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Stockton, USA

October 1, 2004
By Val

I live in a horrible dichotomy. Most of my life I have been stuck in a conservative city in what is supposed to be one of the most liberal states in the nation.

Stockton, USA

It is a perversion of fate that my father found work in Stockton, California, because if we had relocated a little more east or north I could flaunt my left-leaning views without getting negative glances. I now live in Davis most of the year, and the difference is stark.

My hometown of Stockton is much like the United States in miniature. It is filled with the urban sprawl of undeterred land development and corporate encroachment, high crime rates (we are ninth in the nation in terms of car theft), and SUVs everywhere.

Stockton is a city full of low-paying "McJobs" from all the corporate chains that have opened up.

The economic divide in our country is evident in the microcosm of my hometown. North and West Stockton contain the homes of the rich and upper middle class and includes Brookside. Brookside consists of several gated communities which only serve to show social segregation at its finest.

The South and East contain the residents of the working class and those that that are barely making ends meet. Many of its residents commute to be able to afford a place to live.

While emergency services have already been privatized, our water is now being negotiated out to private companies. It is conservatism gone awry, and it will only get worse for the small business owner and working stiff.

I have bad memories of being the only one defending liberal - and not-so-liberal - arguments and ideas during AP Government, against what seemed to be a half the class (the other half was apathetic). I still remember being the only one raising my hand during a vote on who supported affirmative action in that fifth period class.

When a Democratic candidate ran against her Republican opponent for mayor, I remember being the only one in a five mile radius with her lawn sign in front of my house.

I had always sensed that the paper had a conservative bias, which was only confirmed by their endorsement of Bush in 2000. When I contacted the paper about labor abuses at the local McDonalds I was largely ignored.

There are the conservatives, the apathetic, and then the liberals that you can count on your fingers in Stockton. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the people of Stockton - just the atmosphere.

Davis, USA

I breathe a sigh of relief when I get back to school in Davis. Where small businesses are protected (residents fought back Wal-Marts, and the like), leaving your car unlocked is mostly okay, and there are more Honda Hybrids than Denalis.

It is a place where nearly everyone running for city council stands for the environment and consumer over business profits. A city where every month there seems to be some liberal cause highlighted in the paper. It is a place where discussions of employee abuse by the corporation R.H. Phillips have been in both the city and university paper several times.

It is a great city where DCR (Davis College Republicans) are a sad pathetic bunch that holds rallies that consists of six people waving the flag and screaming in the Memorial Union (a main area on campus).

It is a city where sensible liberal policies and thought help to make it one of the best places to live. Davis is a mostly middle class suburbia without the sharp economic differences of Stockton-like cities.

While Davis is not perfect, it epitomizes rational liberalism in a microcosm of the United States. Its atmosphere goes beyond its "university city" status, for Stockton too has a large and prestigious university in the middle of it (University of the Pacific). Yet Stockton has none of the benefits.

It is only too sad that if given a choice, most people would prefer to live in a town like Davis. Yet most of America is, or is in the process of becoming, Stockton USA.

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