you’re voting for Barack Obama in November.

Because you’re a real American.



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About Sean Beaudoin

Sean Beaudoin (@seanbeaudoin) is the author of five novels, including The Infects and Wise Young Fool. His new short story collection, Welcome Thieves, is just out with Algonquin Books.
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