The elephant in the room

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2008 - 8:16 PM

How's it feel to be a Republican in Denver this week? Lonely.

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Being a Republican in a sea of acerbic Democrats, like the one above who plastered a McCain sticker on a symbolic body part, can be a lonely business.

Photo: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

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DENVER -- It's been a lonely week for Erik Glenn, a Republican in a city inundated by the rollicking, celebrating visitors for the Democratic National Convention. It's like being a Vikings fan seated in a section of cheeseheads.

Glenn walks outside his downtown office, in dress shirt and slacks, into a sea of Barack Obama images: T-shirts, bumper stickers, funny-looking hats. Protesters carry signs condemning President Bush. Unprompted shouts of "Yes we can!" echo everywhere.

He is the proverbial elephant in a stampede of donkeys.

But he's been getting used to it. For months, liberal friends, acquaintances and co-workers have been freely spewing about their Democratic leanings. If Glenn reveals his conservative sentiments, they look at him like he's sprouted antennae.

"If you are from the other side, it's almost like you're afraid to say a whole lot about it," Glenn said. So except for when he feels like getting into an argument for sport, he keeps quiet.

"You don't have much of a chance of changing minds when there's so many of the other side and they're so passionate about their candidates and about their issues," Glenn said. "It's a futile attempt ... It's a lot of emotion right now."

But being a political junkie, Glenn can't help but soak up some of the atmosphere. He toured the transformed Pepsi Center. He's watched the virtual army of security surrounding him. He even flips on the TV to watch coverage when he goes home.

"Really, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. It's fascinating to watch the system, he said.

And he tries to look on the bright side. It's good for the country if people get excited about the political process, he said. And it's an opportunity for him to learn the opposition's rhetoric and make better counter-arguments later.

Sometimes, it all gets overwhelming, though. That's when Glenn puts his head down and immerses himself in his quiet office.

But the convention has been making his job more difficult, too. Working in alumni relations for Colorado State University, Glenn has been trying to plan a football tailgating event scheduled three days after the convention. "Trying to order tents in this city has been almost impossible," he said.

Glenn feels for his counterparts in the Twin Cities -- Democrats about to be overrun by Republicans.

His advice: Breathe deeply, stay calm, and schedule some quality spa time. "I am definitely [going to] need the massage afterwards," he said.

Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102

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