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Hard-core libertarian strives to banish Democrats from his life
After Obama’s re-election, Eric Dondero opts for big freeze-out
Question of the Day
While Mr. Dondero’s manifesto itself sounds like talk-radio hyperbole — the election night equivalent of an angry, heartbroken 3 a.m. drunk dial, to be sheepishly shrugged off the next morning — he insists his boycott is both real and ongoing.
The other sister, Wendy, has a Republican husband who also voted for Mr. Romney. Yet when Mr. Dondero visited the couple about a month before the election, he suspected his sister was leaning toward voting for Mr. Obama.
Seeds of self-secession
On Halloween, Mr. Dondero went to a Wal-Mart near his home in Angleton, Texas, and bought candy for trick-or-treaters. He then put a handmade sign near his front door, behind the numerous campaign signs for Mr. Romney crowding his yard.
REPUBLICAN FAMILIES ONLY, the sign read.
“If you were an Obama supporter, you weren’t allowed to get any candy,” Mr. Dondero said. “Now, there was no way for me to check that. It wasn’t like I chased anybody off my property. But I did put out some Romney literature and bumper stickers and stuff with the candy.”
Mr. Dondero’s self-secession from Democrats isn’t entirely sudden. A professional petitioner who makes a living collecting signatures for referendums and political candidates seeking ballot access, he long has refused to carry petitions for the Green Party or initiatives he considers liberal.
“You typically make $2.50 per signature for Libertarian candidates, and the Greens will pay the same,” he said. “My fellow petitioners think I’m absolutely nuts.”
Similarly, Mr. Dondero declines to greet other petitioners — whom he otherwise considers friends — with fist bumps, which he has considered “an Obama thing” ever since the president and first lady Michelle Obama performed the commonplace hand gesture during a 2008 campaign appearance.
A lifelong libertarian, Mr. Dondero said he only votes for Libertarian and Republican candidates and has never voted for a Democratic candidate in any election — in fact, he abstains from voting in Texas judiciary elections because candidate party affiliation isn’t listed on ballots, and he doesn’t want to unknowingly support a Democrat.
At stores that accept Electronic Benefit Transfer payments, Mr. Dondero likes to ask cashiers what the letters “EBT” mean. When cashiers explain that the acronym refers to Electronic Benefits Transfer, or government assistance, he gives them a loud, pre-prepared earful: “Really? I’m paying for this shopping cart full of food out of my hard-earned dollars, and you’re telling me that other people can buy food with my tax dollars and get it all for free?”
Mr. Dondero traces his political beliefs to a pair of formative experiences: living through the “pain and shame” of the Iranian hostage crisis under President Carter and viewing the 1980 television series “Free to Choose,” a 10-part primer on free-market principles hosted by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman.
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About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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