Let's be honest. We needed Mitt Romney. He made perfect sense. We could put down the sword because, at the end of the day, we were fighting for the same political ideals. We were all Republicans – and fought for individual freedom, smaller government, a strong defense. These ideals were things that we cared passionately about, and were supposed to be more important than cultural or religious divides, more important than what kinds of clothes we wore, or whether we had sex before marriage -- or even whom we had sex with.
That's how it was supposed to be, anyway. But increasingly, the more conservative wing of the Republican Party wasn't accepting of moderates like me. It wasn't enough that we all shared a conservative philosophy that we cared passionately about. It seemed like you had to prove you were conservative enough. It made me uneasy. And, like all humor, my jokes about Romney shielded something very real. It wasn't so much that I disapproved of the Romneys. I worried they'd disapprove of me – my bleached hair, my swearing, my "edgy" clothes, not to mention my gay friends. Would they accept me or scorn me as some kind of closet liberal who didn't fit in?
Being a Republican was sometimes difficult if you had any wayward ideas or attitudes, or if your lifestyle wasn't conventional -- even though what was "conventional" had eroded to the point of being unrecognizable, or didn't exist anymore. Republicans seemed to yearn for the golden era of the Reagan eighties, when AIDS wasn't discussed, along with so many other things. Now, in an effort to pretend nothing had changed, the party seemed like a secret sect, a membership that you had to prove yourself worthy of.
But what about the less "conventional" people who hated groupthink and just wanted to live life without big government breathing down our backs? And what about me? I am passionate about individual liberty. I believe in God and the church, but am as adamantly pro-life as I am passionate in my support of gay marriage. What worried me much more than the Romneys or Huckabees disapproving of me personally – I could deal with that -- was how moderates like me would ever fit into their idea of what a Republican was, or should be. With these exclusionary attitudes, in ten or twenty years there would be no party left.
But it was too soon to go down this road. We'd given up a shot at Joe Lieberman, and had most likely moved onto Mitt Romney. This would bring changes to our Pirate Ship, as our campaign was lovingly called. We'd have to clean up our act a little bit. Not that I really drank much, or ever took drugs. And I was celibate as a nun. But I suspected my days of swearing like a sailor and dancing in the bus aisles were over.
The future was full of unknowns. But I had learned a few things on the campaign already, and knew that change always brought complications and chaos – and sometimes a little entertainment. Drama was inevitable on a campaign and created almost out of thin air. Tempers were always flying, and feelings were always being hurt. There was no question that a running mate would add to the confusion and upset. There would be less time for fun. But I couldn't have predicted just how serious it was going to get.
From DIRTY SEXY POLITICS by Meghan McCain. Copyright © 2010 Meghan McCain. To be published in August, 2010 by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.