Political Savannah Not Fit for Elephants

On our way back to our apartment after eating at Burger King, my roommate and I spotted the Irvine Republican headquarters. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to meet actual conservatives, we decided to pay a visit. As we pulled up to the headquarters, a nice old lady asked if we wanted to volunteer. We politely declined and smiled. She then asked where we were from, and we told her that we were students from UC Irvine. She paused and said, “You guys are Democrats then.” Damn. I knew I shouldn’t have smiled. She could sense the glee in my face as I anticipated victory on Nov 4. Or, it just could be that college-educated people tend to be more liberal, but that’s less exciting.
Not deterred now that our identities had been revealed, we asked if we could go inside. I wasn’t planning on interviewing anyone. Really, I just wanted some type of memorabilia. I was hoping that they had a shirt that said, “I met some conservatives and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Unfortunately, all they had was Pro-Republican stuff and “Obama is incompetent” bumper stickers (go figure). We were then introduced to Karl Heft, the President of the Greater Irvine Republican Assembly. I decided that since he looked like a pretty decent guy, I’d ask him some questions about his boy’s chances. And so the interview began.
First I decided to ask the big elephant-in-the-room question (no pun intended) about what he thought of John McCain’s chances. Heft said it was all about the battleground states, such as Florida, Michigan and Missouri. According to Heft, McCain needs to connect with voters on the economy. I then asked him if he thought the negative campaigning was working. Heft believes that it’s not negative campaigning if “you point out key differences” and that the William Ayers ads were “not negative attack ads.” He likened it to knowing someone in the dorms who hung out with people who stole; could we then go and trust that person? The first thing that popped into my mind was, “Well, considering that stealing music is the national pastime of college students, I’d say yeah.”
It got interesting when I asked Heft why there was a need for a Republican base in a state guaranteed to go Democratic. Heft made it clear that the Republicans had two important issues on their agenda: Propositions 4 and 8.
“Would you want some pervert guy putting on a woman’s dress and getting married? … Gay marriage is blasphemy and is a declaration of war on marriage. It is attacking our way of life. Marriage is very precious,” Heft said.
I thought, “Hmm, he doesn’t like guys in women’s dresses? He must not have voted for Rudy Giuliani in the primaries then.” I didn’t really want to debate him because I figured his words would speak for themselves, and he didn’t stop there. He said that if the Democrats get elected and Proposition 8 is defeated, we could see “transvestite education” in our schools. I’m not quite sure what transvestite education is or looks like, but it went with his whole theme of “guys wearing women’s wedding gowns.”
On Proposition 4 he argued that it was ludicrous that students in school can’t get aspirin, but they can get condoms or an abortion. He then stressed why the courts are so important and necessary in getting Roe v. Wade overturned. When my roommate pointed out that we’ve had a conservative court for some time and that Roe v. Wade has yet to be overturned, Heft responded by placing an “air” dagger in his own heart.
Still not deterred, Heft stated that the recent additions of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court have been good choices because we can’t have any more Souters or Kennedys. He then pointed out Barack Obama’s “extremely” pro-choice stance, which is tantamount to “infanticide.” I probed a little and asked, “So you think Sen. Obama supports infanticide?” He responded again with a little one, two-dance step and said, “Obama supports partial birth abortion, which is infanticide.”
As the saying goes, if you’re in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging. There wasn’t going to be any stopping on my watch. So I asked, “Do you think Sen. Obama is a socialist?”
Heft said, “Yes, he wants to spread the wealth, which is a code word.” So I then asked, “So the socialist is going to win the election? Is your party that bad?” Heft’s informative answer was that many people simply do not know that Obama is very liberal. Obama is just all talk. Heft believes the first job of the president is as commander-in-chief and McCain is best suited for that job.
Heft then went out to say that because McCain was involved with the Vietnam War, he would be less likely to commit us to war in the future. Overall, Heft was a nice guy. He did admit that George Bush hasn’t been stellar and, surprisingly, he was against the war in Iraq. He also stated that the neoconservatives are reckless and, like a lot of Americans, he was affected by the hosing downturn. Unfortunately for Heft, he’s only willing to consider McCain’s change — chump change. On Nov. 4, we’re likely to see real change.

Jaye Estrada is a third-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.