Welcome to RAD
A (fictional?) story of radical revenge
I was recruited in college. It was at the founding meeting for my new brainchild, Radical Activists for Democracy (RAD). I’d been an activist all my young life. Marching in the streets. Protesting injustice wherever I saw it. Standing outside grocery stores collecting signatures in the rain.
Now I wanted to organize my fellow students.
The thing is, nobody came except him: An old guy in a business suit.
He closed the door to the Poli Sci classroom I’d borrowed for my big launch. “Do you really want to make a difference?” He asked.
I nodded, eyeing him suspiciously.
“The root of the problem is,” he continued, sounding professorial, “that we radical Democrats can’t get solid majorities in Congress. What if you could do something about that?” And then he went to the whiteboard where I’d written the proposed name of my new organization, which he erased and rewrote as: Republicans Against Democrats (RAD).
“I want you to lose the rainbow pin and scruffy student look,” he said. “I’ll buy you pressed khakis, a wide red tie, and your first gray suit.”
“What?” I was outraged. “You can’t just bust in and try to spoil my…” But I paused. I wasn’t sure what to call it. My failed launch?
“What if,” he went on, “in fifteen years, a new young generation of conservative Republicans comes into office in Congress and the Senate?”
“That’s going to happen with or without you,” I pointed out.
“And,” he said, “once they begin their terms, they inexplicably start voting for Democratic legislation instead of sticking to the Republican Party platform?”
“And that’s definitely not going to happen,” I added. “Goodbye.” I pointed toward the door.
“What if you were one of those young Republican senators?” He asked, eyeing me.
He sat down in a student desk chair. “I’m thinking long term,” he said. “To an event we’re calling the Big Flip. We’ll put in place sleeper agents to overcome the usual razor-thin margins and be able to pass a sweeping set of radical new laws: Free education and childcare for all, accountability for racially biased policing, an end to discriminatory sentencing, a massive cut in the use of fossil fuels, a major investment in accessibility at all workplaces and schools, a ban on assault weapons. We’ll even fund abortions for all who want them.”
“None of that will ever pass,” I said.
“Unless we plant the votes.” He grinned. “This will be a totally covert operation. You’ll have to go under deep cover. Start your own Republican club on campus. Go to a conservative law school. Run as a Republican for state office. Position yourself for a run on the Senate. And we’ll be behind you all the way, with dark funding and lots of leverage.”
“Leverage?” I asked, even more suspicious.
“Yes. We’ve been spying on top Republicans for years. We know all their dirty secrets.”
“So what? Their voters don’t care about corruption.”
True, but they don’t approve of homosexuality, abortion, or fraternizing with non-whites, do they? There are plenty of things you don’t consider shocking, but they definitely do.”
“I guess that’s true,” I agreed with a frown, puzzled as to where this was going.
“We have recordings of Senators, Congressmen, and Governors that they do not want to see go public. They’ll be happy to offer you top staff positions. And when the time comes, they’ll endorse you and campaign for you as if their political lives depended on it.” He winked.
“That’s so completely dishonest I don’t even know where to begin,” I complained. “Even if it could work,” I added as I thought more about it.
“The ethical party usually loses to the cheaters,” he said. “We’re going to change that.”
“What’s crazy is doing the same thing again and again when it obviously doesn’t work,” he observed, gesturing toward the pile of freshly printed posters I’d hoped my new recruits would put up.
And then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a Paul Rich watch. It was incredibly tacky to my eye—heavy metal band, garish platinum finish, large face with a big R on it that might as well have stood for Republican instead of Rich.
“Put it on,” he said.
And I did.
Alex Hiam is the author of Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key and Silent Lee and The Oxford Adventure (available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon, or at your local bookstore). He’s also a parent and teacher who currently lives in Putney, Vermont.