Cultural Revolutions

The Republican Party Which No Longer Exists

The Republican Party of Mr. M, my parents' 94-year-old neighbor, and of novelist Henry W. Clune no longer exists. This became clear to me while talking to Mr. M in the garden he has kept since before the Flood. He cut some rhubarb stalks and remembered his 20th birthday, on Armistice Day, 1918. He was not enthusiastic about the First World War. "That was one maybe we shoulda stayed out of," I offered. "We shoulda stayed out of them all," said Mr. M, a rock-ribbed Republican and Scots-American and Methodist, in roughly that order. Mr. M ran the YMCA for many years and, befitting his position, was a stalwart of the local GOP. A gymnasium and a Sunday School class are named for him.

"I'm worried about this thing in Bosnia," he said, wiping the sweat from his brow. (He'd been weeding for two hours under a springtime sun before I came along.) "We always get into these wars. None of our business. Why don't we just stay over here and let them take care of over there. Don't send 'em money, nothing." Mr. M volunteered that he'd voted for Bush in 1992 but regretted it; he was eager to vote for "this guy Perot" next time, when he will be 97, a year older than the century.

The novelist Henry W. Clune, Mr, M's senior at 103, was similarly vexed by the war drums when I saw him the next day. "It's stupidity," he said, sipping his martini. "I'm...

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