Kathryn, I know exactly what you mean. I went to school in Madison (UW ‘95) and I spend as much time there every year as I possibly can — especially the East Side, where Democrats are considered right-wing. They may be loony-left on national politics, but they taught me what it means to be a good citizen. And it’s so beautiful there, and so peaceful–without exaggerating, I love Madison so much that it brings tears to my eyes sometimes. And there’s not a conservative in sight.
It is usually a waste of time to argue with Madison folks about politics (unless the topic is local). But trying to find common ground with them, no matter what the topic, is often a surprisingly rewarding experience. You will always make some progress. That’s why I would be very sad to see a Tammy Baldwin or Russ Feingold lose their seat. (And before that comment triggers retaliatory airstrikes from conservative readers, let me reassure you that the my feelings about Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, etc., are quite different). The friends I had in college–liberal or far left without exception–are still my very best friends today. They put up with me and my horrifying politics all these years, so the least I can do is let the occasional anti-Republican invective slide. It all means something different on their planet anyway.