Thus far I’ve left Sydney to make the political posts, since I have felt I’m getting my fill from what are rather lengthy discussions with him at home and all the media I’ve been able to get my hands on. I’m a moderate of long standing, back when it was okay to be a moderate (even at way-liberal Yale) and even now that extremism is “in”. (Un)fortunately that means I have a lot of work to do before the election is actually here: weighing, watching, reading, assessing. But I share much of Sydney’s frustration with the level of political discourse I’ve been hearing recently.

There has been far too much “discussion” along the following lines: 1) We are all academics 2) We must all be very intelligent 3) Intelligent people all vote the for the best candidate 4) Candidate X is obviously best 5) Thus we are all voting for X. I can follow that much (even if I don’t think it’s a great argument), but I can’t say I can see my way to understanding the further conclusion that 6) The other party being comprised of idiots, we can now proceed to trash them in this room full of kindred spirits. Idiots is putting it mildly: horrible, evil, degrading, soul-sucking idiots is more like it. This from many who would normally be hesitant to assert that we have souls. Each day I come home without opening my mouth in these discussions is one more day that I surprise myself . . .

I live in liberal New York. Not just New York, but very-liberal Ithaca. Add to that that I live in an academic community and the liberalness is almost without exception. Obama is the man here. My problem with that is that, though my home state isn’t perfect in many respects, the fact that Iowa is split politically makes it much less likely that one there would presume to know your political opinion and then start trashing the other side.  The political discussion may be a bit too wary to get into the meat of the matter at times (I’ve been having very, very careful political discussions with family and friends from home), but it’s a heck of a lot better than the wink-wink, nod-nod presumption I’m getting around here.  Being from a rural state can indeed have its advantages.


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