OK, your responses to whether blue dots in red states would find a better life elsewhere amazed me. For one thing, I hope you folks will keep sending us news and pictures (also through Facebook) from where you live -- that helps us develop stories. Meanwhile, it's fun watching you get to know each other. With your help, I can try to keep the blue dots thing going. Consider this blog a front porch. (And if anyone finds a response from a red dot in a blue sea, I would love to include them in our conversation.)
A few of your comments about life as a blue dot, starting with our sizeable Idaho contingent (picture above of Democrat Gulch, from Alison Smart in Hailey):
While I have plenty of Republican family and friends, they don't seem to be as radical - maybe they are moderated by living with all of the "blue dots" in the Treasure Valley.No matter the politics, I love Idaho. Especially, the beautiful outdoors. Things would have to get really bad for me to want to leave. And even then, I think it is important to have a progressive voice in the reddest of states.
What I wouldn't give to be blue dot in Boise! I live in the red-ist part of the state, Southern Idaho. I do think of leaving, often. My feeling has be eased lately by the discovery of a few fellow blue dots in my peer group. My co-workers know that I am not one to talk politics (or nutrition/food or organic farming) with. It can make work days long... It's nice when I travel up to Boise to go to the co-op once a month, to see more Obama '12 bumper stickers that match mine! I think I've seen one other here in Twin Falls.
I'm 45 and have lived in Idaho my entire life. Being blue in a red state can be frustrating but it can also be rewarding. Engaging with friends and families and trying to create seeds of doubt in their Fox News/talk radio world view by exposing them to pesky facts they are unaware of. I'm a saboteur behind enemy territory.
I just moved back to blue Illinois from red Indiana. It is a feeling of relief. I hope to not be constantly punished socially and economically for my values. In Indiana, racist, sexist, homophobic comments are the norm in the workplace. (I work in higher education.) But my progressive point of view is offensive. In Illinois, those intolerant comments are not socially acceptable. People may hold them, but they are not fit for public conversation. Even though Indiana and Illinois are side-by-side, Indiana has much lower education rate, and is pretty typical of red states. It is harder to make friends, fit into the workplace, and find community when you are a blue dot.
As a young progressive living deep down in a Georgia small-town, I can say without hesitation that I love the South. I am absolutely in the political minority in my area--as a matter of fact, the Republican Party of my county erected a billboard on the interstate that implied our President is a Stalinist Communist. What outsiders tend to forget, however, is that people are more than their political beliefs.
The South is a beautiful place populated by a beautiful people. The culture of community and brotherhood in this part of the country is unlike anywhere else I have lived before, and I have seen time and time again how willing Southerners are to go out of their way to help strangers and neighbors alike. The famed "Southern Hospitality" isn't a romanticized element of a forgotten past--it is the living legacy of a people who feel spiritually connected to those around them.
Do I disagree with my friends and neighbors regularly? Absolutely. But if anything, I find it to be a stimulating exchange. Being constantly surrounded by people who confirm what you already believe in inhibits growth and encourages stagnation of thought. By talking about politics with those who disagree, I am able to gain a deeper understanding of my own beliefs and a broader perspective of opposing viewpoints.
I don't consider myself a "blue dot in a red state." I consider myself an American in the company of Americans.
There is no "them;" there is only "us." And the people of the South--though I so frequently disagree with them politically--are in my experience caring, kind, and deserving of consideration beyond stereotypes.
I grew up in and went to Undergrad in California. Now I'm in Atlanta. Atlanta is a very blue blue dot, if voting records are anything to go by. However, the people I talked to when I first got here were not the kind of liberals I am used to. The thing that bothered me most is that they had a much more limited scope of what liberal ideals are practically achievable; this probably comes from dealing with the ubber-scary conservative Georgia state government, where, for example, some people like to compare women to farm animals. My life improved significantly, after I joined a UU church. My advice to blue dots is to get involved with an organization, like the Unitarian Church, that is actively involved in fighting for liberal ideals. It's much easier to deal with the conservative dominance in public policy, now that I know people involved in trying to make it better and when I have time to participate myself, it's really rewarding!