My grandmother declared me a Communist when I was 16 when I said I didn’t like apple pie.
I wish I was kidding.
In politely declining pie, I apparently also turned down democratic freedoms. I remember sitting in high school government class, taking notes about the difference between a Democrat and a Republican and feeling like an isolated freak of nature. Where did I fit? Could she have been right? Everyone else wanted to know what was important for the final — I wanted my teacher to assign me a political identity.
No such luck.
I could not be a Red. Red does not look good on my particular skin tone.
2008 was the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in. I made my pro/con list for the candidates months in advance. I hosted a pre-election party with pocket Constitution party favors and red, white and blue cupcakes. I decorated them with American flag toothpicks, to clarify their democratic nature. Desserts, I had learned, carry political connotations.
Election day arrived. I set my alarm. I put my makeup on like war paint. I wore my best heels to the poll. I was hot to vote – it was my first time, after all. It’s safe to confess now that I was so excited I took two of the “I Voted!” stickers. You just can’t ration American pride.
I couldn’t wait to tell my grandmother about my voting experience. I was even ready to pretend to like apple pie.
It made no difference, however. She didn’t offer me apple pie that day and hasn’t since. I was crushed — I had officially been blacklisted.
Now, in 2012, it has begun again. In case you’ve missed it, it’s a presidential election year. The political survey calls that interrupt every meal, the mudslinging ads that punctuate prime time TV and the petitioners that hunt you down no matter how fast you walk.
In 2008, these warning signs made me giddy. I eagerly answered the phone and spoke readily about my political beliefs. I researched campaign spending and tactics. I actually stood and listened to the petitioners sell their politics, and sometimes I bought them.
In retrospect, I might as well have provided my exact weight, my medical records, journal entries from the last five years, a DNA sample and my natural hair color.
This year, things are different. I’m a little bit older and a little bit wiser. I’m going to share this wisdom while it’s still early in election season. It’s best to have a plan in place long before November arrives.
The aforementioned blacklist has a silver … er, Red- lining.
The phone rings, and it’s someone calling on behalf of the campaign to re-elect President Obama. They want to know how I plan on voting. I tell them, “I am a Communist.” End of conversation.
“Excuse me, do you have a minute to sign this petition.” No. No, I do not have a minute. I am a Communist. Silence. End of conversation.
An ad for Mitt Romney comes on during the evening news. My parents ask me how I feel about the Republican nominee. I simply don’t — I am a Communist. End of conversation.
So call me Comrade Katie, ship me off to mother Russia and step up to view my Senator Joseph McCarthy shrine. After all, I am a Communist.
Thanks, grandma, for bringing it to my attention.
Contact Staff Reporter Katie Williams via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @kwillicando.