Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rethinking my political geography

I was lamenting my lack of blog-worthy thoughts this morning when I read a book review in October 23 issue of New York Magazine that made my head spin. (Forgive my lack of a link here - I'm still working out my Mac/Blogger issues).

The book in question is Andrew Sullivan's "The Conservative Soul." Not typically something I'd look at, but the author picture featured a man in a beard and plaid flannel, and the incongruity grabbed my attention. The book sounds somewhat interesting; Sullivan apparently makes a living trying to reconcile his multi-faceted life (Irish Catholic, gay, Generation X) in print. I do much the same thing (although I'm quite heterosexual, even when wearing plaid) so I can appreciate the effort involved when your faith and your life seem to point in two different directions.

But what made this article blog-worthy had nothing at all to do with Sullivan himself. What got me was a pithy comment tossed off by the reviewer, who says:

"A name comes to mind for the conservative Utopia Sullivan would like to see built. It's called Massachusetts, though actually the Netherlands would serve just as well."

Apparently, I live on the east coast of conservative Utopia!
Who knew???

Now I've heard Massachusetts called many things in my lifetime - heaven knows we leave the door wide open with our tax structure, the Big Dig, and the 1700 times the Red Sox have blown sure-win situations and gone home before the World Series. But I've never heard ANY part of this state - even downtown in Boston's financial district - called a conservative Utopia. I'm not even sure what the reviewer means by this comment (he clarifies his point by saying, "both places have fetishized their history while making themselves open to any sort of liberalism but in reality supporting the most bourgeois societies imaginable") but it makes me feel, at the very least, like my state is suddenly a much more interesting place to live. What does this mean, I wonder? Are we destined to become the new destination hotspot for conservative politicos who secretly adore JFK? Will Rush Limbaugh buy a home here and enroll in comparative religion classes at the Harvard Extension School?

I'm headed out to run errands now. I'll have to look around more carefully, just to see what conservative Utopia looks like :)


Kim Stagliano said...

Massachusetts takes a LOT of grief for being liberal - yet often has a Republican governor, always has top schools in the country, a growth economy that is the envy of the rust belt, and boasts one of the LOWEST divorce rates in the nation! The bible belt, where Massachusetts is consider "Sodom" or is that "Gomorrah" has the highest divorce rates. NYAH NYAH YALL!

KIM :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Trish -- This is a post from National Review that my husband posted:

Andrew Sullivan Should Teach
[David French 10/26 04:53 PM]

I spent most of my lunch hour listening to Hugh Hewitt’s interview of Andrew Sullivan, and I immediately thought that Andrew had missed his calling. He should be teaching at a university. He can still blog and write, but the university is his true home. As I listened to Hugh and Andrew, I was struck by Andrew’s style of argument. For those who don’t know, Andrew has a new book arguing that conservatism is betrayed by religious conservatives like me. True conservatism, to Sullivan, is a conservatism of doubt. It is my (perceived) moral certainty that makes me suspect, while Sullivan believes that truth is so very difficult to discern.

But not with respect to same-sex marriage. Or torture. Or habeas corpus. Or about the Bush administration’s conduct of a hard-fought war. Now, I don’t think it is out of bounds for Sullivan to have strong opinions about those things, but to turn around and attack folks like me as “Christianist” when we disagree is a bit, well, academic. Throughout the interview, I was having flashbacks to the odd form of argument that dominated so many exchanges at law school and again when I taught. On the one hand, professors and students would speak with absolute certainty and complete conviction about issues of race, gender, war, peace, sexuality, and economics, and then condescendingly sneer at my “moralistic and “simplistic” “black and white” responses. When I would contrast this embrace of relativism with the certainty of their previously expressed convictions, the response was something like, “but how could anyone of good will deny [fill in the blank]?” And so it would go, round and round, with one side enjoying both the benefits of certainty and the condescension that comes from their imaginary dedication to complexity and moral doubt.

LEstes65 said...

Who knew that I fled the housing prices in a closeted "conservative utopia" to come to a closeted liberal utopia land locked within the biggest conservative-with-mandatory-gun-racks state? Go figure.

As always, you make me laugh and think. Not necessarily in that order.

Anonymous said...

Hey Trish, this is a post from me cuz. My boyfriend doesn't have to write them for me. I'm thinking of getting a blog, do you think I should include my 8th grade photo from the GLamour SHots at the mall of America?