We saw Michael Moore's "get Bush" docuganda the first weekend it was released and there were laughter, cheers and crocodile tears in the sold-out theater. It's what one would expect from the liberal end of California. But things are different in other parts of the state.
The best man at our wedding 49 years ago now lives in Orange County, Calif., amidst the conservative breezes that blow off the ocean at Laguna Beach. If he could bring himself to see the movie he'd throw rotten avocados at the screen and then walk out. Somewhere between our old working-class neighborhood and the good life in the computer biz he became a born-again Republican. And while we enjoy busting each other's chops over our political beliefs he remains a good and ever-loyal friend.
My dad was a Democratic precinct captain in Chicago and since he was a good soldier who turned out the vote, he had a patronage job. My uncle Red started out sweeping the floor at Monarch Machine Tool in Sidney, Ohio, and ended up chairman of the board. After Red moved up the organizational ladder within his company he became a Republican. Whenever he and his family came to Chicago to visit relatives, Red and my dad would adjourn to the kitchen, break out the bottle and start arguing politics. In the passion of the debate they would shout and call each other names, but in spite of their differing political views they were true friends and there was a certain civility to their battles.
What has changed is the bitterness of the political debate, as we engage in an internal war of ideas and a struggle for leadership. For the first time in my lifetime we have become a nation divided, often too timid to speak our minds or stand up for what we believe in for fear we'll be spanked and sent to our room. Someone once asked whether a house divided against itself can stand. I think he was a Republican from Illinois.
Frank Burge is a contributing columnist for EE Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.