Remember when one of our biggest arguments was over “paper or plastic” when we went grocery shopping? Turns out, we were all wrong. Now it’s canvas or bring your own recyclable bag. New mothers used to be torn over whether to breastfeed their babies or use infant formula from purified cow’s milk, vegetable oil or soy. Many people once viewed breastfeeding as “unnatural.”
Over time, some of the partisan choices or beliefs we once held have been solved for us. In the west county right now there are no more Analy Tigers or El Molino Lions because the two schools have consolidated and need a new mascot. (Wildcats sounds like a pretty good placeholder idea.) With the football Raiders now in Las Vegas, the partisan rivalry between the Raiders’ black and silver and the 49ers’ red and gold is not so fierce. Pepsi or Coke? Budweiser or Coors? Pour a microbrew or have a mocktail. Cheers all around.
Sadly, not all our partisan choices, factions and biases get solved for us. As we are seeing, our politics and the pandemic keep manufacturing new ones for us. Some are as silly as how we roll our toilet paper, but others are so extreme (masks and vaccines) that they promote death wishes.
Even as many of our old biases have become extinct, commentators today say we Americans have never been more divided or partisan — and never more bitter or angry. Every map we see of the USA seems to be color-coded with red and blue states. These map makers seem to want to keep us divided. If we live in a red state we obviously are anti-abortion and if we live in a blue state we are for expanded voters’ rights. What color state do we have to live in to be in favor of clean air and water or be opposed to foie gras? Should we kneel or stand for the Star Spangled Banner?
How partisan is Sonoma County? Aren’t we a place full of tolerance and welcomed diversity? Don’t we take pride in being both progressive in our ideas and entrepreneurship, but staunchly devoted to our family, farm and small town traditions?
Be careful. We don’t have to bring up COVID-19 vaccinations, horse dewormer, wearing masks or public health mandates to start an argument. Take bicycles and bicyclists for example. Some rural road residents spit from their eyes when they confront a small peloton of two-wheelers on “their” road. Their vintage of corked rage is exhibited by other neighbors when someone turns on a leaf blower in their neighborhood. We’ve all exhibited amazing coping skills during our wildfires and pandemic shutdown, but there are some in our midst who can’t handle a few minutes of high-pitched vegetation control.
Dogs are a problem for lots of people here, especially dogs in restaurants. Could there be a more partisan issue than either being a dog person or not? We don’t see very much hostility over dogs, but some dog owners need to learn that not everyone loves their dog as much as they do, especially at mealtime.
We think crying babies is too dangerous a topic to bring up right here, so we won’t. But we’ve noticed some local partisans would rather sit next to a crying baby than a table-full of tourists. We don’t share these biases. Almost all of our local tourists are as well mannered as our pet dogs. It’s true that too many tourists can show up in one place at the same time and cause a parking problem, but they do give us their money. (Tourists with dogs could be another issue, however.)
We humans and Americans always have been partisan, one way or the other. But our spreading partisanships are getting angrier and wackier. If you don’t agree, then the hell with you. (See, we told you so.)