Confessions of a partisan political junkie

I love politics.  I’ve loved politics for years, going back at least as far as high school when I volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of Mel Carnahan.  (I got to go to his inaugural ball as a result, which was incredibly cool.)  If you count an abiding love of “Bloom County” as any kind of indicator, I’ve been interested in politics since middle school.  (I loved that comic strip even though most of the jokes went sailing over my head.)  Of the myriad ways my nerdiness made itself known, my willingness to hold forth about politics as a pre-adolescent was a biggie.

I love politics.

I also love pageantry.  I am a sucker for hoopla and bombast and big, glorious celebrations.  Much of why I enjoy the Olympics is all the fanfare that surrounds the Games themselves.  Lord knows I’d be the last Oscar fan in the world to tell you I enjoy them because they legitimately reward artistic merit.  I tune in for the glamour and the glitz, with an occasional award for true quality thrown in every once in a while to maintain the illusion that it’s why we’re really watching.  Bring on the extravaganzas!

Finally, I like to think that I am an even-handed kind of guy.  Perhaps I delude myself, but I believe I would vote for a Republican candidate if said candidate offered sane, reasonable policy alternatives for the country.  Liberal that I may be, I can still see the merits in what conservatism has to offer, and unchecked liberalism is no better for the country than unchecked political philosophies of any stripe.  We need robust debate for a healthy democracy, and unfettered access to power for one party alone is a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, not one single GOP candidate for president during the primary season got anywhere close to what I consider “sane and reasonable.” (The closest, Jon Huntsman, threw his lot in with the lunatics when he joined them in figuratively walking away from a ten-to-one debt reduction deal during the debates a year ago.)  Maybe some previous iteration of the well-coiffed mound of silly putty we call Mitt Romney would have qualified, but not the one who will be accepting the party’s nomination later this week.  Viewed as a whole, the offerings this cycle were the sorriest bunch of clowns I’ve ever seen, the antediluvian social opinions of some apparently more entrenched than I can believe for a party in 2012.  Factor in the nakedly obstructionist tactics of the Republicans in Congress, and we’re left with a near-zero chance that I will be voting Republican anytime soon.

So as much as I love politics, and as much as I love pomp and circumstance and gigantic parties, I won’t be tuning in to any of the Republican convention.  A not-insignificant voice in my head says that this is a failure of fair play on my part.  If I am to be truly informed, says this voice, I should hear what each candidate and party has to say when they are saying it at their loudest and most organized.  But since it is highly implausible that any of the GOP candidates or speakers will say anything to make me even consider voting for any of them (eg. “We were totally wrong about a lot of things, and have changed our minds in the following ways…”), it just seems like a waste of time.  Given that the preview I heard of Romney’s speech had me yelling at the radio on my drive home yesterday (particularly the line that the President wants to make America like Europe, which would be hilarious if so many people didn’t think it was true), why should I do that to my blood pressure?

Perhaps I am not as evenhanded as I’d like to believe.  Perhaps I don’t value being as fully informed as one would hope.  After all, I will almost certainly tune in for at least some of the Democratic convention.  In any case, I just can’t make myself do it, even with a well-mixed martini in hand for sustenance.  I just know there will be something else on that I’d rather watch, even if it’s a blank screen.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I feel the same way.

    Sadly the Republican party often makes me so angry that I can only read about them instead of listening.

    I never got my liberal friends who could listen to Talk Radio as a source of entertainment. It just makes me angry and raises my blood pressure.

  2. “Oh, yeah. That’s why I don’t vote for you guys.”

    Any week where I don’t say this three times is a good week for (insert out of power political party here).

  3. “Maybe some previous iteration of the well-coiffed mound of silly putty we call Mitt Romney would have qualified”

    space awesome

  4. I was a political junkie very young; I watched both 1972 conventions gavel-to-gavel, the way the networks used to cover them. (For people whose memories don’t go back that far, the conventions were to news bureaus what the Olympics are to sports bureaus, except that there was no exclusive coverage and everything was live.) While the GOP convention was a coronation, there was drama and some uncertainty at the Democratic one, plus delegation challenges, floor fights, and real competition among the networks for the best interviews and inside information.

