… that there was some kind of secret high-sign or signal that we could give to other conservative-libertarian-Tea Party adherents in casual social situations. Even in Texas, a mostly red-state and stronghold of prickly independent free-marketers, there is enough of a leavening of blue-state Dems and Obama worshippers that one need be constrained in discussing politics … by good manners, if nothing else. Especially in the neighborhood where one lives; there are, I know, at least a few Democrats sufficiently enthused about the One to actually display bumper-stickers and yard signs. One of them is a very sweet and cordial gentlemen dog aficionado; he and his wife always adore and pet our dogs, when they see us, and we recently mourned together when they had to put one of their own dogs to sleep. He and his wife are nice people, decent people; good neighbors, home-owners who keep their place beautifully – they fly the Texas and American flags, and a military service flag with two stars upon it – but… But on the back of his truck he has a home-made magnetic bumper sticker implying that the Tea Party in combination with the GOP equals the screwing of America. So there is one thing that we can never talk about, not without risking neighborly amity, and I just don’t want to take the risk. He had an Obama-Biden yard sign the last time out, anyway, so we can’t say we weren’t warned. The nice older couple with the lovely garden just down the street from them were precinct-walking for a Dem candidate this year, so any casual conversation with them also must avoid politics. My own next-door neighbor, an irreproachably middle-class retired civil servant of African-American heritage has an Obama tee-shirt that she has worn now and again, so there again … a careful avoidance of my Tea Party sympathies.

But now and again we have stumbled into a potential political minefield in conversation, most often when the other person ventures an opinion to do with the economy, race-relations, or the upcoming campaign, and then hesitates, looking at us nervously until we assure them of our own libertarian/conservative Tea Party leanings. This happened most recently last weekend, during a venture into the Hill Country, and a stop in a small shop featuring vintage Americana. The place was empty, and the owner was probably very bored, when Blondie and I wandered in. Soon we were comparing our favorite episodes of American Restoration, mutual in our wish that they would show more of the actual nuts and bolts of the restoral job, instead of the manufactured interpersonal drama. Then Blondie mentioned a similar show – Abandoned, which features a couple of guys spelunking through abandoned buildings, looking for stuff they can refurbish, refinish, or repair and sell at a profit. I said how I thought it was just tragic, these factories and churches like the neo-gothic monument in Philadelphia featured on a recent show were just left to ruin, where once they had been the pride of the cities and towns where they were located. In the 19th century and early 20th, people had spent good money to build solidly and well, had manufactured good and useful things, paid wages … and now, it was all left to rack and ruin, and the rag-pickers, raking through the ruins looking for something to sell. The shop owner sympathized, and made a remark about eastern and rust-belt cities which the political leadership had essentially trashed … and then he got a very nervous look on his face, obviously fearing that he had said too much and possibly to the wrong people. Until we assured him that we were Tea Partiers from way back. And then we had a nice conversation, speculating on the eventual outcome of the various campaigns … and really, that is why I wish there were some kind of secret handshake or signal that we could give, so we know right off the bat when it is OK to risk being open about political leanings.

(Cross posted at chicagobotz.net)

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