Whether you identify as left or right or somewhere in-between, the Trump presidency has created a tumultuous political climate that is difficult to ignore.
As a New England travel book writer, part of my job is to be an ambassador to the region. Writing about politics is a tricky business. But just as I need to write about the Red Sox in describing our regional psyche, I can’t adequately and fairly describe New England’s culture without acknowledging the region’s socially progressive and liberal political views.
New Englanders are both forward thinking and preoccupied by the past. We are proud of the role of New England’s patriots- Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, John Adams, Sam Adams John Hancock and Ethan Allen – who were the leading voices against British authority and played key roles in the events that led up to the American Revolution. Less than a century later, New England’s churches were at the forefront in challenging the country’s indifference to slavery. And in more recent times, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage (2004) and pioneered universal health care (2006) for all its citizens.
And although New England is viewed as a hot bed of liberal thinking, the reality is a little more complex. Massachusetts is without question a deeply blue state, yet we have had a string of Republicans in the State House over the past two decades, including our current governor, the well-regarded Charlie Baker. Mainers have a proud Republican heritage, often electing moderates like Susan Collins to represent the state in Washington. And while Vermont is the home of Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders , next door in “live free or die” New Hampshire residents are much more conservative, but with a libertarian slant.
I’m a huge believer in travel as a broadening experience. If you are curious and open-minded, travel can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and about other people’s perspectives. And of course travel is a great way to learn history – and perhaps foster a greater understanding of the complex issues like immigration, equal rights, and gun control, that our country faces today.
America is great. I think that we just have to find common ground. In Massachusetts we will soon be celebrating Patriots Day. The holiday takes place on the third Monday of April. It is also the day of the Boston Marathon. But the holiday actually honors the first outbreak of open armed conflict between the militia and British soldiers that took place in and around the towns of Concord and Lexington on April 19, 1775. I dare anybody on either side (or outside) the political spectrum to visit Concord’s Minute Man National Park and not have a sense of the enormity of this first military victory for the colonists.
Or tread in the steps of our Founding Fathers as you follow Boston’s Freedom Trail which highlights some of the most significant sites of Boston’s colonial-era. At the simple circle of cobblestones that mark the sight of the 1770 Boston Massacre, imagine a mob of colonists throwing snowballs and taunting a small group of panicked British soldiers. In the chaos, shots rang out and five unarmed colonists were dead. Did you know that John Adams (our future second President) defended the British soldiers in court? Adams won and the soldiers were acquitted, There are many lessons for our era here.
I don’t think that it is happenstance that both Boston’s Irish Famine Memorial (at Washington and School Streets) and the New England Holocaust Memorial (98 Union St., Boston) are located just steps from the Freedom Trail. Today, New Englanders continue to inspire citizens to rebel, reform and protest. Come to New England and visit the historic sites that spawned our nation. Learn from our stories; our triumphs and mistakes. It is my hope that my travel books -in some small way -shape how readers come to know my beloved New England.