As sad as it seems I graduated from college nearly 20 years ago. A little education and a lot of experiences. This story involves one of the latter. It is such ancient history that any parts I have forgotten will be creatively embellished for a seamless narrative.
We’ll say it was 1994. Back then I was a right-leaning “conservative”, one of millions about to be suckered in by the Contract ON America. (Remember that?) I still listened to Rush Limbaugh who, at the time, was still entertaining. Per my stance against joining I had never affiliated with any political party.
The previous year I attended one debate between the campus Republicans and Democrats. I should say “debate” because it wasn’t. All I saw were two sides of the same coin arguing over which one was uglier. I being new, they asked me for my opinion once the show was over and I told them something similar to the previous sentence and left. I never went back.
That next year I found myself still interested in political comradery. A decent, seemingly informed classmate told me about the UGA Libertarians and implied I should visit a meeting. I knew my views were much more inclined to those of the LP than the GOP but I saw the former as too weak to make a difference. They still have the same problem. But, then, I decided to plunge in and take a look.
I don’t even remember what season or quarter it was but it seems like the event was held in the evening. (Maybe it was 4:20…) Intrepidly I ventured to the Tate Student Center, home of the pool tables and the corn-dog. I reported, as instructed, to room 107.
There I waited patiently as the room filled up. It filled with women. I was the only man present. Oddly, I didn’t feel all that lucky. These women were pleasant enough. There was a semi-wide variety. Some were overtly attractive. Most wore black and all of them exuded a strangeness that, at the time, I couldn’t comprehend.
Their leader arrived and commenced some sort of weird, hypnotic, arms-waving chant. The group responded in like fashion. I grew slightly nervous. I asked the black-clad, chanting young lady beside me if this was the UGA LP. She said, “No, sweetie. We’re the UGA Witches. This is room 107. You want 207.” Not wanting to be turned into a frog or something, I excused myself politely.
On my way up the stairs something told me to abandon the night. Somewhere in Athens a beer was waiting for me. I shook it off. I was no quitter. Liberty needed me. Uggghhh…
In room 207 I found a gathering crowd of pleasant, normal-looking, seemingly okay people. No chanting. No black. I confirmed with the first man I saw that this was in fact the campus chapter of the LP. I took a seat near the middle of one side of the large table which occupied the room’s center.
Very soon thereafter a large group was present. I still detected no unusual activity and I began to relax. That beer could wait.
The president or chairman or whatever took his place at the head of the table. He called the meeting to order, made some perfunctory remarks, and welcomed any newbies. Very orderly, efficient and polite. I felt genuinely welcome.
He then said the best way to kick off the affair was to have everyone state the main issue which attracted them to the LP. He started; his issue was the legalization of marijuana. The comments moved clockwise, to his left and towards me. By coincidence the next person’s main issue was marijuana. As was the next’s. And the next’s. Pot, pot, pot, pot, green, and weed.
The process came to me and I, looking around thoughtfully, said that I thought Americans paid too much in taxes. Taxes, I said, should be cut – dramatically. These remarks caused a stir in the room with many heads nodding affirmatively. In fact, the dude to my left, next in the rotation, acknowledged my sentiments. He said that if taxes were cut, then we would all have more money to buy pot. Pot was his central issue. The discussion rounded the table.
Pot, pot, reefer, green, pot, weed, pot, pot, MJ, pot, whacky-tobacky, pot… At last the floor again belonged to the leader. He seemed pleased with the direction of the discussion and avowed to keep it going. We should all, he said, explain our second issue of attraction. His was still marijuana. Pot, pot, pot, pot, pot and back to me.
Now, somewhat flustered, I thought hard. At the time I really didn’t care one way or the other about pot. I still don’t. Yes, I agree it should be legal. I had no problem with the opinions of my fellows, only with their redundancy. I thought for a second and said, “I like guns.”
More murmuring and many a nodding head. The man next to me became animated with delight. He declared that they had long needed “this guy”, meaning me. He said we would definitely need guns in order to protect our … pot…
Pot, pot, pot, pot, pot, pot …
I then knew this was an exercise in the futile. I asked the animated character to my left where the restroom was. He got even more excited. Leaning in, with a half-crazed look in his glazed eyes, he asked, “You going to smoke a joint?”
No I said. Gotta…number two. Big. One… I … I have to run. And I did.
I left and headed downtown. I did use the restroom – at a bar, though mainly to ask the mirror what the hell I had just been through. The beer and I finally connected. It turned out to be a good night.
And that was my defining experience with the LP. And with the witches of America.
I still like and admire the Libertarians. Thereafter I went on to (lazily) support Harry Browne’s 2000 presidential campaign. He, you might recall, did not make it. I also paid for a dinner for a Georgia LP congressional candidate and his senior staff. He also failed to win office.
I no longer associate with politicians (or witches) – at least not in the formal, supportive sense. As I noted yesterday, the Pot Party is still the party of pot. Whatever else they may be, they are consistent on that issue.
They still want to toke and I still like guns. There is a constant in the universe.
Happy Friday, all.