Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Walking among the smart people

When I was asked, months ago, to speak to Douglas County Democrats, I put a condition on my acceptance. It's an hour from home, and it would be January, so you wouldn't be able to count on the weather.
"I can do it if they're both there," I said. "But I'm not going all the way to Gardnerville for one of them."
My concern was experience-based: One of the first stories I did as a Nevada journalist, back in Ought-70something, involved person-on-the-street interviews in Douglas County. I'd just moved from Santa Monica, aka The People's Republic, where I was considered a right-leaning, suspiciously pro-business reporter with a modest flair for colorful expression. As countless newcomers have said since, I didn't know I was a liberal until I came to Nevada.
In any case, my introduction to Douglas County came when I interrupted a couple having breakfast and got a 15-minute lesson on the problems with America. One of them was the communist media hounding Richard Nixon for a perfectly innocent burglary (he would resign, one step ahead of impeachment, a few months later), and another one was me, for being part of the conspiracy to tear down America.
That impression has stuck with me for three decades, and that's more or less what I expected when I headed for Gardnerville Saturday night: Six or eight ex-hippies, not that there's anything wrong with those, gathered around a table in the back of a restaurant plotting the overthrow of George W. Bush, not that there's anything wrong with that.
The six or eight turned out to be maybe 250, and the table in the back of the restaurant turned out to be the main meeting room at the Carson Valley Inn, home of what I believe to be the best prime rib in northern Nevada, at least in the banquet division.
The overthrow of George W. Bush remains the goal. Which was a refreshing change from the company I've been keeping lately.
There were no political candidates in attendance (Hillary Clinton was in town the day before, Bill Clinton the day after, and John Edwards is due in Reno this week), but the major ones sent representatives. Former Michigan Congressman David Bonior, speaking on behalf of John Edwards, convinced me that Edwards is the best person for the job, and Army Major General (Ret.) Paul Eaton, talking for Sen. Clinton, convinced me she is, too. I walked into the place undecided and left the same way; I'll caucus for Edwards but vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination, not because of affiliation but because, just coincidentally I'm sure, the Republicans still don't have a sniff of what' s wrong.
But here's what struck me most strongly: Over the last 15 or 18 years, I've dealt mostly with people who are differently opinioned than I am. It's just the nature of commentary: People who disagree are more likely to complain than people who agree are to praise. And people who disagree are almost always dumber than I am.
Hold it. I know how that sounds, but consider: Whatever opinions you hold, you've presumably reached after careful consideration of the facts. If you didn't think those beliefs were right, you'd have different ones. So if people have looked at the same facts I have and reached wildly different conclusions, how smart can they be?
In this convocation of Douglas County Democrats, though, I was face to face with 250 deep thinkers who stand with me on the major problems of the day. I mean, maybe they like Bill Richardson and I like Edwards, or they want public transportation to be mandatory while I just want it to be convenient and cheap, but we can get together on that. When I have the same conversations with Republicans, I may want government to enforce health-based limits on industrial pollution and they trust industry to comply voluntarily with rules it writes for itself: Not much room for compromise there.
Also, compared to the normal run of my public discussions: better vocabularies, fewer knee-jerk opinions, lots more consideration of facts before reaching conclusions, and not a single misspelled word on the program or any of the literature. Damn, it's nice to be around smart people.


Blogger mindervillain said...

Okay, so you met a former Congressman supporting Edwards and a retired General supporting Clinton, but it was some dumb volunteer Obama flunky who advertised your appearance at CVI on your blog. Would it have killed you to mention that Obama's appearing in Reno, Fallon, and Carson City on Monday?

Watch the news (not RGJ, I hope); the Obama campaign might give you an actual, still employed public figure in the next few days to chat with - and it won't even cost you 75 bucks.

10:25 PM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

That was definitely one of the better columns.. er.. blog entries, I've read by Cory.

Point #1: The political terms conservative or liberal are strictly relative - and mostly meaningless.

Point #2: Belief for most that subscribe is absolute. Facts - even new facts and information do not change long held beliefs.

Point #3: Repugs long for the reinvention of the Reagan era. As it turns out from a historical perspective, Reagan was quite the meat head.

Point #4: Here in Arizona - and by extension Nevada - public education is considered a dirty word. Yet we long for good paying jobs. How brain damaged is that?

