READER MAIL: THIS JUST IN, BARLOW STILL LIBERAL! Ted Barlow writes, “I’m still a liberal; I said yes to about 3 1/3 of the points, but I’d throw in a couple of more points to tip me over the balance. I

care about preserving progressive taxation, the environment, and gay rights, for example. I get upset at attempts to cut the NEA, and oppose the death penalty. I usually can’t read Jonah Goldberg (for example) without wanting to scream. The conservative umbrella is pretty big, but it ain’t that big.

“But I think you have an excellent point about the way that political labels are a significant part of social identity, more so than policy

positions in most cases. I know it’s true for me; I try to keep an open mind, more or less, but I definitely feel that my social identity is more in line with the overall liberal vibe than the conservative one. And I’m a political junkie; the vast majority of people don’t think about politics too much. If you live in New York, you’re going to be exposed to liberal positions more often from people that you’re comfortable with; if you’re in Texas, the opposite is true. For just that reason, I think that Glenn Reynolds is exactly right in his wish that conservatives make an effort to act less like the preacher in Footlose.

“Ted

“P.S. I almost forgot: here’s an entry for the what makes America distinctive. The first winter that I lived in London, my fiancee went home for Christmas a few weeks earlier than I did, and I was feeling awfully lost and lonely. One night, I went to the movie theater to see David Lynch’s ‘The Straight Story’ by myself. If you’ve never seen it, it’s the true story of an old man who rode his tractor from Iowa to Wisconsin to reconcile with his brother. There are many lyrical scenes of Richard Farnsworth riding through idyllic Midwestern landscapes, but I actually choked back a tear when he rode past a family on the road, waved, and they waved back. I had frequently had that experience on the AIDS Ride the previous year, and I wanted to stand up and yell, ‘They really do that in America!’”

My comment: Whoa. They don’t do that in other countries? For serious? Can anybody give me the scoop on that?

About Eve Tushnet

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