I’ve never been active in politics. Growing up on the East coast in the ‘50s and ‘60s, my parents expected my brothers and me to agree with them on political issues. Anything less resulted in enormous shouting matches, hurt feelings, and veiled threats. Even today, now that my brothers and I are practically senior citizens ourselves, we don’t discuss political views with my elderly parents. If you aren’t Republican and in support of George Bush, if you neglect to attend church, or if you don’t believe prison is full of people who need to be kept out of sight and out of mind, then it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself. We drink cocktails and talk about sports and the weather. It’s better for everyone’s nerves and high blood pressure.
When I get around my parents I become the suburban 16-year-old I was 36 years ago: sullen, spoiled, and outwardly defiant. Back then I wore overalls, tie-dye t-shirts, mood rings, and moccasins, but my biggest act of rebellion was to temporarily forego underwear.
I didn’t protest the Vietnam War or civil rights. I didn’t go to school with people of color. I only knew three people who went to Vietnam, one of whom escaped to Canada. I didn’t know anyone who’d been to jail, who was poor or foreign or sexually different. Perhaps you might think I was some kind of freak, but the truth is, everyone I knew was just like me. It’s nice to fantasize that we were a part of the wild, drug taking, sexually liberated ‘60s, but most of us stood on the sidelines and watched. I went to rock concerts every weekend, but I was always a little scared.
Now I’m 52 years old and finally ready to join the “movement.” By that I mean, the work that needs to be done to get Bush out of office. No, I’m not going to protest rallies or planning any subversive activities. With a bedridden husband at home, medical bills to worry about, and house payments, I don’t have a lot of time or energy to devote to current politics. But like most things in my life, I’ve come to the left in a roundabout, unintentional way.
Four years ago I went to an artists retreat and met Andrew Boyd, a young man who was trying (and failing) to write a humorous manifesto-advice book for men about feminism, entitled Enlightened Machismo. Andrew is a political pundit, and we became unlikely friends. What I didn’t know then was that he was an active radical, planning savvy theatrical protests against the corporate hijacking of America.
Andrew is the co-chair and director of high-level schmoozing for Billionaires for Bush, a well-organized, liberal leaning media and street theater campaign whose mix of humor, satire and Internet know-how aims to expose the Bush administration’s lopsided economic policies. By impersonating the super-wealthy in an over-the-top manner, the Billionaires for Bush paint the president as a friend of corporate cronyism with sharp, surprising effectiveness. A photo of Andrew in his Billionaire identity, Phil T. Rich, dressed in top hat and tails, smoking an obscenely large cigar and drinking champagne, was recently featured in the New York Times Magazine. His grassroots campaigning is getting some big time notice. Already the Billionaires for Bush have 30 chapters nationwide, including one in the Bay Area. They’re planning a major action on tax day, April 15.
So what’s my role in the Billionaires for Bush campaign? It’s easy and something I can handle. When Andrew comes to town for strategy meetings, as he did last week, I provide him with a roof over his head, clean towels and sheets, and chauffeuring services. I don’t attend his presentations or planning sessions. I don’t even talk politics with him because I still have emotional scars from my youth, preventing me from engaging in anything politically charged. I’m happy just to make sure Andrew gets to and from his meetings on time. It’s about as left as I get right now, but it’s a start.
For more about the Billionaires for Bush (or to become a Billionaire—the website has everything you need to start your own chapter!) go to http://billionairesforbush.com.