All's Fair in Love and Politics

Susan Christian is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

Some say they always vote a straight ticket. Others take a more independent approach, weighing the candidate's entire platform as well as party affiliation.

When love is the issue, do dedicated Democrats and resolute Republicans mix?

Lisa voiced a "nay" in our pre-election poll. "I would not consider an 'interparty relationship,' " the Newport Beach resident wrote. "I find Democratic men very sexy but utterly unbearable."

Kevin Boethling, on the other hand, registered a firm "maybe."

"I think a person's political beliefs are just one part of their total makeup," he wrote. "Other things such as religious values, education and intelligence are just as important. Many people are too dogmatic, and this includes both Democrats and Republicans alike."

To Julia Emerson, political philosophy indicates a person's "total makeup."

"There are underlying reasons for belonging to the party with which one so strongly identifies," wrote the 30-year-old Irvine resident. "Deeply held convictions over ethical, moral and religious beliefs, as well as financial outlook, optimism versus pessimism, and views on the very role of government are involved. If these views clash, a couple is likely to clash over a lot more than politics."

Emerson added that she knows of what she speaks: "I feel uniquely qualified to answer whether or not I would consider an interparty relationship. My parents met in college (when) they debated each other on the Democrat versus. Republican party platforms. My father, the staunch Democrat, and my mother, the staunch Republican, continued to enjoy debating politics throughout their marriage. They were divorced when I was 12."

The politically divided couple's three children all followed their mother's more conservative inclinations. "Isn't that funny?" Emerson said in an interview. "I've always told my dad it's because my mother is the better debater."

How "Democratic" is her father, retired Judge Leon Emerson? So Democratic that he was appointed to the Downey Municipal Court by former Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. How "Republican" is the younger Emerson? So Republican that she works as the executive assistant to Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez.

"Even as a child, I knew I was a Republican," Emerson said. "I grew up in north Downey, which is almost as Republican as Orange County, so I imagine that my peers had an influence on me. Mom was more involved in her kids' day-to-day lives. And, I'd like to think that she was right" about her political beliefs.

She does not recall heated arguments--rather, intellectual discussions--about the divergent political viewpoints. "My mom says that politics is one of the few things she and dad had in common," Emerson said. "It wasn't politics that got in the way of their marriage, but the fact that they were coming from different places. Their attitudes and philosophies didn't match.

"It's hard to pinpoint exactly: Mom is deeply religious, and that's not so important to Dad; mom is a homebody, dad loves parties; dad was always trying to help society at large, mom was more focused on her family; mom was a little more strict. They're both wonderful people--they're just different."

In her young and foolish days, Emerson dared to date a Democrat. "He was intelligent and attractive, but somehow it was hard to feel close to someone who differed from me so much on such a deep philosophical level," she wrote. "Today my boyfriend is a Republican. I'm glad, because it means we agree on so much more than what is strictly known as politics."

"My (Democratic) boyfriend would say to me things like, 'Don't you feel for the hungry, the homeless, the underdog?' " Emerson recalled. "I'd say, 'Of course I do, but it isn't the first thing that occurs to me.'

"I think that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats look at people as a whole, and Republicans look at people as individuals. For instance, I feel that training someone for a job is better than just giving him a handout."

Also a Republican, and also 30 years old, Boethling takes a more flexible stance on biparty relationships. "Just because a person is a Democrat doesn't mean they have nothing to offer," the Anaheim resident charitably allowed in his letter.

"There are more than 60 million Democrats in the country, and to think they are all alike and have a united mind-set is ludicrous. Everyone is different, and even though they might think one way on one issue does not mean they'll think the same way on every issue. Democrats come in all colors, shapes and sizes, just like Republicans. To write off one-half of the population because of their political persuasion is foolish.

"I would have no qualms about dating or marrying a Democrat," Boethling continued. "It's the whole package that should be looked at. I would rather go out with someone who has slightly different political views than someone who has no political sense.

"Intelligent discussion between people of varying viewpoints is constructive. By listening to others you are forced to re-evaluate your own views. Even Ronald Reagan, the Republican of Republicans, came to change his views on Russia.

"If you're not interested in hearing alternative opinions, you might as well talk to a mirror," Boethling, who works for an electronics company, said in an interview. "You can learn things from people who think differently from you. And sometimes listening to other people's ideas can reinforce your own beliefs."

Mark, 28, a Democrat, wrote: "Living in Orange County, I would never have a date if I didn't date Republicans. But often Republican women see the world from a narrow perspective and are more materialistic than I. I usually lose my interest in them after about the third date.

"The feeling is probably mutual," he said in an interview. "As soon as they find out that I rent an apartment rather than own a condo, and that I drive a Toyota instead of a BMW, they suddenly remember that phantom boyfriend. I'm sure I'll end up marrying a nice Democrat someday."

The Irvine teacher sounds like the sort of man who frustrates Lisa --yet another 30-year-old Republican.

"A Democratic man will tantalize you with his flair for fun and with his easygoing nature, and then torture you with his unreasonableness and irresponsibility," she wrote.

"It really comes down to money. He feels guilty about it. Most of the Republicans I know think of money as the tool of freedom. With it we can create jobs, save whales, or whatever else we want to do. (The Democrat) feels it taints everything it touches.

"If we talk, we fight. But he is a great kisser!

"The person I described in my letter is a composite of a lot of Democrats I've dated," said Lisa, a stockbroker. "I've had some fun relationships with Democrats, but they never turn into anything serious."

Regardless of the fact that she does not consider Democrats "marriage potential," Lisa finds members of the opposite party "incredibly sexy."

"Republican men tend to be businesslike and up-tight. Democratic men are creative free-spirits --but then they can't pay the rent. I probably make five times the amount that any Democrat I've dated makes.

"Republicans take you to nice restaurants. Democrats are good at knowing the cheapest restaurants that serve the biggest portions of food--and even then you go Dutch. Republican men open doors for you, Democratic men let you fend for yourself. Republicans don't know if it's too early in your relationship to kiss you good night, the poor dears. Democrats are so sexy that you end up being the one to attack them.

"What I need to find is a Democrat who has inherited a lot of money," Lisa concluded, half-seriously.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
56°