They tell me that about one person in 50 on the streets of Moscow, Idaho, is legally carrying a concealed pistol. A lot more have them in their cars. I rather approve of this, though I don’t think I’ll join in.

Many of those packing heat are women combining a hard, practical feminism with a conservative view of the right to bear arms.

The important thing is that you don’t know who is armed and who isn’t, and nor do potential rapists and muggers. I am sure this arrangement improves everyone’s manners no end.

It is certainly a very polite place and shoot-outs here are a good deal rarer than they are in gun-controlled London or Manchester.

As America approaches her most momentous presidential election for decades, I am in the True (but not specially Wild) West, the top left-hand corner of the United States, a hard-core Republican state that most visitors only fly over.

They think it’s dull. How wrong they are.

This extraordinary, divided little city, enfolded in low, fertile hills, is America in miniature – split down the middle, Left versus Right, Christian versus secular, gun-owner versus gun-hater, abortion advocate versus big-family home-schooling Bible-walloper, cyclist versus gas-guzzler, Obama versus McCain – and some interesting stations both in between and beyond.

Some local liberals fear that a powerful Calvinist Church plans to turn Moscow into America’s version of Iran’s Holy City of Qom.

All around, in the farm and logging countryside, self-sufficient, taciturn men in pick-up trucks would rather have a head-on collision with a freight train than vote for Barack Obama.

Continue reading →