In a few months I will be moving to California for my first job as an Occupational Therapist (Edit: This never happened. – Ron – December, 2012). During my job search a key factor I considered was the political leanings of cities. As a politically oriented progressive atheist I applied to positions in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, LA, Anaheim, San Diego (yes, I know that SD is relatively conservative, but still California), Hawaii, Halifax, Toronto, and various other locations in Ontario, Canada. By contrast, I did not apply to any postings in Texas, Alabama, Florida, or Utah, and only applied to a couple in Alberta. Liberal bias much? Much too much. And I’d do it again.
Here’s what’s interesting. I currently live in London, Ontario, a city which I’ve heard referred to as “ultra conservative” (at least by Ontario standards) on several occasions. I’ve never really felt like I live in a conservative city. There was one time when I went to an Ann Coulter speaking event in London and was pretty stunned by how many far-right conservatives came out. But by the same token, I’m sure that if Michael Moore had come to town, I’d have been surrounded by Lefties. The Coulter event was the only time that I’ve ever felt like I was in a conservative space.
On the other hand, I have been living in London as a graduate student. Liberalism tends to run high in universities. Furthermore, the occupational therapy field can be argued to be left-of-centre at its core. These have no doubt been key factors in affecting the degree to which I perceive myself to be living in a conservative city.
Another factor that has significantly affected my experience is that being a strong atheist progressive, the people I hang out with have tended to be secular and left-of-centre. I have progressive religious friends, but I don’t know that I have any conservative friends. Unless a person lives in an incredibly polarized place, they will probably have a disproportionate number of friends of similar moral/political opinions (including relative indifference) to themselves. What is more, when I have interacted with people of significantly differing social/political/religious opinions, these differences often do not come up in conversation. A few days ago I spoke with a Christian Conservative. The subjects of our conversation: Charlie Sheen, winning, hot sauce and restaurants. It was delightful. All of this has got me thinking: