Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Worlds Masquerading as One

I live in two different worlds. One is progressive, adventurous and sometimes a bit outrageous but always leaning forward. For half a year I wear my Southern California handle as comfortably as any other seeker. But I also live in the Midwest and I’m darn proud of that too.

The Midwest is more staid and conservative than California in a common-sense kind of way. For me it’s two different life styles and two points of view. Yet there’s a common thread running between the two with openness for all and acceptance of different points of view. Both offer a realistic view of the world and not a closed-minded myopic wish for what used to be. They don’t dwell on a world that, in fact, never really existed except in television sitcoms and wishful thinking. Instead they focus on what could be and not what once was.

On the night America took a sharp turn to the right, my two adopted states continued a long tradition of progressive thought and action. Certainly there were blips along the way. Neither party got everything they wanted but the human fabric and soul of both states remained intact.

Geographically, California and Minnesota are thousands of miles apart; yet connected by out-of-the-box thinking and a deep-seated pride in pioneering frontier values and driving ambition.

On the surface, there might not seem a strong connection between the two states. California just legalized marijuana. They passed meaningful gun control legislation that has been impossible to meet at the federal level. They agreed to pay more for schools, ensure medical funds for low-income residents require more transparency from legislators, brought back bilingual education and, in Los Angeles, agreed to pay higher taxes to address the chronic homeless problem.

Quoting now from an article on California’s famous reflexive liberalness… ”It’s the belief that access and inclusion and helping and protecting are worthy goals.” *

Robert Reich has been quoted as saying: “Along with its neighbors Oregon and Washington, California will be a nation within a nation starting in January, when the federal government goes dark.” That’s a bit overblown but reflective of the feelings felt here among many residents.

The accolades continue. California leads the nation in the rate of economic growth – more than twice the national average. It is home to the nation’s fastest-growing and most innovative industries – entertainment and high-tech. It incubates more startups than anywhere else in the world.

Yet California is far from perfect. A housing shortage has driven up rents and home prices into the stratosphere. While its public schools used to be best in the nation now they are among the worst. Each election cycle brings a plethora of new propositions which often times only confuse and muddy the legislative process. **

Minnesota is no slouch either when it comes to social issues. There was drug sentencing reform, moves toward an open primary, various child protection laws enacted and health-related issues addressed this session.

As much by lucky accident as foresight, I now find myself immersed in two different life styles, two different geographic locations and a wonderful diversity of friends and associates. Two different worlds, two different flavors and two wonderful life experiences at the same time.

I’m born and bred Minnesotan with a strong streak of California to flavor my mind. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*Los Angeles Magazine, November, 2016. Joe Dontelli.
**Desert Sun, November 27th, Robert Reich

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