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Making Fun of Democrats and/or Republicans

Making Fun of Democrats and/or Republicans
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Welcome to the August 2008 edition of Jud’s New England Journal, the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Making Fun of Democrats and/or Republicans

Actually, New Englanders have always managed to make fun of just about everyone …

Since the days of Roosevelt and even further back, the Democratic party has, rightly or wrongly, been associated with the antithesis of New England thrift. Therefore, like the federal government, tourists, and New Yorkers, the Democrats have always been a favorite and traditional subject of New England humor. I should add here that Democratic jokes cannot be turned around to become Republican jokes. They’re not interchangeable. Nor are they like so-called ethnic jokes, in which you can usually substitute almost any ethnic minority for another ethnic minority.

For example, if you substituted “Republican” for “Democrat” in the following old-time story, often told by the late Sherman Adams when he was governor of New Hampshire, it simply wouldn’t be funny.

The governor’s version of the story concerns a boy in a Vermont village near his home town (Adams was raised in Vermont) who decided to go to college. His parents were willing to help him but were unsure about some of the ideas he might pick up out there in the wide, wide world.

“Sure enough,” Adams would say, “the boy came back from college a Democrat. The family was very upset about that and considered that he’d been under the auspices of evil. To make matters worse, the boy founded the local Democratic Club and on the next Fourth of July organized a parade. His father pulled down all the shades in the house and wouldn’t let anybody look out to see what was going on. But then he got curious and picked up just the corner of the shade and took a peek. In horror, he turned to his wife and said, ‘My God, Samantha, they’ve stolen our flag!'”

Oh, how Adams loved that one. Anyway, here’s one more, as told by the late Professor Allen Foley of Dartmouth College and involving a Texas Democrat and a Vermont Republican. It takes place in Texas and has a double whammy because New Englanders enjoy putting down Texans (and I’m sure the reverse is true) just as much as they enjoy putting down Democrats.

“How come you’re a Republican?” the Texas Democrat asks the visiting Vermonter.

“I come from Vermont and my father was a Republican,” replies the Vermonter.

“Oh, I see,” says the Texas Democrat. “So I suppose if your father had been a horse thief, you would have been a horse thief, too.”

“No,” says the Vermonter. “In that case I would have been a Democrat.”

So how do New England Democrats — and there are lots today, maybe even a majority — counter all these old-time New England “Democrat stories”? Well, one of the most effective means is to utilize all the “wealthy, fancy, city slicker” stories and then simply substitute “Republican.” Maybe that’s not fair, but fairness and accuracy have nothing to do with New England humor. Come to think, fairness and accuracy don’t have much to do with politics either.

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Making Fun of Democrats and/or Republicans

Updated Friday, August 1st, 2008

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