Every four years we are inundated with political advertisements telling us why those guys are bad and these other guys are the greatest since applesauce. It doesn’t matter what viewpoint you have because the debate over who is right or wrong has been going on since our nation began more than two centuries ago.

It seems easy to tell who is a Republican and who is a Democratic by listening to them. You can also tell the difference by the way they dress and their mannerisms. For example, Richard Nixon was a Republican and wore shorts and wing tip shoes when he went for a stroll on the beach, whereas Bill Clinton is a Democrat and couldn’t keep his pants on in the Oval Office.

Sitting in my old dilapidated beach chair one morning at York Beach I found myself wondering idly if it was possible to tell Republicans from Democrats when they were wearing almost no clothes and were supposed to be on vacation. Take away the Republican’s business suit and the Democrat’s blue collar and is there any real difference between them? Of course, today this concept seems to be reversed.
The first family I observed was a group of four with the father leading the way and the rest of the family following Indian file behind. This clear demarcation of power had me convinced this family was Republican. Actually I suspected the father was Republican with the wife and mother of his children bowing to the political consciousness of her husband. This little group planted themselves a good distance away from me. Actually, no one gets too close to me when I am in my retired mode. In the morning I actually scare myself with my untrimmed beard and rapidly decaying skin.

It took this presumed Republican family a few minutes to set up their little camp. Actually, the husband did very little except stand around and survey the surrounding scene while his wife did everything. When she had set everything out he grabbed a cigar out of a bag and walked to the water.

Overcome by curiosity I had to know if my hunch was correct so I got out of my chair and strolled down to the water not too far from where he stood. Gradually, I eased into the water, trying to ignore the pain, and edged towards him. When I thought I was within earshot I tried a harmless little conversation starter: “Beautiful day today.”

For several seconds he didn’t react, just kept staring out at the ocean and puffed out thick blue clouds of cigar smoke. Then, when I thought he either hadn’t heard me or intended to ignore me, he said: “About time.” So, we had a conversation after all. He was from Natick, Mass. and was a lawyer. Surprise, surprise, I thought to myself. I then sneaked into the conversation what I intended to discover. I asked him what he thought of the upcoming election. It was like blowing up the Hoover dam.

He had to hold the line at all costs, he said. We absolutely have to change the direction of our country because if we don’t the country would never be great again. Not caring to reveal what a fool I was I told him to enjoy his vacation and went back to my chair.

Moments later I found my attention drawn to another family camped a few yards down the beach. I couldn’t believe it was one family because there were multiple adults in beach chairs gathered in a circle while children played around the outside, so I guessed it was two or three families vacationing together.

Socialists obviously so they had to be Democrats. Then I realized this was outmoded thinking. The definition of a family was no longer a man, a woman and children. The possible combinations within this group suddenly became infinite so I went back to my quest to determine what their political affiliation might be.

I wandered over and introduced myself and found out they were all from Malden, Massachusetts. All the men were firefighters and it turned out they were all married to the same number of women in the group. After a while our conversation turned to politics and once again I found my assumption was correct.

They were all Clinton supporters and, without exception, they considered Donald Trump the living incarnation of the anti-Christ. So vitriolic were they in their condemnation of Trump, in fact, they scared me almost as much as the cigar-smoking Republican and his hatred of anyone different to himself.
Again, I bid them adieu and went back to retrieve my chair, which was now half-submerged by the advancing tide. After I had plopped my butt back into my chair I thought how easy my little game was. All the political jargon about how Republicans represented the wealthy and how Democrats represented the working class was true. But, the day was young and I would play my game a little longer.
The next group I latched onto were women sitting together near the water. They were very pleasant and told me they were from Concord, New Hampshire and were down for a girl’s day out. After a few minutes we got around to a bit of a political discussion, which showed these women totally supported Trump even though they were all pro-choice and believed in progressive values.
When I pointed out that Trump held the opposite views to them they said this was a time for change because of the present dangers. I went back to my beach chair with my first loss. I had been sure they were Democrats. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing my guessing game only to discover that, after my strong start, I was nearly always wrong.
Some of the most affluent looking people were life-long Democrats and some of the more blue-collar looking people were die-hard Republicans. So is the reality of our time. Towards the end of the day I noticed a scrawny old hippie-looking guy with a long beard, cut-off jeans and a Grateful Dead T-shirt.
I wandered over to him totally convinced he had to be a Democrat. He turned out to be a Johnson supporter who was second-guessing his choice. Before he finished his statement I thought to myself he must be changing his mind to support the Democratic Ticket. To my amazement he said he would support Donald Trump.
Every four years we are inundated with political advertisements telling us why those guys are bad and why these other guys are the greatest things since applesauce. I just wish there was a better way of telling them apart.
The End.
Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine.
Email Jim: james.fabiano60@gmail.com