October 30, 2004

An Uncivil War

No one could get elected to the presidency who'd implied that a candidate from say, Georgia, was too much of a slack-jawed, racist yokel to run the country. No one could get elected who suggested that a candidate from Montana could never really relate to the concerns of urban voters living in bustling ports or thriving technology centers because they were, you know, from *Montana.*

It would be considered patronizing and insulting to say any of that seriously, which is why I would never do such a thing, nor would anyone who wanted to be president. The pampered urbanites of the national media would be shocked, shocked, to find that such prejudice was still around in our day and age.

So MyDD and the Gadflyer want to know why it's alright to bash blue states. The Sideshow wonders why conservatives talk as if urban voters aren't 'real' voters, with some help from Salon and the National Review Online. As Avedon says, the conservative movement is inherently elitist. They act as if there's a part of the country that's more chosen than the rest.

If that part of the country is, in terms of Americanness, more real than the rest of us, they seem pretty insecure about it. Massachussetts can be slammed with impunity, California's 1/5 of the GDP and 1/10 of the electorate written off as useless, and New York made a national joke by people who haven't let me in on why it's funny. But the unspoken third rail of American politics is forgetting to pretend like the South and Midwest embody our founding ideals and deep sense of personal responsibility better than the part of the country where most people live. Though conservatives from those regions can't stop blaming urban liberals and the implied minority vote for, to borrow a quote, 'all these problems over all these years.'

It isn't so much anymore that part of the country still wants to secede, as has been suggested by many, but that it wants revenge.

As David Neiwert reminds us, fascism isn't so much about funny uniforms. It has far more to do with eliminationist xenophobes gaining political legitimacy and power. Mostly because creeping fascism is like a nasty flu bug with a penchant for an immune system compromised by stress, fear, and resentment. It doesn't care who it infects, what they call themselves, or how much they insist they're way too healthy to get knocked out by a silly flu.

Posted by natasha at October 30, 2004 02:15 AM | Elections | Technorati links |

You're conflating the South and the Midwest. Are Chicago and Minneapolis on the coasts? Are they suburbs? Are they all white? And if the Midwest is so red, why did the Republicans have to import someone to run against Barack Obama?

Posted by: Isabeau at October 30, 2004 07:20 AM

I guess my larger point is that you don't dare make fun of 'the Heartland', which generically refers to red states, the same way you get to make fun of the blue states. Going down deeper, the divide becomes more about rural vs. urban, suburbs vs. downtown. My own state of Washington is pretty red... if you were to excise the extremely populous Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia area. Without Chicago, Illinois would be red as anything. Even California, home of the John Birch society, is red as can be... if you don't count LA, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, etc., which outweigh even the radical rightists in suburbs like Pasadena that live right next door to a hotbed of Democratic activity.

There's some tipping point past which these areas define the whole state in popular dialogue, and then that state can be roundly mocked. Georgia's politics, for instance, is not defined by liberal Atlanta. Texas is not defined by Austin. So they're safe.

And yes, I expect that if you were to draw up stereotypes, you wouldn't draw up the same ones for states as different as Georgia or Montana. Except no one does so, because they'd get killed in the polls for it. It doesn't mean that they aren't pulled together in the Republican narrative as the 'real America.' I'm not the one who came up with this moronic meme, so if it isn't completely coherent, I don't know what I can do about that.

Posted by: natasha at October 30, 2004 12:22 PM