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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Why I often feel like a moderate.

I am not at all surprised, but it turns out I grew up in the 237th most liberal city in the United States [doc] — which is to say, in the most conservative city in the U.S. with more than 100,000 inhabitants. (Actually, I grew up in Provo's smaller urban Siamese twin, Orem — but there are no political or cultural differences between them. Orem may even be more conservative than Provo.)

And now I live in Cambridge, the 8th most liberal city in the U.S. I've been here almost ten years, but you'd think I'd still be experiencing whip-lash from a transition so comprehensive. Instead, I simply feel some sympathy for the attitudes and perspectives of both sides. Mind you, the conservatives are wrong, and it's easier to feel sympathy for them at a distance, but they're not alien to me. I also don't actually travel in lefty circles in Cambridge. In other words, my years as a liberal Utahn prepared me for a happy life of Massachusetts moderatism. (Hey, is anyone surprised that the Bay Area Center for Voting Research discovered that the Bay Area is the most liberal region in the country? Via Kevin Drum.)

Meanwhile, I've been thinking it would be really cool to find a geographer or really geeky map-and-statistics person who could superimpose the locations of each U.S. Unitarian Universalist congregation on a county-level electoral map from the 2004 election. Wouldn't you love to know how many UU congregations are in blue counties, purple counties, and red ones? Care to guess?

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 14 August 2005 at 2:36 PM

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Bill Baar:

August 17, 2005 05:20 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm guessing you'd find more vibrant UU congregations in blue counties. I say vibrant becasue I think you'll find many in New England and the east but not sure how active they are.

UU's tend to grow up in Church going areas and react against something. Hence you find the vibrant ones in places with a church experience to react against.

Ron Robinson:

August 18, 2005 08:26 PM | Permalink for this comment

Being in a "red" county and "red" state has always been something of a drawing card growth-wise for the UU churches in the Tulsa OK area which used to boast of the highest per-capita UU population in the country; I am not sure if that still stands but its certainly got to be up there. Though moving to more of a blue precinct in the red county has been something of a help for us at Epiphany, from where we were in the reddest part of the red county. So I am not sure even a county by county breakdown gets to the best statistics.
The conversation reminds me of the wonderful (I thought, but I was on the panel) discussion this past UUA GA at the "Blue State Church in a Red State Nation" or something like that forum sponsored by the UU Conservative Forum. I have been meaning to get a copy of the tape that was made to see if it was as good later as it seemed at the time; good issues probed. I think it would have been even better with one other person who might be more representative of the political leanings of UUs even in this red state, i.e. someone more to my left, to present something more of the angst with the surrounding political culture, because most of us were presenting more of the angst with the political culture of the UUA than of our surrounding communities. We had a Michigan Republican, an Oklahoma-born but now in Indiana libertarian, and me an Okie "Joe Lieberman-esque" Democrat.

Andy McIntire:

August 23, 2005 04:07 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'll plead guilty to being a "geeky map person", though I'll leave the statistics for somebody else. I have put together a map of the lower-48 showing locations of UUA congregations over a red/purple/blue map of the 2004 presidential election results by county (see my web page). A general visual inspection does show a general trend for UUA congregations to be in the bluer counties, but it is by no means absolute. I would be interested in hearing comments from somebody with more knowledge of the 1000+ congregations represented.

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