Point #5: I consider myself an economic realist that doesn't fit nicely into any party or even a single candidate's position.

One thing I can agree with Cory on is it's nice to be around smart people no matter their political affiliation.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Ann Onn said...

Too bad there are far more unintelligent voters than intelligent voters.

3:24 PM  
Blogger rosebud said...

um, yeah, not much difference between nevada democrats and republicans.

take, for instance, the democrats' complaint about the disenfranchisement of voters in places like florida and ohio. now, a lawsuit is filed by some democrats to prevent the votes of others from being counted. of course, it was not filed by the presumed beneficiary herself and the organizational plaintiff has not officially endorsed her. but she, or any of the other candidates for that matter, could harshly condemn this hypocrisy. even if it was the business as usual wink-wink, nod-nod, it would at least give the appearance of addressing the principle.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I wish those same smart folks were running Hillary's show in Reno. I think they blew it by poorly advertising the time and place of HRC's appearance, and then the venue was so small as to effectively lock out many of those who were able to figure out where it was and when (certainly the time was never publicized anywhere that I saw and the only mention of location I saw it mentioned in a blog).

I went to Obama's appearance today. There were folks lined up wrapped around the block. My guesstimate is that it was in the low one thousands, perhaps 1400 souls? More than twice as many as attended the 2 Clinton events COMBINED. It was well advertised.

HRC's handlers better figure out how to better organize public events, or do they have so little regard for N. Nv. that they don't care?


8:04 PM  
Blogger mindervillain said...

Jon, was that Obama's Reno appearance that you went to? I was at the Carson City appearance where I was told that he drew about 1500 in Fallon, but that the Reno appearance was disappointing: perhaps less than 500. I hope your figures are more correct.

One organizer unofficially told me that at Carson City there were about 200 turned away, about 1000 in the overflow theater where they saw the appearance on a live feed, and about 1200 in the main meeting. I can't confirm the first two figures, but the gymnasium crowd looked every bit of 1200, and probably more. Plus I understand that Obama made personal contact with each group.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senate Whip and Illinois senior Senator Dick Durbin will be at the Carson City Obama headquarters at 3:00 PM and at 88 Cups coffee shop in Minden at 5:15.

11:09 PM  
Blogger dairylady said...

I doubt Obama had 1500 in Fallon as the Junior high gym holds about 5-600 and cars were only parked about as far around as for a junior high concert at 6 pm when I drove by life happened so I missed getting there to hear him speak.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I make no claim to being smart so I'd like to ask, those of you who are, a question. In 2000 and again in 2004 Mr. Chaney and his friends put Howdy Doody into office in spite of the people's vote. Since then they have stolen billions of dollars and trivialized the Constitution. What is it , you smart people see, that makes you think 2008 will be any different?

From time to time I hear people talk of a coming revolution. It is my belief, and again I point out a lack of smarts on my part, but I think we had a revolution in 2000 and we lost.

8:24 PM  
Blogger EidolaC said...

Some comments about our language in recent column have prompted to to inform you about a new verb that has sneaked it's way in. Once it even came from an official letter from the state of Nevada.
"As we transition to the new computer program we ask that everyone remain calm to errors that may occur." I have now heard it on TV twice, once saying "We are transitioning..." Does that mean that we can now say "We are now celebrationing Cindo de Mayo"?
Or, "I am now defrgmentationing my computer"? Just imagine the number of new verbs that might be coming our way.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Happy Camper said...

I agree with Tuzoner, it was a very interesting post, Farly worthy, I would say.
I felt throughout the process that the publicity for Edwards got shoved to the back, the press was so caught up in our " unique" candidates that it was hard for an average guy to get coverage. We learned he had a big house and paid to much for a haircut, the fact that he could finish a sentence without a cue card was never mentioned. I am happy to hear other areas of Nevada are becoming more open minded, when I arrived in 1973, there was not any forum for discussion. I don't have a problem with Republicans; I just can't deal with stupid people. I always listen, I may disagree, but when I am not arguing with you, I may just learn something. Most of the Repulicans I have met so far seem to be absolutely closed minded and proud of it. Nice in other area's, but say Bush and they start to shed, defending their decision...... I am non partison and that gives me the freedom to pick the candidate and the issues; and hear both sides.

9:24 PM  

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