Lately, I’ve been thinking about when I might sell my house and either move into a condo or a one-floor plan house. I like working in my yard, vegetable and flower gardens and would miss that in a condo. The community where I live is not wealthy. Knowing the occupations of many living here, there are individuals I believe could live elsewhere in a more upscale community but they choose to stay here. Homes in my subdivision are probably pretty modestly priced compared to many areas of the country. And, they sell faster than in other communities. This subdivision was built in the mid-60s. Many of the same individuals live here who originally bought, but they are getting older now. The guy behind me has moved into a nursing home. There are some young families who have moved into the community. I downsized here in 2002. It was kind of nice moving here after living on more land in a bigger house on a busy street where interaction with your neighbors was difficult. This seemed to be a utopia and most times it is. The subdivision is called Hills & Dales which describes it. People here talked to you. They waved or stopped when going by if you were out. At Halloween, everyone sits outside and talks with the kids and their parents. During Christmas there are Carolers. People stop to rave about your flowers. I once told a lady at Home Depot about this neighborhood and she actually remembered a television commercial that portrayed a community just like it. I forget the one she told me.
During elections, though, this community is different. Thankfully general elections only come every four years. You can tell when the yard signs go up. Things change. Conversation is more stressed. I now get glares having an Obama sticker in the back window of my vehicle along with a MoveOn “Bush’s Third Term–McCain” sticker. Thought this year I’d wait until after the convention to put up my yard signs. I don’t know how many Independents live here, but, I see a few Democrat yard signs during elections. For the most part, though, this is a nice, neat, well-kept lawns, Christian, Conservative, Republican neighborhood. You know the stereotype. I like neat, well-kept lawns.
I got to thinking about the Hills and Dales Subdivision when I read a piece in the Washington Post called “Political Perils of a ‘Big Sort’?” by Robert J. Samuelson. He talks about studies showing how we are becoming people who like to be with people like ourselves.
“People prefer to be with people like themselves. For all the celebration of “diversity,” it’s sameness that dominates. Most people favor friendships with those who have similar backgrounds, interests and values. It makes for more shared experiences, easier conversations and more comfortable silences. Despite many exceptions, the urge is nearly universal. It’s human nature.”
“The latest manifestation of this is what Bill Bishop calls “the Big Sort.” (Samuelson refers to Bishop as a “recovering newspaper columnist”) By that, he means that Americans have increasingly “clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs, and, in the end, politics.” Republican fundamentalists congregate with other Republican fundamentalists. Liberal Democrats herd with other liberal Democrats. Environmentalists decamp to Portland, Ore. Child-centered Republican families move to the exurbs of Dallas and Minneapolis.”
Bishop, in collaboration with Robert Cushing, examined voting patterns in elections noting differences in neighborhoods and counties. When Bishop and his wife moved to Austin, TX, “they instinctively selected a neighborhood called Travis Heights” where people were highly liberal like them. While Texans voted 60% for Bush statewide in 2000, in Travis Heights Bush came in third behind Gore and Nader [Go Travis Heights]. They say there are not red/blue states but red/blue counties (and communities). [I bet the Obama team knows every red/blue county in the country.]
I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m one of those people who prefers “sameness” and like-minded communities. I am a single woman. I would like to meet someone to share my life, not necessarily marriage, but just someone for activities and having fun. I know without a doubt, though, that I could never enter into a Matlin/Carver-type relationship. I’ve tried to meet nice, intelligent single men, but living in Central Ohio I have just about concluded that there is no one I’ve met to date with whom I share common beliefs. I know there is no perfect relationship, but…. Friends says “K” just give some of these guys a chance. You’re too picky. Well…The last guy I met from a singles site when he wrote me was a page out of Faux News talking points. We met at a Bob Evans restaurant for breakfast one Saturday morning. I thought I’d just sit and allow him to talk. He did. He talked and he talked about how these pro-abortionists were sticking sharp pointed objects into these little fetus’ skulls. He proclaimed the greatness of W and Cheney. He said “I take my Bible to church; I bet you don’t do that”. He raved about his money, his home and his shiny new red big cab pickup truck. But, I did not say much. Just thought about how soon I could get out of that restaurant and hoped anyone I knew did not come in.
As to Bishop’s argument of residential segregation of like-minded people, which Samuelson seems to think is over-stated, a Pew Research Center says there has not been a big significant change with regard to social ideas such as abortion, wars, and gay marriage. More interesting, though, is that people have changed culturally with a higher percentage of people agreeing “not to fire teachers who are known homosexuals” and that it is okay for “blacks and whites to date each other”. At least there is little improvement in our open-mindedness.
As for the blind date, we finally walked outside the restaurant. He asked “So, what do you think?” I was not unkind, but said “I think I need to meet a nice tall Liberal”. (I’m 5’5” and he was about my height. Not to sound shallow and that being shorter is a detriment, but I’ve always dated men much taller and maybe I wanted to get my digs in for what I had been through.) Also, I said “I don’t go to church that often, but when I go I leave my Bible at home and take my heart with me”. Just didn’t like some of the things he had said about people. When I got home I had an email that said “I don’t think we have much in common”.
When I decide to sell my house I’ve deviously thought about trying to get some political segregation into the neighborhood, although it would probably be unlawful unless I knew someone who wanted to buy here. Also, there are many known liberal-leaning neighborhoods inside the I-270 beltway (I’m outside). You just know where they are. Maybe I’ll try to find a house in one of those communities so I can have more in common with the neighborhood; we can share our political strategies as well as common ideals. Who knows, maybe I’d meet a good liberal-thinking man! After all, I choose some blogs that are usually in sync with my thoughts.
The Robert J. Samuelson (Bill Bishop) piece is good and I think interesting.