I found myself recently at a right-wing, conservative, Republican rally in the South. Me, long-time resident of liberal Massachusetts who believes in peace and spiritualism and independent thinking in a group of people who will vote for a candidate based on his political party and not his platform.
The rain was pouring down as I carried 100 + pounds of hardcover books into the meeting area– a giant colonial home that smelled of old age and immediately reminded me of a funeral parlor. Long white columns lined the front porch where rows of blue rockers sat in perfect precision. Inside, Victorian furniture crowded across plush carpets, crystal chandeliers hung from the high ceilings, and the ladies powder room was bigger than a studio apartment in Boston.
I began making piles of books on the table outside the meeting room as a sea of Republicans wearing red filed past. My hair was soaked and dripping from the three trips from car to porch. The southern ladies in their Sunday best looked like they’d just stepped out of the salon with perfectly tamed tresses, winning smiles, and business professional clothes.
Trying to blend in would be futile, I decided. It would be a miracle if I could get through the event without anyone realizing I was 1) a Yankee from one of the bluest states in the Union 2) not a registered Republican 3) vegan. I planned to tell anyone who asked that I was born in Texas. I played the food allergy card when I politely declined the sausages and bacon sprinkled potatoes that lined the buffet table.
I tried to read the book I was selling– a biography of a man who saved North Carolina from democratic domination– but my attention only lasted 90 seconds. I planned to use the phrase “a rousing biography” if anyone asked for a synopsis.
Lucky the author and subject of the book provided a detailed enough description for the crowd that included the book’s central theme, “Right is rarely wrong.” Who can argue against such a phrase from politicians who upon meeting me for the first time smiled, clutched my hand, stared into my eyes, and said, “So nice to see you again.”