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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

The political lens

 

Last updated 7/19/2022 at Noon



Last week, The Nugget received a message on Facebook:

The only thing that the Nugget is good for is to burn in my fireplace. Left leaning and disgusting!! Burn it!

I’m pretty sure that this churlish little missive was meant to hurt our feelings, but it was kind of funny, actually. Because I’m also pretty sure that genuinely left-leaning readers don’t see The Nugget tilting their way. I have notes from them, too. They’re usually longer.

For a lot of folks these days, political ideology is inextricably tied up with cultural identity. For some people, their ideology isn’t just what they think — it’s who they are. It’s hard for folks who approach life that way to recognize that a lot of people just don’t look at the world through a political lens.

Like any citizen ought to, I do pay attention, I vote, and I have policy preferences. I’m not affiliated with any political party, and my positions on issues are somewhat heterodox — some would be probably be considered “conservative,” some “liberal.”

Like a lot of folks, I don’t really have a political home, because both parties currently demand either loyalty to personalities or ideological purity, or both, and I’m not willing to give it. I’d probably be a “Tom McCall Republican” if such a political animal could still exist anymore. Unfortunately, the habitat for such critters has long been destroyed, and they’ve been hunted to near extinction as “RINOS.”

The other end of the spectrum seems determined to force-feed the Republic a fantasyland “utopia” rife with identity politics, economic sophistry, hectoring about what we should eat, drink, drive, and think — and a bizarre disconnect between crime and consequence. And they don’t want the likes of me and mine around, anyhow.

So, like a bunch of other citizens* I’m left to wander in the nonaffiliated desert with no affinity for the extremes that drive the gurning and yawping performance art that passes for political discourse c. 2022.

Nor am I willing to tie my cultural identity to a “red” or “blue” tribe.

A new music friend and I were talking recently about the various cultures within the bluegrass community, and she opined that “West Coast” bluegrass is often considered a little more freewheeling, a little more inclined to experiment and add in diverse and nontraditional influences. That’s the kind of culture that always appeals to me. I told her that my nature is to feel equally at home at a machine gun shoot in the middle of the Arizona desert, or at the Oregon Country Fair. She cocked her head and took that in for a moment, and then flashed one of her trademark dazzling smiles. I think she got it.

It used to be kind of an Oregon thing to be a maverick, hard to categorize or constrain within an ideological or cultural box. Some of us are holding on to that spirit. My “liberal” friends tend to be outdoorsmen and women, and most of them are proficient with the tools of adventure in the outback, including firearms, which don’t have to be a cultural lightning rod. It’s not unusual to find some of my “right-leaning” friends sharing favorite Grateful Dead songs. They are — all of them, regardless of what bubble they fill in on their ballot — patriotic, hard-working, fun-loving, savvy, and creative folk.

Diversity, right?

Come right down to it, I just don’t really care what peoples’ politics might be. It’s not something I find particularly interesting or important in a person. I’d a whole lot rather talk history, philosophy, psychology and culture, hiking, music, or the weather than delve into partisan politics and the divisive outrage du jour.

I don’t judge anybody by their politics. I will judge them by the way they behave. Like Woodrow Call, the curmudgeonly old Texas Ranger from “Lonesome Dove,” I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.

This outlook works out pretty well from a newspapering standpoint, because we here at The Nugget really do enjoy presenting the diverse voices of the Sisters community. We’re going to keep doing that.

* Really, a BUNCH; as of March 2022, there were more nonaffiliated voters in Oregon than there were either Republicans or Democrats — D = 34.36 percent; R = 24.39 percent; NA = 34.46 percent.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.

 

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