Not being able to stand intolerance is probably a conundrum that predates organized religion, even human language. This appears equally true today when it comes to base bigotry such as racism and anti-Semitism as it is with Republicans who cannot tolerate Democrats or vice versa.
But not all intolerance is the same. And not all places in the country’s 3,142 counties and their equivalents are the same. Some rate as much more politically tolerant than others, and sometimes they are even adjacent, as with La Plata and Montezuma counties.
PredictWise has a complex and seemingly rigorous process for this. Among the many factors it looks at is how a county resident would react if an immediate family member married a Democrat or a Republican and how well that resident thinks terms such as “selfish” or “patriotic” apply to supporters of each party. The result “was surprising in several ways,” The Atlantic found. “First, while virtually all Americans have been exposed to hyper-partisan politicians, social-media echo chambers, and clickbait headlines, we found significant variations in Americans’ political ill will... regardless of party.”
It found, for example, that people in Montezuma County rate low – 30th out of 100 – or political intolerance, roughly on par with Ventura County, California.
It found that San Juan County, its New Mexico neighbor to the south, ranks even lower, at eighth out of 100.
La Plata County came in higher, at 76th, almost even with Los Angeles County, California, at 80th. La Plata’s New Mexico neighbor to the southeast, Rio Arriba County, is nearly as high as La Plata, at 69th.
In Rio Arriba, Democrats usually occupy all city, town and county offices. It turned blue in the 1960s and stayed that way; the last Republican presidential candidate to carry Rio Arriba was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1956.
In La Plata County, voters narrowly chose Bush over Gore in 2000; in 2018, in every contested race at all levels, not a single Republican won – and now it is nine places more politically intolerant than Rio Arriba.
We do not doubt that there are Durango Democrats who might say, “That doesn’t mean we’re intolerant. Everyone knows Republicans are evil.”
The same perhaps could be said in reverse for Davis County, Utah, next-door to Salt Lake City, which ranked 91st for political intolerance, and where Hillary Clinton came in third to Donald Trump in the 2016 election, with approximately 20 percent of 131,000 votes. Do Democrats in Davis County feel the way Republicans do in La Plata, unwanted and unheard?
The Atlantic also found that the most politically intolerant Americans tend to be whiter, more highly educated and older. They seem to live in bubbles of their own devising.
A week ago, Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator, made an unannounced visit to the University of Colorado-Boulder, his law school alma mater, the Colorado Independent reported. He was speaking to a student GOP group when Tim Weston, a self-described activist, and a CU-Boulder associate professor of Chinese history, said, “I’d like to hear you say what it is that [President Donald Trump] has done positively that outweighs the almost unanimous opinion in this country of the mistakes he’s made — ongoing mistakes.”
According to PredictWise, Boulder County rates even higher than La Plata for political intolerance, in the 90th percentile. Perhaps we ought to see that what saves us in the end is that nothing in this country is unanimous. It is not even close.