Red and Blue America

The Washington Post is doing a terrific series on on just how far apart liberal and conservative America are:

In or a Conservative, Life Is Sweet in Sugar Land, Tex., you can read about life as it is from the perspective of the Stein family.

In A Liberal Life In the City By the Bay you can read about the Harrisons.

To most out here, both seem caricatures. Oliver Willis thinks The Onion couldn’t produce better satire. But ya know what – I know people just like both families.

They exist. Listen to what both families have say.

As Dave Rogers says: “there is no “them,” there’s only “us.””.

The Ugliness Of Polarization On Display

Soldier comes home. She has a baby to take care of. She goes homeless. NYTimes posts a story about it. It’s missing plenty of details. Nevertheless, the folks at Metafilter go to war with each other over it.

The Net maybe one of the causes of our current political self-segregation. Maybe it is. But it is also a great tool to observe it from 20,000 feet. Try it sometime. Listen. You may hear yourself. And you may wonder, what the hell am I doing about what’s going on, other then arguing about it.

BTW, MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country is a pretty good book.

“Bush is running on fear; Kerry can win by running on hope”

That quote says it all. Here is an observation of mine you can take to the bank: “If two candidates are using entirely negative campaigning, the more entrenched candidate will win.” Remember Clinton? Remember how hard the Republicans tried to bring him down? Even with far better reasons, the same tactics will bring the same results against Bush.

A message for Kerry: The way to win is by appealing to all Americans that we are better then this. That we can beat the terrorists. That there are no good reasons for America to have lost the trust of the rest of the world. That fear does not need to rule the day. That together we will win. Divided we will fall. The politics of division serve only those currently power. It is a message that deep down inside, all of us know. Bush used this message against Gore. He will attempt to claim this ground against you. Have your supporters tear down the other candidate (watch the Bush support team and Bush himself and note the differences in their tactics) while you rise above the fray and show optimism and faith in our people (as Bush attempts to do – however poorly – I know you can do better). Explain how you know things are bad, that things can get better, and show us the way.

The politics of division end up supporting the most powerful existing entities. That’s just the way it is. Have faith in the people and we will express our faith in you at the ballot box.

BTW – the quote comes from Arianna Huffington’s weblog.

If the fires of freedom…

Another quote I’d like to pass along, from a President who led during another time of war:

If the fires of freedom and civil liberties burn low in other lands, they must be made brighter in our own. If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free. If in other lands the eternal truths of the past are threatened by intolerance we must provide a safe place for their perpetuation.

– President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Chris Rock on Liberals And Conservatives

Did you see Chris Rock’s latest? While it’s just about impossible to match his previous comedy special back from 1996, he comes very, very close. A quote I’d like to share with you:

The whole country’s got a fucked up mentality. We all got a gang mentality. Republicans are fucking idiots. Democrats are fucking idiots. Conservatives are idiots and liberals are idiots.

Anyone who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fucking fool. Everybody, nah, nah, nah, everybody is so busy wanting to be down with a gang! I’m a conservative! I’m a liberal! I’m a conservative! It’s bullshit!

Be a fucking person. Listen. Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion.

No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?! I got some shit I’m conservative about, I got some shit I’m liberal about. Crime – I’m conservative. Prostitution – I’m liberal.

You may be too politically correct to listen to the wisdom in this. Or you may care more about the group you have associated yourself with then to admit that most people are not either-or. More then likely you have bought what they are selling to you – that in your group, you belong. And that everyone outside of your group is “the enemy”.

I am not just a Democrat….

I am an American!

The reasons why Bush must go have nothing to do with conservatism (which he does not practice) or being a Republican (which many Republicans will refute). It has everything to do with him not serving the best interests of the people of the United States of America – or the world.

I realize that Chris Rock used the phrase “I’m an American” as part of a riff on the specter of racism. I’m using the phrase in the way I feel it is ment – not as an exclusionary term – but as an inclusionary one.

