The curse of the moderate politician

Photo Credit: FBI; Broward County Sheriff

Dear Constituents,

I’ve kept my dirty little secret for far too long. But now, with the midterms looming, it’s time for me to come clean. Yesterday, I told my family and friends the truth, and today I’m leveling with all of you.

I’m bipartisan.

Even before I entered politics, I suspected I might be bi. As a boy, I would go to the zoo and pet elephants and donkeys with equal tenderness. In high school, my rival in our race for class president spread ugly rumors, accusing me of being “philosophically ambiguous.”

In college, I put up posters in my dorm room of both William F. Buckley and Adlai Stevenson. I felt attracted to the concept that even views diametrically opposed could result in compromise. I so excelled on the debate team at arguing the other side that I usually lost to myself.

My struggle to cope with the latent impulses within me forced me to operate underground. I frequented below-sidewalk bars where public servants gathered in secret. There, we would whisper about how we saw legitimacy — simultaneously — in raising and lowering taxes as well as expanding and shrinking government.

That’s how I first knew about myself for sure. How could I live such a lie? How could I function as a public representative if while driving I could just as easily go left as go right just as a show of solidarity?

In my desperation, I consulted a psychiatrist specializing in multiple personality disorder, but even he was unable to distinguish between the conservative and the liberal in me. I even considered relocating to one of the few countries left where being bipartisan was still technically legal.

My yearning so overwhelmed me that I had no choice but to schedule clandestine rendezvous in alleys with like-minded elected officials. There, looking over our shoulders, we would try to hammer out our differences on the nuances of a pending bill.

All along, I dreaded being outed. What if someone exposed me as that rarest of political animals, a flaming moderate? Photos would be produced showing me performing the unnatural act of treating allies and adversaries alike with equal respect.

If I were ever found out, many editorial boards would rail against my activities as an abomination. I would be forced to resign in disgrace, dye my hair and go into the federal witness-protection program.

So enough is enough. No more innuendo or slander or stigma or living in the closet. I’ll remain committed to being what our two-party system increasingly rejects as indecent.


Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in Forest Hills.