23 Oct 2013

A House Divided

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Jeanne Safer (Mrs. Richard Brookhiser) discusses her own marriage of political opposites.

This November fifth, like every Election Day for the last three decades, I’ll show up faithfully at my polling place rain or shine, even if there’s another Hurricane Sandy in New York City. Once again, I’ll be pulling the levers for some people I actually agree with, for some I’m not crazy about, and for others I’ve barely heard of. As long as they’re Democrats, they can count on my support.

It’s a matter of moral obligation, not just civic duty: I’ve got to cancel out my husband’s vote.

For thirty-three years I’ve been happily married to a man with whom I violently disagree on every conceivable political issue, including abortion, gun control, and assisted suicide. I thought the recent government shutdown was absurd, infantile, and destructive; he was a fan. And not only is he a conservative Republican, he’s a professional conservative Republican, a Senior Editor of National Review, the leading journal of conservative opinion in the country.

So why don’t we both just agree to stay home on Election Day? Because, even though I trust him with my life, I don’t trust him, and would never ask him, not to vote his conscience. It took our first decade together for me to accept that not even my considerable powers of persuasion as a psychotherapist—not to mention the self-evident correctness of my positions—would never make him change his mind, but, alas, it is so; he never even tried to change mine.

Other than my father, I never even knew any Republicans growing up, and certainly never had one for a boyfriend. But in my late twenties I joined a Renaissance singing group, and there he was—tall, clever, with intense blue eyes and a lyrical baritone. I couldn’t resist. I’d known and been treated abominably by too many men who shared all my opinions to let his convictions get in the way, and I’ve never regretted it. Our wedding was a bipartisan affair. My mentor, one of the early victims of the McCarthyite purges, gave me away, and my husband’s publisher, one of McCarthy’s most avid enforcers, gave a reading. Somehow everyone behaved, setting a trend that we have emulated with only a few brief exceptions ever since.

Read the whole thing.

It was my wife Karen, who introduced the future happy couple, at her singing group many long years ago. Jeanne really doesn’t like me. I argue with her.

3 Feedbacks on "A House Divided"

T. Shaw

We didn’t need another reason to reconstitute the Rule of Thuimb.

Steve Wilson

I do find it interesting that she is a doctrinaire democrat. She pulls the lever regardless of anything but party affiliation, but her own personal history of relationships are what led her to turn from those who “agree” with her and treated her badly who one who disagrees with her but treats her well. I think the psychotherapist could use a little introspection and reconsider the validity and infallibility of her opinions.

Steve Bodio

While I agree with Brookhiser’s politics, she sounds charming. But did you see the foaming idiots trashing not just conservatives but HER at the original site? I have liberal friends, but ones with a sense of humor, not these blind ideologues. They hate to hear it, but they demonstrate it every time they offer an opinion: in this nation these days, the intolerant bigots are on the LEFT, even as they preach “diversity” at the rest of us.


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