Yes, it’s Oktoberfest, which means beer selections in a faux Gothic type so ornate you can’t read it, as if Germany had a corner on the Middle Ages. Okay, printing press and all that, but hello, Ariel Narrow, anyone?
That said, there’s some fine beers out there in Oktoberfest land—I just can’t get past the font to tell you what they are. I had something that began with an H as I sat with my Libertarian friend (!!!) who works for a right-leaning think tank. My “H” beer (Haufbrauhaus? Hefeweizen? Hichbineinberliner?), according to the waiter, was “on the dark side,” and so was my date, but as it happens, he regaled me with stories of how open minded and curious Al Franken is. He’d spent some time at the Washington Press corps dinner with the guy and discovered that Al Franken is someone you’d enjoy having a Hefeweizen with, a non-ideologue who willingly explores the issues of the day with a wide range of people, including Libertarian People®, while still retaining a sense of humor. Would that my beer was with Al Franken, you’re thinking, except that my friend also turned out to be enjoyable to hausgab with, liked exploring the issues of the day without freezing into Tea Party rigidity, and had a sense of humor. The older he gets, he says, the less riled he becomes about the ideas that got him into politics.
He’d never, never win a primary in his own party, the ® GOP ® ®.
Meanwhile, back at a German joint in “Middle Long Island,” I’m wondering what a beer drinker is to do about that font and that 9.2% unemployment rate, as my waiter “Ryan” goes beyond solicitousness to outright ass-kissing and my Think Tank® friend moves on to discussing how he likes Obama, too, not the policies but the man himself, an intellectually curious guy not unlike Al Franken, a fellow Democrat—why is it the Democrats are so much more likeable?—and how no President could possibly be popular when unemployment is so high. This guy votes Republican®, though, and come Tuesday, he will negate my vote for progressive candidates at the local, state and national level with his vote for slash-and-burn candidates at the local, state and national level. Unlike him, I’ve never met Al Franken, nor have I shaken hands with Barack Obama. I’ve never even chatted with my local congressman, Tim Bishop, and yet I’ve attended call parties for him and dragged my 9-year-old around the neighborhood with door knob hangers, explaining that this is how changes happen.
It’s not how change happens. My Right-Leaning® friend is the perfect swing voter, he ought to cross over from the dark side to support people he actually likes, and yet he won’t. My 9 year old can’t tip the balance, being ineligible to vote for the next decade. How do open, curious Republicans with senses of humor stand by their party?
When I sip a dark beer, I think of weight. Dark beers have a weight to them, a burden on their shoulders that says, “Batten down. Storm’s a-coming. Find people you like and hunker down with them in the nearest available cellar.” Unfortunately for my Libertarian® friend, the good company’s incorporated by Registered Democrats. Unfortunately for me, what Republicans want to do with their power will unleash a storm that’s non-partisan in its fury. When the dark side wins, it pours on everyone.
-- Julie Sheehan