October 1, 2004
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.
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.
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
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
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.