When I drive down Madison Street, I love the impact the rainbow banners have on me.
Aesthetically, they are stunning.
Ethically, they affirm one of my values, the value of respecting the humanity of every person. Viewed from my religious perspective, I try to frame everyone I encounter as a child of God.
I don’t mind that my tax dollars have been used to purchase and install the banners, paint Madison Street with rainbow colors and provide support for drag queen performances.
I approve of the library using my tax dollars to purchase controversial books like Gender Queer and The Hate U Give.
Not only do I feel comfortable with all of the above, but so does the majority of residents in this community, as far as I can tell.
We don’t feel the immediate effects of the culture wars here in Forest Park because events like a Juneteenth Pool Party or flying a rainbow flag on a village flagpole are consistent with the values of the cultural base in this town.
Just like Donald Trump has a MAGA base of voters, we in Forest Park have a core cultural base I will describe as unpretentious, pragmatic, diverse, and blue collar sophisticated.
Diversity is often defined in terms of race.
Look at the racial/ethnic backgrounds of the field of candidates running against each to become the Republican nominee for president. Indian: Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy; Black: Tim Scott, Larry Elder, Will Hurd; Cuban: Francis Suarez.
Racial diversity, sure, but ideological diversity? I don’t think so.
Forest Park is diverse racially, but I don’t think we are diverse ideologically. In the last election, over 80% of us voted for Biden, and there is little controversy among library patrons regarding which books are purchased.
In 2020, Louis Cavallo, who was then the District 91 superintendent, told the Review, “We believe that it [teaching about the contributions of LGBTQ people] is not only required by law but the right thing to do.”
When Cavallo used the word “we,” I assume that he meant most Forest Parkers.
If we narrow our focus to only what happens in our village, we have to conclude that no battles in the culture wars are being fought here.
But if Ron DeSantis led a caravan of Republicans from Florida down Madison Street, they would conclude that Forest Park is a community where woke comes to thrive.
I won’t list examples of his anti-progressive words and actions here. I’m assuming that most Review readers are aware of his MAGA world view and understand that his base would bristle at even the thought of using tax money to purchase rainbow banners.
My point is that just as DeSantis gets a positive, affirming response from his base in Florida, so Mayor Hoskins gets “attaboys” from his base, which includes myself, in response to the Juneteenth Pool Party. Local cultural homogeneity breeds unified ideology.
To my mind it’s important that we regularly acknowledge that we are living in an ideological bubble, in a relatively homogeneous lifestyle enclave. And second, we need to accept that fact that if we want to make things work on a national basis like they do here locally, we have to not only speak the opposition’s language but, more importantly, be able to see life from their point of view. Not agree with it but at least see it without bias.
An online post by the New York Times pointed out that both Republicans and Democrats have blind spots. Republican have struggles with college graduates and Democrats have largely lost the working class.
Regarding the Democrats, the piece concluded, “I don’t think the main problem is with the party’s policies so much as its overall vibe. Dems need to re-learn how to talk to working-class voters — to sound less condescending and ‘scoldy.’ Too many Democrats radiate an aura of, ‘If only voters understood what was good for them, they would back us.’”
If urban, educated folks need to learn how to communicate with workers, the Times contends that Republicans have to learn to do the same in the opposite direction. They need to dispense with the “craziness and chaos of the Trumpist style” and adopt an approach characterized by a “rigorous reasonability, a studied outreach to suburbanites and a more sober governing style.”
When I imagine myself as the mayor of a purple village, a community with a more even balance between Progressives and Trumpists, I think I would still hang rainbow banners along Main Street but intersperse them with ones featuring Juneteenth, a native American medicine wheel, a Harley motorcycle and a German beer stein.
“I’m taking my son to a hockey game,” said one father to a friend.
“I didn’t know that you liked hockey,” the friend replied.
“I don’t,” said the dad, “but I love my son.
Dare we set aside our need to be right and do the uncomfortable work of loving our MAGA “neighbors”?