An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

I live in Utah, a Red, Red state, with isolated patches of blue—if you know where to look. I’m sort of a dusty green myself. I mesh with Reds and Blues about as well as a toad trying to look appealing on a pastry cart. From my observation, Reds and Blues inhabit parallel universes—and not just on politics. Now some similarities exist between the groups, although both would deny it. Reds and Blues are equally certain their beliefs are right and equally vitriolic to those who disagree. Both groups excel at denouncing moral weakness in political leaders of the opposing party while excusing “little mistakes” from their own. About the same number of Red and Blue women work outside the home. Both sides are equally likely to be divorced. From my point of view, the key lifestyle choices separating the groups are:

  • Transportation: Reds love SUVs and large pick-up trucks—even military surplus tanks if they can get them. Blues favor Subarus—less fuel efficient than my Taurus, but a whole lot trendier. Both are lousy drivers. Reds believe they have a Constitutional right to speed, tailgate, and run red lights. Blues are too busy meditating for peace or griping about big cars carrying big families to pay attention to traffic. In Utah, neither group is particularly crazy about my mode of choice—public transportation.
  • Food: I’ve learned not to plan lunch dates for Red friends at cozy Tea Shoppes that don’t serve soda. Reds also tend to favor chain restaurants so they know what they’re getting. Reds descend on case-lot sales like magpies on road kill—carting home cases of canned good to nourish their families during the upcoming Apocalypse. Blues daintily select organic food and $3.00 “natural ingredient” cookies at Farmers’ Markets to feed their families for the day. I prefer tanking up on forbidden foods at Costco where I can snack the sample tables without the guilt of actually purchasing fat/sodium laden goodies.
  • Reds abhor movies with graphic sex, but don’t mind graphic violence—so long as the good guys win. Blues abhor violent movies but don’t object to sex—so long as it’s between consenting adults. Personally, I like Desperate Housewives–sex, violence and humor with one flick of the remote.
  •  Reds and Blues both prefer “unbiased news.” Reds get theirs from Fox while Blues view MSNBC. Reds shiver at Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh’s warnings that America is going to hell in a hand basket. Blues chortle at Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s warnings that Beck and Limbaugh are carrying the hand basket in which we’re all riding to hell.
  • Reds are significantly more likely to attribute natural disasters to the “last days” or see them as punishment for the wicked. Blues blame global warming. And Ma Nature does her best to accommodate the fears of both.
  • Reds are more likely to spend Sundays at church wishing they were home watching TV, walking the dog or washing the car. Blues are more likely to actually be at home watching TV, walking the dog, or washing the car.

Hope for reconciliation, even friendship between Reds and Blues is about as wistful as looking for ripe tomatoes the day after setting out plants in May.  It’s not just politics—it’s deep core values. Really, a tea drinker and a cola drinker have nothing in common—except in our family. George is pretty adept at quaffing a diet Coke from his right hand while nursing a cup of tea in his left.

Comments on: "The Red, the Blue, and the Toad" (4)

  1. Hah! I drive a blue Subie! But I’d rather drive a red Mercedes.

  2. charlene said:

    As a U of Utah alumnus, I always have to do a cognitive dissonance mind shift whenever political red and blue comes up. Red=Utah=liberal; Blue=BYU=conservative…no, wait. That’s not it.

    In the political red and blue talk, I claim to be a “dedicated unaffiliated.” I’d like to be green, but I drive a red jeep.

    I hate the divisive “us” and “them” talk, and I consider Rush to be evil for stirring up contention. I try to reframe all discussions by requesting that people tell me who “they” is (and I can usually find a way to be in that group so the discussion becomes “you” and “me”), and clearly define labels as related to the issue, not the person or group. It probably doesn’t help, but at least it slows down the spewing.

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