Republican Senator Herb Bateman Taught Me This

Herbert Bateman, Republican Congressman from Virginia
Herbert Bateman, Republican Congressman from Virginia

In 1988 I was going to Thomas Nelson Community College or as we referred to it at the time: “Harvard by the Highway”. I was 18 years old. I had a Mohawk. I was a member of the student council. I was a libertarian (read anarchist).

My best friend at the time was Raul. He was a Young Republican. Our mutual friend was Jim. He was a Young Democrat. We all met at a student government meeting. We had, as luck would find, all sat at the same table. We didn’t say much to each other before the meeting. Once the meeting began everyone was asked who they were and who they represented.

Jim introduced himself: “I am Jim Meisner and I am with the Young Democrats.”

Next was Raul: “I am Raul Carvajal and I am with the Young Republicans.”

I was the last in line at the table beside Raul. I had to think quick. I was not there with anyone. I was a Punk in a band called the K-9s. I was an anarchist. I said: “Hello, my name is Alex Nuttall and I am with the Libertarian Party.” I figured Libertarian was the most acceptable title for an anarchist.

Immediately Jim, Raul and I became friends. Three geeks who liked politics. Albeit dynamic discussions we got along quite well sometimes.

I was closest to Raul. He was a great friend. We had some very important talks. He told me that he did a paper one year on anarchism. He knew I was really an anarchist. He said that anarchism was closest to the Republican ideal than most people realized. Raul also gave me a Buddhist book that I have always appreciated. He said, “Alex, I think you will really like Buddhism. It’s not what other people say it is. Read about it.”

Jim and I were not so close. We locked horns like two mountain goats. One time he sent my ‘zine a letter telling me that anarchism had legal repercussions. I thought it was the dumbest smart letter I had ever gotten. Jim was an excellent writer and an extremely smart man. I published the letter in my ‘zine and shredded the logic as an epitaph to the letter. I thought I was very smart. I was an idiot who had access to a xerox machine.

As it happened Senator Herb Bateman came to our school for a political question and answer a few weeks later. This was sponsored by the Young Republicans. Rual said that I should attend and meet Mr. Bateman. After crying for 20 minutes on the uselessness of government and the evils of the Republican regime I said, “OK, I’ll go.”

I went to the meeting and listened to the pansy arguments and postulates of the students who were there. The Young Republicans were there kissing Herb’s ass. The Young Democrats were lamely debating the planks and platforms of Herb’s policy and the Republican king known as Ronald Reagan. After being a good boy and listening for 20 minutes I started to put my two-cents in.

“What about the legalization of Marijuana?” I asked. I was an avid reader of High Times magazine. I could care less about the subject. I never bought marijuana. (OK I did once, (twice, he is a compulsive liar –Ed.) but that’s another story)

I went on and said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol. More people were (and still are) killed by the use of alcohol and cigarettes. Herb rebutted with the “Our Culture” argument and that marijuana may be acceptable by other cultures but in ours cigarettes and tobacco were. They were the necessary acceptable evils. Herb was a very smart man.

I then countered with homosexual rights. We did not yet have Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell2 for the military. I went on about the evil war machine of the United States. (I later joined the Army in 1995.) Herb came back with great arguments to counter. I was livid, but I felt like at least he was listening to me.

After the forum. The Young Democrats and the Young Republicans got up, shook hands, patted each other on the back, and handed out compliments to themselves for erudition. Everyone, except Raul, looked at me like I was Satan. That’s when I learned one of the most valuable and humbling things in life. Herb Bateman walked up to me and extended his hand. I extended mine. He said, “Great job!” and smiled.

Herb Bateman died September 11, 2000. From that day that I debated him to his passing I always respected him. I even voted for him several times. When you meet a man or woman no matter what flag they are flying that impression of who they are will always be the dominant force. That’s what Herb Bateman taught me. He looked at me as another man.

Footnotes:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_H._Bateman
2. DADT Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed last December 2010.