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July 24, 2012 8:16 am

CULTURE SHOCK: What’s left of liberalism?

Written by Dante Geoffrey

An open letter to Californians who think they know, from someone who’s been there

Talking politics might be my least favorite pastime. Nothing could be a bigger waste or drain on my day.

I know people should be involved and engaged in politics — that’s the blueprint of this country, right? — but discussions about politics, religion and philosophy often lead to anger and frustration rather than changed minds or mutual understanding.

First off, nobody ever knows what they’re talking about. People are raised leaning one way or another, so throughout the rest of their lives, they will side with their party without wasting many precious minutes thinking for themselves.

Everybody’s political knowledge is based loosely on what someone, not necessarily smarter but certainly louder, has said on TV, radio and the Internet (but never based on facts printed in newspapers, it seems).

So, any time somebody approaches me and begins to parrot what one of the Bills (O’Reilly or Maher) said last night, I look for an escape route.

“How do I get out of this? Should I tell this person to just shut up or would it be more polite to just walk out of the room without an explanation? If I point behind them and scream ‘Look!’, will that give me enough time to leave?”

So, if you want to leave the room midway through this column, I totally understand.

I mean, who from Powell wants to listen to some Californian’s opinions on prejudice and liberalism?

As you already know (and likely rue), California is a state bluer than the ocean that crashes against the Malibu mansions of far-left-leaning movie stars.

Being “left” or “right” can mean pretty much anything you want nowadays, but I think one of the general tenets of “liberalism” is full acceptance of all cultures, creeds, lifestyles, etc.

Only to a point, of course. And only in theory, as I’ve learned.

Many (not all) of my friends would identify themselves as “liberal.”

Many (not all) of my friends have said or asked some pretty un-liberal things regarding my sudden exodus to Wyoming — perhaps the reddest state in America.

In the 2008 presidential election, Republican candidate John McCain won 65 percent of Wyoming’s votes — the largest percentage he won of any state.

So yeah, my friends are right to assume I moved — geographically speaking — from one political extreme to the other.

But the other assumptions are less than welcome, and rather disappointing.

Let me clear some things up for any pseudo-liberal, closed-minded progressives on the West Coast.

I do not live in a trailer park. I do not live in a barren wasteland. I do not live near a bunch of racist rednecks.

I live next to a black dude my age who goes to college. I work with people who dress like people in California dress. I hang out with people who have the same interests as I do. Which means I hang out with people who have the same interests as some of you.

I know the very idea of being similar to someone from Wyoming might fly in the face of everything you thought you knew but never actually bothered to find out.

“What?! I share common interests with someone from a square state?! My life has no meaning!”

Why am I getting so defensive about this? Not just because I now live in Wyoming. This isn’t a defense of only the state I now call home. It’s a vindication of myself.

I was guilty of the same prejudice and stereotyping that I’m now witnessing from my friends and family.

Before I moved here I was afraid. I made jokes — mostly bad ones. I just didn’t know what was here, and I think I did what I could to place myself “above” Wyoming.

That fear of the unknown might be the single most motivating force in human nature.

It’s driven people to violence, depression, religion, success and failure.

And it causes people to say stupid things about other places and people they know nothing about.

Thankfully, ignorance is the easiest thing in the world to remedy. Be informed when you’re able, and be honest when you’re not.

Understand what your liberal label means, and what views you’re expressing to the world.

That would be genuinely liberating.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link July 24, 2012 10:02 am posted by Stereotypes are true

    Q: What do tornadoes and graduates from the University of Wyoming have in common?

    A: They both end up in trailer parks.

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