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Greenwich is in hiding after the elections

November 14, 2018

“It’s time to take a mental rest from the urgency of our local politics, Claire. It’s simply too fraught with complications,” my friend texted me this morning.

So … ah …. that would be a SORRY, NO. This will be my last one for a while though, I promise. I think I promise.

So get this: My friend’s wife, Jill, met up with a friend of 15 years amid all the midterm election energy that has engulfed our town in recent weeks. These women had raised children together and now found themselves lunching, as empty-nesters are wont to do.

Everything started off civil, even though they knew they were from opposite sides of the aisle politically. Then gun control came up and all hell broke loose. Le Penguin hasn’t seen the like since the British sacked Danbury in 1777. The meal ended with Jill’s friend storming out in a fit of rage. No tarte Tatin for her.

I wrote last week about my identity crisis when I found myself voting Republican in state elections, even though I consider myself extremely progressive on most issues. It was tricky for me to write that column — and a lot of friends gave me a really hard time about it.

“I think some of your readership found it disappointing, Claire. You voted against your party, and against a woman,” a friend told me, warily.

“But the entire article was about me having an identity crisis! That was kind of the whole point!” I shot back.

She wasn’t buying it. You would have thought I was Benedict Arnold, another Connecticut resident who went bad.

“There is this ‘woman thing’ in town right now,” another friend told me on election night. A small group of women had gathered to watch early polling at a friend’s house.

“You should write about it for the Motherlode,” another lady piped up. “It’s like this women/moms’ Democrat movement thing has swept through town. You are either in or you’re out. It has forced some women into hiding.”

Forced women into hiding? Hiding from what?

“From all those Democrats who are so angry,” she responded. “I just don’t want to explain why I am voting Republican for certain candidates. They just get too mad. So I hide it.”

Lots of people apparently hid their Trump votes from pollsters before the 2016 election, though the polls were mostly on the mark this time around. But women have definitely been getting their game on in Greenwich and elsewhere. It’s an awesome thing.

Our RTM election was all about women taking over — or as gadfly and blogger Christopher Fountain put it, “a band of far-left women, mostly wealthy housewives with nothing much to do now that summer has ended, and those handsome country club tennis pros have returned to college.”

(I will never let him live that insult down. Tennis pros? The concept that I have nothing to do? OK, I am not going down this rabbit hole, because I’m so angry I may never come up.)

And then was Greenwich’s own Moms Demand Action. I can’t tell you how pumped I was when I heard they were forming in Greenwich. These were my people!

Another friend wasn’t so impressed. “They say they are not aligned with one party or another, but you’re not going to feel so good there if you are a Republican, let’s put it that way,” she said.

When she declined to work on a phone bank for a certain candidate, she pretty much had to pull out. “I was toast, and everyone knew it.”

A friend’s husband remarked recently, “I have a feeling this never goes the other way, at least not in Greenwich. That is, there are never liberal women who are intimidated into hiding their opinions for fear of insulting, being socially ostracized by or hated by conservative moms.”

Not so fast! Check out what happened to my friend Matilda at the Glenville polls on election day:

“I had just finished voting and was rushing off to do whatever, when Abby and Sarah pulled up in a car out of nowhere,” she told me. Abby and Sarah are both hard-core Republican, especially on state level politics.

“They waved me over to the car and gave me the thumbs up saying, ‘So you voted Republican today, right?!’” Matilda said to me, warily. “In actual fact, I voted Democratic across the entire ballot and was totally freaked out by their presumption.”

“What did you tell them?” I asked.

“I lied. I told them I voted Republican.”

And there you have it.

It seems wherever we fall on the political spectrum, Greenwich will continue to mirror the big wide world in this peculiar moment in time. Will we remain polarized until we can no longer talk about politics at all? While hiding? And lying? Come on, Greenwich, rise above!

Or don’t. Disengage and that Le Penguin tarte Tatin will get eaten, after all. It’s hard to leave that one on the table untouched. Especially in Greenwich.

Claire Tisne Haft is a former publishing and film executive, raising her family in Greenwich while working on a freelance basis on books and films.

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