A few weeks ago, I was walking out of an area convenience store when someone held open a door for me while on my way out holding a couple bags. The man then recognized me from being on the radio here on 790 WAYY, saying "You're that liberal from the radio!" With a smile and a laugh. We joked a bit, and I was on my way; that made my day.
In the wake of the recent "Dividing Lines" series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the underlying message of how people personally dislike others in our state more and more due to ideology, that encounter reminded me that this need not be the case. Just because one is a conservative, that does not mean a liberal has to dislike the person. And vice versa. Or any versa. We believe what we believe about policy, about society, but that does not keep us from being basically decent...from being human.
Perhaps this is more a characteristic of where we live. You know the term "Minnesota Nice"; I always consider a more-apt description to be "Upper Midwestern Nice" to account for similar attitudes in the eastern Dakotas, northern Iowa and, of course, in plenty of Wisconsin. My theory is that the origin of that attitude comes from the Scandinavian heritage that happens to cover that same expanse, but we have diversified enough that this "nice" attitude has become part of our culture at-large, no matter where your ancestors originated. When I hear how people choose to entirely stop talking to others because of political differences, I wonder if that is more of a phenomenon in the southeastern part of the state -- a part that, subtle as it may be, is culturally different than western Wisconsin.
Whatever the reason, that convenience store encounter -- and the good relations I have with my conservative next-door neighbors -- show that we can be passionate about how we'd like to see the world go forward, even if our opinions are opposite. Simply getting along in the rest of life accomplishes that goal of moving life forward quite well.