I'm a strictly partisan voter. I vote straight Democrat, with very, very few exceptions. But, I don't have a partisan personality. I don't often think of myself in terms of my party allegiance. I would never put one of those bumper stickers on my car: "Friends don't let friends vote Republican." In fact, I have several friends who I think should vote Republican. They see the world in an admirable, authentic way that aligns them with the Republican Party. I guess my bumper sticker would say, "Friends don't let friends vote inauthentically."
I guess four words keep me from being very partisan in my social, intellectual, and political life: I could be wrong. I don't want to believe I'm wrong, but I know it's a distinct possibility. It's such a dinstinct possiblility, that I have taken to staying quiet in political situations so I can listen better. I'm so fundamentally insecure in my strict partisan voting, that I listen and listen to those I disagree with and keep trying to be persuaded to jump ship and join the Republicans. It never happens, but I like thinking it could and I enjoy living in the tension of that possibility.
In some mysterious way, this humbleness I feel about politics spilled over into a dream last night. In the dream, I was back in high school and a member of the Kellogg Wildcats and we were playing the Coeur d'Alene Vikings in our home gymnasium, Andrews Gym. In 1972, we Wildcats pulled off a stunning upset of the Vikings. The game went to overtime, we seemed to have the referees in our hip pocket, and when Don Knott hit an improbable fall away jump shot from the left corner that grazed the upper left corner of the backboard and impossibly swished through the hoop, we won. In the real game, I never played. I saw the whole thing from the end of the bench where Steve Jaynes and I had farting contests. Even as the Coeur d'Alene game got tight and exciting, we never let the game interfere with our farting focus.
In my dream, we were having a rematch with Coeur d'Alene. It was in Andrews Gymnasium again. In this dream, I left the gym at halftime. I was still in my basketball gear and I went to what used to be called a cigar store where there were countless newspapers. Instead of being with my team in the second half, I read the New York Times. Then, my dream shifted suddenly to an academic seminar and I was leading a discussion of Augustine. But, my dream's Augustine was better than the historical one. This Augustine wrote lyric poetry, epic poems, sermons, plays, all with genius. Just before the basketball game's regulation period was ending, I returned to the gym. Our coach, Bob Emeheiser, was coaching from inside a school locker, so he couldn't see me come back to the bench.
As regulation ended, Kellogg was down by six points with 1:33 to go. I gave an impassioned speech during a timeout that we had been in this exact position earlier and had beaten the Vikings when we took them to overtime. This time, in my dream, the Kellogg Wildcats lost. Emeheiser took me aside and wondered where I'd been and if I was mad at him. I told him, no I wasn't angry, but something was wrong with my mind. I was going mad. I had to leave. In fact, I told him, this mental illness was bothering me so much, I had seriously thought about not playing basketball my senior year. I do, in fact, often dream that I didn't play basketball my senior year. I don't think I really wanted to be on the basketball team when I was.
So I'm thinking about partisanship and how I'm not really on the partisan team. I dream about leaving the team and when I go, I study, I try to learn about things, and I come back to the team, and coach says (I forgot to say this earlier) that he thought he could have played me in the second half. And we lose.
I suspect this was a dream about pulling back. It was a dream about the guilt I often feel that I can't seem to really campaign hard or try to convince people that they ought to vote for the Democratic Party like I do. I read. I listen. Arguments opposing social programs, affirmative action, tax increases, abortion, the necessity of war sound solid to me sometimes. I have to get away from my party, hold a seminar in my head, listen to the reasonable voices of those I disagree with. I don't do the team much good.
I always come back to the Democrats. It's too late to play. Our team loses. I'm left to explain why I didn't help. I term my desire to learn and to find out more and to step outside the pushing and shoving around the basket a mental illness.
I go back to the locker room, shower, and go home.