A week after the election, I got a call from a network executive to whom I owe a pilot script. "Take as much time as you need on it," she told me. "I know this must be a difficult time for you."
She wasn't alone. Another friend texted, "U R my only Repub. friend n I feel bad 4 u. If u need some1 to get drunk w/ im up 4 it. Promise not 2 gloat. Much." Which he didn't, much, when we got together a few days later. And that's what's been so surprising about the pummeling we Republicans suffered last month: the gloating has been unexpectedly muted, at least in my circle.
Yes, the usual cable loudmouths spiked the ball in their usual loudmouth way. But if my experience is any indication, the friendships that had been tested by the long and bitter election have emerged intact and may be even stronger.
I live in Southern California and work in the entertainment industry, which is about 95% Democratic, so pretty much every friend I have out here leans left.
I've never been an in-the-closet Republican. Hollywood, despite its single-party politics, is a pretty accepting place. Shoplifters, drug addicts and Republicans can all find a way to earn their peanuts in the circus of show business, and the lefties who run the place are a lot more tolerant, if my conservative friends in academia are to be believed, than your typical university tenure committee.
Why is Hollywood so resolutely left wing? The big reason, of course, is money. For most Hollywood celebrities and executives, money cascades into their pockets with such torrential velocity that it ceases to have any real meaning. Sort of like the federal government.
But because of the piranha swarm of agents, managers and lawyers--all of whom take a slice of their clients' salaries--most Hollywood types never see their paycheck, which has the most effective piece of Republican direct mail ever invented, the pay stub, attached to it.
The pay stub enumerates all the little ways the government squeezes you dry, and the initial shock of seeing it laid out like that is the first step a lot of people take on the way to joining the GOP. But if you're used to having your paycheck sliced and hollowed out anyway by greedy managers and grasping agents, what's another vig to pay?
It may also have something to do with the archaic concept of hard work, which normally involves lifting or moving or welding heavy objects, or toiling in some airless cubicle in desperate need of money. It does not, unlike in Hollywood, involve yoga, iPads and buying $8,000 shirts. Put it this way: the grips, dolly pushers, camera operators, set builders, film loaders and electricians on any movie set tend to be on the rightward side of the political discussion. The other folks, who tend to sit in their trailers drinking bottles of French water and eating raw food, are usually on the left.
Still, it's been those folks who have been so gentle with me since the Great Republican Collapse of 2012. And that has been unnerving. I'm a Republican, after all: I'm instantly suspicious of acts of random kindness.