It's happened again: a perfectly good relationship torn asunder by a difference of political opinion. Oh why cannot the flower of love bloom on the border of the ideological divide? I thought love conquered all. Ex-boyfriend, what happened to us? Oh what aridity, what corruption, of soul, of culture, of country caused these delicate flowers to shrivel and die? I say "flowers" because, yes, this has happened to me more than once. Perhaps my standards are too high. Instead of picking the petals off a daisy and saying "he loves me, he loves me not," I pick the petals and say, "he loves liberty, he loves liberty not" and if he does not love liberty, I find him hard to love.
Oh ex-boyfriend, it could have been so beautiful. You were tall. You were well-educated. You cooked me dinner. You loved your mom, you loved your dog. You read my crappy writing and told me it was good. You said you were tired of the bachelor's life. You wanted to get married! You wanted to start a family! All you wanted was to find someone who would share the mortgage, not get fat, read your terrible writing and tell you it was good…was that too much to ask? According to all those chick-lit books, those ones with the shopping bags and high heels and sparkly martini glasses on the covers, all of this should have been enough for us! But alas, it wasn't.
Things were going swimmingly until that one night – you know the one I'm talking about – that first time I used the "L" word. I saw you bristle, and then you became cold and distant. It made you nervous; I could tell. Perhaps it was too soon. Perhaps I should have waited until the third or fourth month to tell you I was a libertarian. I just didn't want to hide anything from you my pet, my lover. You were everything to me. And I wanted to be everything to you.
Although we "agreed to disagree" and rarely spoke politics after that, I could tell it annoyed you when, last summer, I put a Ron Paul sign in my window, prominently displayed above the town's most popular coffee shop, where everybody, including your friends, could see it. When you noticed it, you scoffed and said, "He's not going to win." Then, you went and put that Obama button on your coat. For the record, my sweet, I thought you sounded like an idiot when I asked you why you liked Obama, and you replied, "He just sounds so…presidential." However, I tried to stay cool. I tried to look on the bright side: Wasn't it Shakespeare who said there must be some mystery in love – and there can be no mystery between intellectual equals?
Looking back, all the red flags were there. But what can I say? I was a woman in love. Women in love are so full of excuses. I told myself what every woman tells herself when she is falling for someone with a worldview that clashes with her own, in other words, when she must confront the bleak prospect of incompatibility: "Well…maybe we'll balance each other out!"
We managed to stay together, but eventually, I had to start looking for ways to fulfill my needs outside the relationship. I started sneaking around. I'm not going to lie. Do you remember when you would call on those Sunday afternoons or on those occasional weekday evenings and I always "missed the call." Well, I was with my Ron Paul meet-up. I'm sorry, baby, but they understood me in a way you never would. I could actually talk to them about things. I'll never forget that day you stopped by my apartment unannounced and found 50 people in my living room poring over county legislative maps, planning a coup of the local precinct committee. I finally had to come clean. I hope you've forgiven me.
It seemed that no matter how bad things got, I couldn't let you go. For one, it's hard to find a man who knows how to dance, and you were the best two-stepper in town. I finally had to admit to myself that we were incompatible, but I had a plan B. I believe it was Mencken who said it is the unique talent of the woman to always believe she can succeed where others have failed. I thought to myself: "I can change him!" I thought surely you must be prone to reason. Like you, pie, I am often too easily seduced by the idea of change.
I gave you brochures. I sent you links to articles on Lew Rockwell. I made you read Rothbard. I told you everything about Ron Paul. For a while there, it seemed like you were coming around! I even convinced you to read Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Then we discovered more things we had in common, like hating Republicans. Remember all those lazy afternoons we spent lying on the couch, holding each other and talking about the different ways we would like to murder and torture the President? "Poison him with depleted uranium!" "Waterboarding!" "Make him read a book!" Indeed, it was in those moments that I saw a gleam of hope.
I'll never forget the first time you agreed to come to church with me. It was Easter and you had just purchased a new suit for a wedding you were going to be in. When I drove by to pick you up, you came strutting out of your house, a peacock in sunglasses.
Once you were in the car, I said, "Are you only coming to church with me, because you want to wear your new suit?"
You said, "Yes. Do we get a free pancake breakfast?"
"Donuts and coffee?"
"No. Get out."
Oh funny ex-boyfriend, my little liberal cockatoo.
We still had our bumps in the road, but overall things were fairly copasetic. The Ron Paul group had managed to win the county for Ron Paul on Super Tuesday, and I think after that you thought my obsession would die down. But it didn't. I think you thought it would just be a phase. But it wasn't. You soon tired of hearing about Ron Paul. Then, when he came to town in April, I stood you up to have dinner with him. I even had the honor of introducing him when he gave a speech at the University! (Yes, ex-boyfriend, this letter has largely become an excuse to gloat on the Internet about the time I met Ron Paul.) You weren't too happy when you came over later that week and found that the framed picture of you and I had been replaced with a picture of me and him.
You said, "Why do you care so much? Don't you get it? He isn't going to win."
Then I punched you in the face. After that things just sort of fizzled out I guess.
Ex-boyfriend, I would just like you to know that I do not blame you for the problems in our relationship. I blame libertarians, with their ideas about sound monetary policy, non-interventionism, free markets and peace, ideas that seem to make some kind of logical sense and are based on some kind of truth, not on what people want to hear. It isn't right that ideas, mere ideas, should come between me and those that I love. It seems ideas, mere ideas, are condemning me to a life of solitude and lovesick misery. For the record, if I end up alone at the age of 90 with 37 cats, shuffling around the public spaces with grocery bags on my feet while ranting and raving about the government, it will be all the libertarians' fault!
Faithfully yours, Ellen
September 24, 2008