Mel’s Monday Musings: March 4, 2019

I just learned that my still-feels-new town is one of the least politically divisive places in America — not that it’s not full of staunch Republicans and Democrats, because of course it is! but these party lines tend to not become interpersonal stonewalls. Partisanship doesn’t regulate friendship very often here. (Most people keep their politics and their religion or non-religion or whatever else to themselves and are just plain friendly to everyone, or at least that’s been my experience so far.)

I have mixed feelings about whether that’s ultimately a good thing, but the result sure is peaceable. You really can’t afford to alienate your friends and neighbors in a small town, anyway. The pro-Trump guy on your left might be the one who mows your lawn when you’re ill. Your mail carrier might be the most liberal person you’ve ever known. No matter where you fall, they’ll be there for you because people here know how to put politics aside in favor of friendship and community. I love that.

I don’t worry much here about whether my kids will say something too liberal in class and piss off their teacher, or whether inadvertently learning I’m Pagan will affect the doctor’s treatment of my child. It just doesn’t matter to most people, or if it does, they don’t let it affect how they treat others.

I was always uncomfortable as the token liberal/non-Christian in the group, whatever group I was ever in, in Texas. I didn’t dare put up signs for political candidates (not that that’s my style anyway) and I was honestly worried that people would treat my children differently if they knew who I was spiritually or politically…nobody should have to feel like that! But I did, for 7 1/2 years.

Even in my home state of North Carolina, which didn’t rank as particularly prejudiced in the study I saw, people are deeply and often bitterly divided over politics. I love NC with all my heart and I always will, but that same heart aches so much over the climate vs. how it could be now that I’m living the alternative.

How is it where you live? How well does your experience match up with the data?