Life on the Road
The idea for this trip came to me shortly after the 2004 Presidential election, during which time the media had polarized the country by stereotyping the "blue state voter" and "red state voter;" living in San Francisco, one of the "bluest" areas of the country, I felt these stereotypes did the country a great disservice. That said, I live in a liberal bubble and don't hear many differing opinions or know many people living in the so-called red states. So I decided to take a road-trip get a feel for those places and have conversations with people from all walks of life about why they vote the way they do (or not). I had no idea what to expect and wasn't sure how I would be received being a journalist from San Francisco, but I am pleased to say I have been overwhelmed by the incredible hospitality that I have encountered. From Crystal City, Texas to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, complete strangers have invited me into their homes and shared their personal opinions about issues including civil rights, religion, abortion and the war. After spending three months on the road, it's clear the diverse political climate of this country is disconnected from and ignored by the mainstream media.
In addition to my journalistic goals, this trip has taught me more than you can imagine about living in different parts of the country. Just last night, I found out how not to plan my day in Oklahoma City. I spent most of yesterday in my hotel room doing research and setting up interviews. After finally deciding to grab a bite to eat at 9:30 pm, we quickly found ourselves on a harrowing search for a restaurant with some sort of vegetarian option. We passed an endless array of chain restaurants, but most offer steaks and ribs. After becoming extremely restless, we settled for a Taco Bell copycat restaurant on a strip mall and went to Borders for a change of scenery. It was closed, so we ate in the parking lot. Much to my dismay, my supposed vegetarian taco turned out to be a beef taco.
Because this trip has been so rewarding (and challenging), we have decided to extend it for another few months. After Oklahoma, we're going to Nebraska and Montana. I plan to end by interviewing people in my home state of California. I'm funding this trip by writing articles from the road and eventually plan to write a book about my experience.
Here are a few of my most recent articles:
No Room for Moderate Republicans? - AlterNet
As liberal and conservative groups and pundits debate the future of the Supreme Court, a large but often overlooked group is being left out of the conversation: moderate Republicans.
Not So Red - The Austin Chronicle
A 'blue state' reporter journeys through the multicolored regions of the Lone Star State
The Loneliness of a Lonestar Liberal - AlterNet
Progressive activists in Texas face strong and often hostile opposition. But they say they're going to fight to turn Texas blue again.
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