Waukesha home is divided during election season

But love trumps politics in split-party household

Married couple Craig Rivers and Cassy show off their political alliances in front of their Waukesha home. The left side of the yard is filled with Obama/Biden political posters and the left side of the yard is filled with Romney/Ryan posters.

Married couple Craig Rivers and Cassy show off their political alliances in front of their Waukesha home. The left side of the yard is filled with Obama/Biden political posters and the left side of the yard is filled with Romney/Ryan posters. Photo By Todd Ponath

Oct. 23, 2012

Craig and Cassy Rivers live in a homogeneous, middle-class neighborhood on the north side of Waukesha.

The Rivers' home, however, stands out. Not because of anything flashy or extravagant, but because of a subtle, yet bold statement that their dueling political signs make about their household.

"What I like about it is it's not something you see too often," Craig said.

Surrounded by American flags and pumpkins stands a Barack Obama/Joe Biden sign - on the left side. And on the right side stands a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan sign.

Craig is a proud Democrat. Cassy is an equally proud and avid Republican.

"In a million years, I never thought I would be married to a Democrat," Cassy said. "Never."

Neither did the people who knew her best.

"When we started dating I would just tell my friends and family about him and their first comment was 'I can't believe you're dating a Democrat,' " Cassy said.

But the couple married two years ago and as they experience their first Presidential Election as husband and wife, their political allegiances are coming out.

Starting a trend

It started with the signs.

"When we got married we said no signs, but I said if you put one up I'll put one out," Craig said.

Craig, in the Republican-dominated neighborhood where Romney/Ryan signs are the norm, appeared to be the minority - at first.

"I did notice when I put this one out, the neighbor across the street and the guy up the block put one out as well," Craig said. "I've never seen that before."

He said, regardless of the party, he gets along with the neighbors fine.

"To me, that is what's so great about America," Craig said on showing off your political allegiance while it maintaining civil.

But when asked about the political nature of the neighborhood, Craig said with a laugh, "They stay away from me because I'm aDemocrat."

Cassy said, "Oh, we could talk for hours."

Showing their colors

On this day, it's not hard to see what party each supports. Craig is wearing his blue Democrat shirt, while Cassy picks out, among the many John McCain/Sarah Palin and George W. Bush shirts in her closet, a Romney/Ryan T-shirt over her red undershirt.

Politics aren't normal dinner time conversation for them and their family, but with election season in full gear it's inevitable that spir ited political conversations spew over into their household.

"We (talk politics) during the election time, just because it's at the forefront now," Craig said.

"But it usually ends in a minute," Cassy replied back. "Because I'll ask you a question, then you'll ask me a question and then you're not answering my question and then we start getting mad and then I leave the room."

Craig open for discussion

Now, it's not as heated as Madison, but like the State Capitol, the two don't agree on much when it comes to politics.

Craig said while his vote is for Obama next month, he is the more moderate of the two and looks for bi-partisanship on issues.

He leans heavily on the Democratic side when it comes to the party's economic policy but explained when it comes to social issues, such as gay marriage, he doesn't always agree with the liberals' philosophy.

He has crossed party lines on occasion.

Cassy not so much

Would Cassy ever think about doing such a thing? You don't need to listen long to know that answer, as Cassy is much more concrete. She even recited a list as to why Obama needs to get out of office.

And she feels so strongly about her vote that she has tried to persuade Craig on a couple occasions. Her latest attempt has been to try to get him to see the new documentary, "Obama 2016," a movie that was made by a conservative author.

"I think that would sway him, but he won't go," Cassy said. "I still have time to flip you."

Daughters not taking sides

That probably won't happen, but Cassy said she still has her twin daughters, Abbey and Annie, to work on.

Craig and Cassy said the 16-year-old Waukesha North juniors stay out of their parents' political banter, but Cassy said when they are eligible to vote she is confident they will side with her and the GOP.

"Oh, they would be Republican for sure," Cassy said confidently.

"Oh that's not true," Craig quickly fired back. "If you ask Abbey, she'd say she's neither. She doesn't like either."

But Cassy said she worries about them when they go off to college.

"Annie is looking at going to (UW) Madison and my fear is that she gets skewed and gobbled up by the liberals," Cassy said.

Craig - Abbey and Annie's stepdad - chimed in, "See, Republicans just want to make clones. They don't want anyone to think for themselves."

However, Craig did say he sees benefits for the twins living in a split household.

"It think it is good," Craig said. "I believe that it allows you to explore issues and make your own mind up where you're not just hearing one side."

Families are opposite

For them it wasn't that way. They both grew up in a family that was for one party.

In fact, Cassy said her family voted Democrat and her parents actually helped run the Democratic Party in West Allis but switched to the Republican side and never looked back.

"My mom said back then those Democrats are today's Republicans and I truly believe that," Cassy said. "They made a huge turnaround. I just always have been brought up that way."

The couple met through their job and it didn't take long before their allegiances were revealed. It proved not to be a deal breaker.

"For me, my attraction and love (to her) is unconditional, and just because we don't always agree, you don't think anything less of the person," Craig said. "It goes back to the uniqueness of this country."

Cassy's parents now live about a mile from them in the Republican-rich area.

Politics are mostly off topic during holidays and birthdays.

"We just try to avoid it," Cassy admitted. "We really don't want to go there."

But if it gets brought up, Craig said, "We're respectful about it and we agree to disagree."

Emotions will run high

They'll disagree come Nov. 6. Actually, the two will cast their ballots early as both said they will vote absentee. And because of overnight jobs, they won't get to watch the election results come in on TV together. But when they come home and see each other, a winner will have been crowned.

"If her party wins she'll gloat," Craig said. "If mine wins, I won't say anything."

"Oh, right," Cassy sarcastically replied.

However, if Romney loses, Craig said, "She'll be upset." Cassy agreed. "I definitely will be."

And if Obama loses, Craig said he might be upset for a little while but acknowledged that "there's life beyond politics and in four years we'll have another kick at the cat."


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