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The Lonely Liberal - 08/19/2020

I knew Tucson was a conservative (or at best, a "purple") city when I moved here in January of 2017. I had visited a couple of times and knew a few people in the area. But when I was a tourist I just went to a downtown street fair, which is diverse and decidedly not conservative. I wasn't trying to make friends or find someone to date. Although I love Tucson in general and I think the people are really nice, it has been harder for me to find "my tribe" than in other cities I have lived in.

I haven't always been as liberal in my views as I am now. I grew up in Alabama, but it was in Huntsville, the most liberal city in the state, and it was during the very permissive 1970s, and my parents were progressive, independent voters who did not attend church regularly. So my home environment was more liberal than that of many Alabamans. However, I married a Southern Baptist who got involved with the very conservative Church of the Nazarene during our marriage (we're talking faith healing and speaking in tongues at every service). This became a serious problem for us, because although I tried to go along with him, I just didn't share those views. We ended up divorcing and then I married a Baptist "preacher's kid," who was conservative but mainstream. During this period, from roughly 1976 to 1988, I voted Republican in national elections and attended a Baptist church regularly. But eventually, I realized that I was struggling to fit into the conservative mold, and it was making me very unhappy because I wasn't being true to myself. My husband was also unhappy, and we ended up divorcing in 1990.

After I split up with my preacher's kid husband, I started a serious study of the Bible and began doing things like watching movies that were banned by conservative theaters in Alabama (like The Last Temptation of Christ"). I also became a vocal supporter of abortion rights, and when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, he was the first candidate I ever campaigned for. And after the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, during which a panel of white male Congress members eviscerated Anita Hill, I pretty much swore off the Republican party. I've only voted Democratic since then, with no regrets.

The areas that I lived in after I moved North were liberal bastions: New Jersey (in the NYC area), the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles. In the first two I was still working full -time and had little difficulty finding like-minded friends at work. I never found a church that I felt confortable with, although I remain a Christian. And in LA, I was in the entertainment business, and pretty much everyone I met was a liberal. It was very easy to find friends, and tolerance, in this most diverse city in the US.

I loved living in LA, but it is terribly expensive, and the traffic was horrific, so when I decided to retire at age 59, I looked for a warm city with a dry climate that was smallish and had a reasonable cost of living. Tucson and Albequerque were the finalists. Tucson had the better cultural life and great restaurants, although it was not particularly diverse. I told myself that didn't matter, and left LA at the end of 2016. Although I miss the ocean and the diversity, most of the time I've had no regrets. I've made some good friends (liberals, like me) and learned how to turn the talk away from politics at the dog park in the wealthy suburb of Oro Valley near where I live. But every now and then, something will happen that reminds me that I still haven't found my tribe here.

Last week,during the Democratic euphoria of celebrating Joe Biden's inspired choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate, an actor friend posted an article on Facebook about Harris from the New York Times. He asked his followers what they thought about the decision, and said to keep it "clean and nice." I should point out that he is a leading producer of faith-based films in the area, and has a large following of Christians. I didn't really expect a lot of positive comments (mine was pretty much the only one), but I was

shocked at the vitriol in the negative ones. The nicest were the suggestions that if the Democrats can't do any better than this pair, then the Republicans have nothing to worry about in the election. The mean ones suggested that Harris had only succeeded because she slept her way to the top (but that wasn't how they put it) and that Biden is a demented pedophile. I couldn't let it pass, so I posted the following: "I am shocked at the tone of the comments posted here. Isn't this pretty much the Christian acting community responding? If not, okay. But if so, I'd be interested to hear how all of you square your comments and your support of Donald Trump with the teachings of Christ. And I'd love to know what our Lord would have to say about these comments. I'm shocked, and saddened." I got one "like," before this "friend" blocked me without comment. I expected some sort of response, but that was it. Which pretty much says all I need to know about him.

So I am still trying to find my tribe here. Thank God for all my long-distance liberal friends! I've pretty much unfollowed everyone on Facebook who is a virulent conservative. I don't need to read their hateful posts or angry comments. And I'm looking for new ways to meet people my age in Tucson. I know there are plenty of liberal churches here, and it's high time for me to get involved in worship again. I'm also volunteering for the local chapter of the Democratic National Convention, although unfortunately most of their events are still virtual due to Covid. And I have made it clear in my online dating profiles that I am not interested in anyone who is a Trump supporter. After all that has happened during his tenure, I don't understand people that continue to defend him, especially Christians. He embodies everything that Christians used to be against! I may feel lonely sometimes, but I prefer it to having to argue with people that I thought were my friends.

#RedState #BlueState #PurpleCity #Liberal #Conservative #Anita Hill #Campaigning #BidenHarris2020

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