Not long ago, I went to one of those Hollywood parties peopled with old-fashioned paleoliberals–you know, the kind which is still trying to figure out just how he remains in office. (The name “Bush” is apparently every bit as dreadful in these circles as “Voldemort,” so they don’t say it.) I took my friend Luke Ford, a right-wing blogger known for his tactless remarks but who at least always wears a suit. Luke began talking to a “nice old lady,” as he put it, who turned out to be film producer Marcia Nasatir; back in the ’70s, she was celebrated as the first female v.p. of a major studio. Luke remarked he didn’t plan to see Brokeback Mountain because he had no interest in watching gay men having sex, and did that make him a homophobe? Yes, came the predictable answer.
Meanwhile, a white-haired film editor asked me “if there is anything he could possibly do that would make you stop supporting this administration.”
I thought about saying something like: “Withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow.” Or: “Make a federal law banning capital punishment in all states.” But I actually just tried, futilely, to change the subject. Here in Los Angeles, though, you’d really better have an explanation about why you aren’t one of them.
I’ve become bored hearing myself recount all the usual reasons–I dislike the anti-American Michael Moore element in the Democratic base, have less faith than my friends and neighbors in the government’s ability (or obligation) to solve all social problems, and so on. All that just invites a potentially endless argument.
So lately, I’ve tried getting straight to what finally pushed me over the edge. The reason I changed my voter registration in time for the 2000 election was I realized this would put an end to political canvassers knocking on my door. I hate strangers knocking on my door. And since Republicans never bother with my neighborhood–I’d estimate Silver Lake is more than 95-percent Democrat–that has nearly put an end to that.
It hasn’t been a perfect solution, and I sometimes still feel that familiar weepy sense of self-pity mixed with rage when naïve and / or determined souls march past the big “No Solicitors” sign on my garage, brushing aside the thorny climbing roses I keep untrimmed on the front porch for that very purpose, and (I still can never quite believe it!) knock on the door.
“Just because,” I sometimes find myself thinking (or fuming), “I can’t afford a butler / gated compound / armed sentry in a watchtower with searchlights and electric fence, is no reason they should take advantage of my lack of resources like that. It is unfair.”
I became especially impatient with door-to-door strangers last summer, when my ex-husband and his second ex-wife revived the tedious Punch and Judy show / custody battle they’ve been staging around their son for the past nine years. There were rumblings that I, or (even worse) my daughter, might be subpoenaed so the court could see what kind of a father my ex is around his first family.
The very idea of such an intrusion seemed unreasonable to the point of insanity, and in any case I couldn’t imagine testifying about which of two self-indulgent neurotics was worse. It would be like trying to tell the difference between Patty and Selma on The Simpsons: Can’t be done! Luckily, no process server ever did show up.
By far the most intrepid political canvasser was the bearded, ponytailed guy who pounded insistently on my door one rainy evening around 9:15 p.m. as I was lying in bed watching TV. This was before I’d let the Democrats know I was officially a hopeless case.
“My name is Austin, from Progressive Network,” he said plaintively. “And it’s really hard for me to hear when you talk through the window like that.”
You’ll have to imagine a particular petulant whiny tone here, the kind impatient customers use with salesclerks when they’re about to complain to the manager about bad service.
I pointed out that I had a “No Solicitors” sign up, which he’d ignored. He insisted he wasn’t a solicitor, but Austin, from Progressive Network, and he’d like to talk to me about some very important progressive causes…
“Go away right now or I’ll call the police!” I yelled.
“I wish you would call the police,” said Austin, after a short pause. “Because then at least I’d have a nice warm policeman to talk to, instead of a cold bitch like you.”
He did eventually turn around and leave, but at that point I was so enraged it was all I could do not to open the door at last, if only to chase Austin from Progressive Network down the street and stomp him and his gray ponytail into a shapeless, bloody heap.
So that’s another reason, I explain now when I tell this story, why I became a Republican. It’s my small contribution to public safety.
— Catherine Seipp is a writer in California who publishes the weblog Cathy’s World. She is an NRO contributor.