Politics Not Spoken Here -- by Andy Richter
So you're standing there, awkwardly alone, at some friend of a friend's party, becoming increasingly aware that your friend, your party anchor, is clearly not going to show. You set out into the roomful of strangers to mingle, and you spot me drinking, tipping ashes into the nearest houseplant. You think, Hey, it's that affable, seemingly approachable guy from that talk show. I kinda know who he is, and that's enough-I've found my new anchor.
Well, sweetheart, to you I say this: Fine, bring it on. But do me a favor. Just keep the conversation restricted to manageable things-like, say, that charming garden variety Manhattan ennui or how Jen or Charles or Prudential Bache fucked you over or how absolutely chilling it is to witness your parents slowly become old people. But please, please, don't talk about politics. Because I'll just have to freshen my drink, take a leak, or, depending on the depth of convictions, go home and get a good night's sleep for that big day of unspecified network-television sidekick-type showbiz stuff that I've gotta do tomorrow. But I guarantee you, I will be gone.
See, I figure we've both thought long and hard about what we are, respectively. So regardless of your two-years-of-grad-school persuasive skills, your intricately constructed rationale for being a supply-side, Republican-voting,-all-the-while-recognizing-the-CandyLand-irrationality-of-libartarianism postconservative, you're not going to budge me from my dipshit-fatalist-lazy-socialist-Democratic liberalism. And why would you want to anyway? Are you an evangelist? An Amway salesman? No matter which team you're rooting for, the outcome will be pointless. You're preaching to the choir or barking up the wrong tree in an endless forest of wrong trees. For the sake of harmony, let's regard our political leanings the same way we would our sexual peccadilloes. We don't need to embarrass each other with these divulgences. I mean, we've only just met.
I grew up in a very political household. My maternal grandfather was a longtime chairman of our country's Republican party. My paternal grandfather was a standard-issue FDR liberal, World War II vet, and a Democratic alderman in a medium-sized midwestern city. As a child, I just assumed that state road crews blacktopped everyone's driveway and that graft was what the doctors did to Ernie Conlan's burns when he spilled a pot of coffee on himself. At various fundraising pig roasts and empty strip-mall storefront election-night parties, I observed the American political animal of both persuasions in its drunken (and most revealing) form-that of, to borrow a phrase from both of my grandpas, the horse's ass. I am, therefore, an equal opportunity cynic.
I don't mean to be a pill. I do vote, after all. (It's fun to get in that weird little booth and flip those switches. I'm a sucker for contraptions.) I'm really not just some fashionable disaffected Gen-X crybaby. I realize that somebody has to care about governing, and I know that their caring frees up time for on-camera snots like me to be snotty. I think my trouble may be that I watch too much Discovery Channel. On it I see, in one night, 50 years of CIA misdeeds and a documentary about animals feeding their babies other animals' babies. All that primal aggression is enough to wreak havoc on the mind of a Zoloft taker such as me. So if you just absolutely have to talk politics, there are ways you can help me be a better listener.
Try swearing a lot. This will, to my ears, lend a homespun grassroots credence to your positions. Or admit that when sinners go to hell, they find it's an eternal elevator ride with the McLaughlin group. Gossip, too, would be great; I'll stick around for your theories on deficit reduction if you fill me in on who in Washington is a drunk, whoremonger, or closet case. But most importantly, please don't try to convince me that I can make any real difference. You'll just make me sad, and besides, I make it a policy to discuss impotence only with my urologist.
This article is copyright of George Magazine, August 1997. Not intended for profit or whatever, and I hope this little disclaimer is good enough so they don't take action against little ol' me.