Garret gets it right, as he typically does, by asking the not so obvious question – what if Watergate happened today? Nothing. Nothing at all. As Chris Rock would say, we’re too busy paying attention to Paris Hilton.

More On Williamsburg

Upon arriving in Williamsburg, we visited to Visitor?s Center to get our bearings and to purchase two Freedom Passes. A Freedom Pass provides admission to the tours, museums, and buses for a year. At just under $60 a piece, they were a great deal. Before leaving, we saw the movie “The Story of a Patriot”. While very old it gave us a great feel for the conflict some felt over the decision to revolt against England.

For the first of our two trips into town, we took the bus to the Capitol, on the far end of Duke of Gloucester Street. First we took a tour of Bassett Hall, former residence of the Rockerfellers. The Rockerfeller family played a huge role in getting Williamsburg restored, and they donated their home in the 1980s to the town. This stop was mostly for Richelle, I gotta admit, but I was surprised at how intimate the place felt. Comfy. The tour guide made sure to tell us how this was the Rockerfellers favorite house. Here they could be like normal folk. Talking to neighbors and walking to church.

Next stop was the gunsmith where there were craftsmen making weaponry as they would two hundred years ago.

A short walk from there was the Capitol. The building?s architecture was specifically designed to accommodate the Royal (the Governor?s Council), and the people?s (the House of Burgesses) branches of government, with a meeting area, between them. When that relationship broke down, when Boston was being threatened, it is here that Patrick Henry (“give me liberty or give me death”), Thomas Jefferson, and others were moved to encourage all to the fight. Did you know that if you were a Catholic, or a Jew, a Black or Woman, you couldn?t serve in the House of Burgesses? In fact, you had to be a White, Protestant, land owner.

Our last historic stop of the day was the Public Gaol – the jail. We learned how jailers lived and had a chance to see a few cells.

For a late lunch we hit Shields tavern. For under $50 we had a very romantic, and filling lunch. The pot roast was great. I mean great!

We finished off our day seeing the Fife and Drums team do a demonstration and then a march down The Palace Green. A big highlight for me. They were powerful. As they marched, I couldn?t help but feel a strange sense of history as everyone in attendance instinctively followed behind them.

More tomorrow…

I’m Back From Vacation

I surprised Richelle with a week’s vacation to Colonial Williamsburg for her 30th birthday. We haven?t taken a week vacation since our honeymoon, five years ago, and we were due for some time away from it all. Williamsburg fit the bill. I don’t think it could have turned out nicer.

The historic area was a short walk away from where we were staying, the Williamsburg Hospitality House. We had one of their standard rooms, and except for the lack of a high-speed data port, which was a good thing, it was just about perfect for its affordable price. The place had an old world feel to it, which lent itself to the experience. We had three days of bad weather, so the room was definitely “lived in” by the time we left. The Hospitality House did not let us down. We’ll probably be back next time.

I haven?t been to the historical sites in Philadelphia for a while (we’re planning to soon), but the time here made me jealous. The organization behind Colonial Williamsburg truly has built a living museum. No cars are permitted into historical area, which was the first thing that struck me, but upon walking onto its main thoroughfare, Duke of Gloucester Street, it made perfect sense. We saw visiting families sitting on benches, relaxing from their exploring, kids from various school groups goofing off or just hanging out, students from the College of William and Mary jogging or playing ball on the Palace Green, while others were waiting in line for a lunch at one its historical taverns. It was alive. A real public space. And I think that was partially due to the lack of cars.

Richelle came up with an excellent plan to divide up our exploration. There is a bus that runs on the outskirts of the historic area that we used to ride to the far ends of town, and then leisurely walked back towards our hotel, taking in various tours and sights. Leisurely is the word. How strange it was not to be bombarded with the sights and sounds of modern life! I think I had some kind of internet withdrawal at first, but then came to appreciate just how natural paced everything seemed to be. Even with the thousands of people that were there with us, on those same streets, it felt intimate and warm.

I’ll post more tomorrow….