A Little Bit ‘o Heaven, and a Lot of Socialist Hell

Friday, June 20, 2008
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I am in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, and have been here for a week. I have family here, near a place called Northfield, MN. This town is about 35 miles south of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I sit in a coffee house, where there are two “elite” (for whatever that designation is worth) liberal arts colleges on either end of town – St. Olaf and Carleton. The fact that it’s a college town makes it fun — a quaint, historical downtown/main street that sits on the Cannon River; coffee houses galore; ethnic restaurants; bookstores; great shops (I bought a very cool peace sign bracelet at a hippie store yesterday); a British tavern; an historical hotel; great sandal/shoe stores; organic and health food co-ops; and best of all, bikes, bikes, bikes (and bike trails) everywhere. Unlike most places, it makes sense to just ride your bike here. I have been riding 20 – 40 miles per day.

I’ve been coming here for about 20 years now, and I see myself escaping the suburban nightmare and living in a place like this in the near future – perhaps here, perhaps somewhere where it’s warmer. One thing I know about this place (the Twin Cities area) is that it is, outside of San Francisco, the most left-liberal place in the country, though I am sure other leftist havens will make that claim. It’s way left of places like Ann Arbor and Durango, at least IMHO. People still have Paul Wellstone bumper stickers plastered all over their cars, for goodness sakes.

People know that MN is a a blue state. But hell, it’s way more than that. People here are plain old commies. Social Democrat/EnviroCommunist/Anti-Capitalist/Anti-Globalist Leftists. They drive Subarus and Honda Elements and VW wagons; they wear all the stereotypical leftist clothing; they ride their bikes to the store carrying re-usable bags; they plaster Wellstone and Obama and NPR and “mean people suck” stickers everywhere; and they all wear Birkenstocks and greenie-style clothing. There is a table next to me, with six older females, and every single one of them looks like they just got back from a Greenpeace protest after a stint in Oregon living in old-growth trees. There are two aged hippies behind me planning a “let’s get arrested” protest (more comments on that later) because they can’t get a timely permit for temporary sidewalk dining and serving alcohol outdoors.

But … I have on Birkenstocks right now, so who am I to talk? ;–)

Contrary to their own opinion, I don’t often find much that is friendly about these people. They are usually not very interested in your existence, unless of course, you point out that you share a common protest or cause with them. They seem to be mean people, even more so than the supposedly mean people whom they detest. Not a lot of people say “hi,” and they don’t seem to like outsiders. Everything here is so oriented toward government planning, communal thinking, and collectivist living. Every discussion in every tavern or coffeehouse is riddled with the type of stuff you would insert into a script for a satire of their lives. My comedy is their reality. I joke that the only good thing that comes out of a greenish-blue (but very red) state like Minnesota is lots and lots AND LOTS of great bike paths. (Plus great hippie and sandal stores.) Great bike paths are everywhere, and more on that later. Overall, this is a very different place with some really strange people, and it’s that way whether I am in the South-of-the-Cities Birkenstock towns or within the Twin Cities themselves.

The most hypocritical point about these kinda folks is that while they pretend to eschew capitalism, excess waste, and progress, they exercise every damn opportunity to enjoy the glorious benefits of capitalism (their cars, bicycles, computers, Internet, $120 sandals, $5 coffees, Patagonia clothes, $500 Yakima roof racks, designer backpacks from expensive outfitters) and make their lives better because of it. In fact, the advances and choices offered by the marketplace – and profit-seeking entrepreneurs benefiting from private property – makes their lives so efficient and comfortable, they have plenty of time to park the fully-loaded Subaru Outback (LL Bean version) outside, and sit around a coffeehouse on a Friday morning drinking $10 worth of lattes and bitching about every single aspect of wasteful capitalism that needs to be changed via the collectivization of individuals through the increase of government planning and ownership.

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