Republican Like Me

Republican Like Me


[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

  • DenisL

    Thank you.
    There is hope for America because of people like you.
    At least you give me hope.

  • Greg

    Love the article, can’t wait to hear the rest. I am 44, married with two children, living in Fresno CA. I have voted as a Republican all my life. All my friends are Republican, my wife is Republican, we donated to Bush many times. But, about six months ago I discovered Ron Paul, his anti-war, small government, stay out of peoples lives message worked for me. But I have found that if I am a Ron Paul supporter, I am not welcome in the Republican Party. It seems that if you are against the war, you are unpatriotic. I have discovered that Fox news is not fair and balanced, they will twist everything to fit their message. I feel as if I have been a robot all of these years.
    I am interested to hear how your experiment turns out, Greg

  • mw

    Thanks. What I really find interesting, is the opportunity for Dems and Independents in Ca to game the Republican primary. I thought it was pointless to register R in a heavy Dem district like SF, until I read that linked LA Times article:

    “…that changed when the state party amended its rules before the 2004 primary. Instead of awarding all the state’s delegates to whomever wins the statewide vote, the GOP doles out three delegates to the winner of each of the state’s 53 congressional districts… The rule change might seem arcane… it has emboldened Paul supporters to organize here in San Francisco, across the bay in Oakland and in other districts with relatively few Republicans, under the theory that it’s easier for a small fish to campaign in a small pond. “We don’t have to chase that many people,” said Burns, a construction site manager from Sausalito who leads a 345-member group of Bay Area Paul supporters who came together through “That’s what makes it attractive.” Under the rules, whoever wins in San Francisco’s District 8 — represented by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and containing 34,000 registered Republicans — will receive the same number of delegates as the top vote-getter in Orange County District 48, held by John Campbell, with 200,000 Republicans. In Pelosi’s district, the winning threshold is low. Primary voter turnout historically is less than 50%, which means fewer than 17,000 Republicans are likely to vote. With a wide field of candidates, the number of votes to win a plurality — and the district’s three delegates — is likely to be just a few thousand.”

    I live in Pelosi’s District, so this was an eye-opener. A small percentage of Dems in the district could seriously game the Republican primary. 7,000 or so votes in the district would give Paul more than a third of the expected vote, probably a plurality, and 3 California delegates at the Republican convention. Same thing could be done in Oakland and other heavy Dem districts. If the Republican convention is brokered, a significant libertarian delegate count at the convention could have quite a impact on Republican policy and and party. It could happen.

  • Jim S

    In 2006 they learned that if unpleasant truth is revealed to Democrats, the Democrats will cause Republicans to lose elections and go to jail.

    But did the Democrats cause these things or is it just convenient for your meme to say so? And I’m trying to understand if you’re claiming that Abramoff shouldn’t be in jail and the things he did should be legal? What was the point?

  • mw


  • Jim S

    mw, it’s a serious question. You provided links and I questioned their context in your post. What did I miss? You spoke of Democrats making certain that someone went to jail for revealing an unpleasant truth. That link didn’t seem to make sense given what you said.

  • mw

    “mw, it’s a serious question…” -js

    Yes. Well, you see, that is kind of the problem. The lines you quoted…

    “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.”

    … were intended to be humorous. So, I am kind of at a loss how to explain them to you.

  • TerenceC

    I have been a registered Indy my whole life – for good reason i think. Politics in this country is such a joke right now we should all be ashamed of ourselves for allowing it to occurr. The Republican party is the Willie Loeman of American politics, what exactly are they waiting for, why are they so dumb? The Democratic party really isn’t much better, they are such pussy’s.

    In 1994 the Rep’s swept into power with the Conract with America. There were a few legislative victories but by large those people who came in were the same selfish, dumb conservatives who morphed into the Tom Delay, Jon Boner (spelling:), types that gave us the last 7 years of hell. So now it’s the Dem’s turn to show up with good intentions and have the entrenched people, money, and process corrupt them.

    I swear they all take turns keeping each other employed – do I hear mandatory term limits?