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Campaign Diary home >>  Closed-minded liberals

Closed-minded liberals

Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio

Only in Yellow Springs could a town so small greet Dennis Kucinich so warmly.

With 200 people gathered outside a small bookshop, "The Kooch" has drawn a larger crowd in a town of 4,000 than John Edwards drew at yesterday's election night party in Milwaukee.

Yellow Springs is part Walden Pond, part Woodstock -- a haven for hippies who never grew up. Every shop is a celebration of self-expression. Every person is unusual.

Take Terry Snider. When he walks through the woods, he ponders the mysteries of the universe. He asks, "How could the wind be blowing tree branches in so many different directions when it's blowing me in one direction down here? Maybe the trees get energized to dance? And if they can dance, can they talk too?" Snider's eyes flash with wonder, as he smiles the smile of a kid in the candy shop of possibility.

Take Robert Paschell. He calls Dennis Kucinich "an on-the-ball dude." When he mentions Kucinich's compassion, I ask him to explain it. "To spell it out," he says, "loses the point."

Snider and Paschell were both here in 1999 when Yellow Springs rallied against encroaching developers. A 900-acre farm was up for auction. The tiny town raised more than $1 million in three months and beat the "greedy" developers.

I find myself charmed by these Jerry Garcia look-alikes, but I also notice that Yellow Springs is less liberal than its facade. Every one here thinks alike, and their collective identity has not changed in 40 years. The town lacks what liberals celebrate: tolerance, diversity and change.

Scott Keyes likes Yellow Springs, but would "like to see a little more diversity in thinking." His friend Alex regretfully agrees: "Looking at the conservative side is not appreciated." Robert Paschell says, "The liberals are as closed-minded as anybody else."

Such is a lesson that a few liberals -- from Duke's classrooms to the Democratic Convention -- might remember the next time they assume a monopoly on tolerance.

Next stop: Long Island

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