    Nowadays, we know who the nominees are months ahead of time, and the conventions are scripted within an inch of their lives. I haven’t watched one for years, and don’t think I’ve missed a thing.

    • I’ve no choice but to agree. The only notable thing that can happen at a convention these days is something going wrong, along the lines of Pat Buchannan dumping a backhoe’s worth of quivering, bloody red meat on the 1992 GOP convention floor.

  5. I was a registered, check writing republican untill 2008. So of course I’m still on the mailing/call lists.

    Last week I got a call, asking to donate, and was so disapointed that the young man did not appreciate the irony of me telling him that “I would have to wait until my federal student loans came in” to donate.

  6. I really forgot about the convention until I popped in here. We spent the day prepping for Isaac and watching a Bones marathon. It was either Bones or the weather channel. At one time the projected eye passed a half mile from the house so no convention. They have moved the eye farther east now so it is five miles away.
    Even without the storm we would not have watched the Republicans talk about how great they are. But have to disagree about them not having a sense of irony. I went to google to find out who the Greek god of weather was and found out Anemi is the god of wind and right under her picture are the words” Mitt Romney official site”.

  7. I have fond memories of working at the LBJ headquarters in 1964. I made phone calls, stuffed envelopes, and generally did more than I did at a booth in St. James a few years ago.

    Walmart is out with the political greetings cards, and I saw this one today: A guy walks into a bar who is conservative, liberal, and moderate, and the bartender greets him with “Hi, Mitt.” (Of course, a good Mormon would never enter a bar.)


    • A guy walks into a bar who is conservative, liberal, and moderate, and the bartender greets him with “Hi, Mitt.”

      Was it actually written like that on the card?

      • Reminds me of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of marriage.

        • Oops, I got it wrong; it’s a conservative, a moderate, and a liberal walk into a bar–much funnier.

          • Right. If you lead with the fact that it’s only one guy, it kind of kills the pacing.

  8. I seem to remember a certain 4th-grader being pro-Mondale, much to the dismay of his fellow students

    • Pretty impressive for a 4th-grader to have any awareness of politics whatsoever.

      • When was in 4th grade we had definite pro-McCarthy and pro-RFK cliques. Based, I’m sure, on whom our parents liked.

      • … I know the guy who was scared shitless of Reagan. In around… second grade or so.
        Started making plans for “oh shit, the adults are crazy.”

    • I opposed Mondale vociferously. I mean, he wanted to be president. Ronald Reagan was president. Why was he this meanie that wanted to take Ronald Reagan’s job?

      I did not yet understand democracy.

      • That was my seven-year old’s position in 1980, until my (older by 11 years and a Republican) brother explained to me that if Carter were reelected, the price of candy bars would go up.

        Score one for the Misery Index!

    • Thank you for that happy reminder, Joe. IIRC, my support for Mondale was premised on opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative, which (in keeping with most 9-year-olds) I understood poorly. A more honest assessment would be that I was parroting what one of my best friends at the time was saying, no doubt parroting his parents.

      Yessiree, support for Mondale. Another one of Russell’s Great Moments in Popularity.

      • You were the only 9-year-old in America who was opposed to Star Wars.

      • My mom tells me two stories about my grandparents politically:

        1. My grandfather was very upset when Adlai Stevenson lost. In 1952 and 1956!

        2. They were both extremely upset when Salisbury Park in Nassau County was renamed Eisenhower Park.

        Now that is being Democratic.

        No doubt that a decent amount of my liberalism and support for the Democratic Party comes from family history and biology. However, it never occurred to me to flirt with being a Republican just because it would piss off my parents and grandparents. I knew quite a few Alex Keaton’s in high school who did this.

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