Brother against brother; sister against sister, friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor—the divisive tactics of President Obama have spread civil unrest not seen since Hanoi Jane shook her aerobic fist at the troops in Vietnam. During this election season, I have been forced to delete more friends from Facebook than I have scams, advertisements, and campaign donation requests from my e-mail account. My last check to my candidate in the amount of one hundred dollars has not cleared yet. I am hoping that in fairness, it might be returned to me.
My liberal Hollywood neighbors here in the urban muse of bungalows—the Goth union set painter, the socialist college math teacher, the lesbian marriage-family counselor and her three unwashed yipping dogs, the gay male couple who fly the stars and stripes on occasion from their porch, the mysterious film editor paying rent on a foreclosed house, the marijuana- brownie baking mother of a five-year-old, the writer who collects the coins from the Laundromat, the entitled tree-hugging hoarder who moves her three antiquated cars about the crowded streets—have shunned me since I put the Romney*Ryan sticker on my little Scion three months ago.
Taking my little Maltese out to do his thing has turned into a sordid affair, during which I must be uplifting, cheerful, and nonchalant as the fifty-two percent peer from behind their torn curtains at the war mongering, homophobic, Christian actress who is so cruel and ignorant of the human condition that she voted for a wealthy Republican Mormon.
This new shame bestowed upon me, I can handle. With a smile on my face, I pick up my dog’s daily droppings. I also pick up tossed cigarettes, discarded paper cups, and large crusted logs left carelessly by dog owners who claim no responsibility.
What I can’t handle is the cold silence, the condescending platitudes, and the mocking that has come from members of my own family. When my sibling learned of my sudden political activism, I was told, “The election is already over. You’re wasting your time.” This unsettling remark was delivered over Manhattans at her beach rental in June of this year. I did not inquire and she did not deliver up for whom she would be casting her vote, which was a dead giveaway hint.
My Republican mother got in the act over afternoon champagne when she pitied my resolve. “I’m voting for Romney, dear, but he’s not going to win. It really doesn’t matter. The president does not run the country.” Her entire source of information is The View and her small town liberal newspaper. She has never heard of Fast and Furious, drones over Benghazi, or Islamic Ramadan feasts at the White House. My sister, unfortunately, has.
One daughter, the mother of my grandchildren, has refused to speak to me about politics since 2008, when I suggested that she read Dreams From My Father, Barack Hussein Obama’s autobiography, before casting her vote. I was stopped from any further discussion with, “Mom, you’re such a racist.”
My younger daughter has been in Hollywood too long. “Mother, I refuse to vote for anyone who won’t allow me to have an abortion or take away my contraception.” I told her that I, too, believe in Pro-Choice: I chose not to kill any of my three children.
The crowning glory came from my sibling on election night through a text in which she included a picture of me performing a stand-up routine at a comedy club:
Stand up and be proud!
Your passion is commendable.
Proud of you, sisty!
We are all in this TOGETHER.
God Bless America.
I replied: And you voted for Obama. She has been off the radar since Tuesday night.
A ray of sunlight greeted me Wednesday morning. Out of smokes—I promised the Lord and the Universe that I would quit if Romney took over, for what’s good for the Mormon is certainly good for me—I pushed arthritic Buddy in his stroller the two blocks to the Smoke Shack on Vine Street. Still bravely wearing my Romney*Ryan t-shirt, I leaned into the window. The young Armenian proprietor jumped up and rushed out of the drive-thru shack and hugged me. “I’m sorry. What is going to happen to this wonderful country?”
I have packed away my t-shirt and the red, white, and blue campaign pins. I have removed my makeshift Romney sign—two plastic yard signs sewn together and slipped over the flag pole—at the behest of my one Republican neighbor, who fears for my safety. The sticker is gone from the back window of my car. All that is left is the hole in my heart.
Mother called with her condolences and words of wisdom from one who has lived through eight decades of presidents, depressions, wars, and The Academy Awards. “This too shall pass, dear.”
This time I’m not so sure she’s right.
Written by Juliet Montague