Dear Tell All: Longtime Madisonian, first-time writer. I found myself loving this snowless winter while it lasted. A lot. And I have been thinking about how I might be a happier person overall if I moved somewhere in the U.S. where I didn't have to contend with typical Wisconsin winters.
But that means heading south, to a political climate I probably wouldn't feel at home in. What are the most progressive cities in the U.S. that also have warm climates?
Willing to Sell My Snowshoes
Dear Willing: You'd feel nice and toasty in Athens, Ga.; Durham, N.C.; and Austin, Texas. All of those warm Southern cities have solid liberal voting records, along with other elements that will remind you of Madison: progressive universities, strong music scenes, alternative newspapers, etc.
The problem is, you will be trapped within the city limits. In Madison, we have liberal Milwaukee just down the Interstate, plus the state's whole Progressive tradition. I mean, Russ Feingold was a senator here for 18 years, and lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin has a decent chance of winning a Senate seat herself this year.
By contrast, Athens, Durham and Austin are basically tiny blue islands in the middle of mostly red states. In Austin, for example, your neighboring cities will include Lubbock, Plano, Arlington and Abilene, four of the most conservative places in the U.S. In Athens, you'll be part of a Georgia political tradition that gave the world Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. And in Durham, you might actually hear a few old people speak kindly of the late right-wing extremist Sen. Jesse Helms. North Carolina, you'll remember, was also the place where the anti-gay, anti-abortion terrorist Eric Rudolph headed after bombing the Olympics so he could hide among like-minded folks.
Judging from your letter, Willing, I suspect you'll eventually kick yourself for moving to such conservative territories just because it was a little nippy up here. My suggestion: Buy a space heater and stay in Madison.