Monday, February 2, 2009


Massachusetts is generally viewed as a blue state among blue states. Taxes are high, gay marriage is legal, and wool-knit sweaters abound. However, my associate and I were in for an odd juxtaposition as we drove up to our relatives' house in rural Massachusetts. There were still wool-knit sweaters - alpaca wool, as the colder climate provided them the ideal setting to start an alpaca farm. But as we quickly found out, locals here despised taxes, secular values, and "big government". As we awoke Friday morning, a group of locals had assembled to haul alpaca-related materials to a nearby farm. My relative gleefully pointed out that I had just seen the inauguration, initiating a round of mockery at my expense. "How was the messiah?" I didn't dignify their pseudo-clever remarks with an answer.

My associate and I went into town mid-day for food. The town was quaint and brimming with new england charm, and there was a Quizno's right on the town square. We went in, and it turned out the store was linked to an all-purpose video rental/pharmacy/sports supply store. The staff was friendly, and they were nice enough not to ask us about our political views.

We spent the afternoon reading and catching up with our family, then in the evening we drove to a slightly larger town and ate at a nice restaurant. It was a pleasant meal, although it was a bit bittersweet since it would be the last dinner my associate would have before leaving for home. I was to stay for a few more days on the east coast visiting friends and relatives.

In rural Massachusetts, an area perhaps as conservative as the Southern towns we visited earlier, I recognized the same mood as I had in liberal California four years earlier: conspicuous indifference. Two years ago, these people were dismayed by the political ascendancy of their antithesis: a black man, a practitioner of big city politics, a socialist who pals around with terrorists. They had spent the previous year cultivating their hatred of this man, and now he's their president. Democracy can be difficult. On the days following the inauguration, after two months getting used to the idea of Obama as president, many had discovered the best coping mechanism was absorption in their daily routine. In the bluer parts of the country, we learned that lesson on January 20, 2005.

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