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14 June 2009

Rustics Have Opinions, Too

I've noticed something about the American Left, specifically those members who claim to be "cultured": they share a distrust and even hatred for rural Americans. They constantly mock the values, feelings, and politics of this oft-derided constituency, framing them as stereotypical "rednecks" or "good ol' boys" who spend most of their time polishing their guns drunk while watching NASCAR.

Let's face it: stereotypes exist for a reason. Think of any offensive stereotype and there's a kernel of truth to it. But that doesn't mean we should go around judging people based on those stereotypes. Liberals are making that point all the time, and in this case they're actually right. As usual, though, they fall back into their old, hypocritical ways when it comes to rural Americans. It's "hate speech" if someone insinuates that an Asian is good at math, but it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at someone who's only skin pigmentation is on the back of his neck.

I'm not saying that having a sense of humor is wrong. Maybe white guys really aren't as cool as black dudes when they drive. Dave Chappelle had tons of great material and Boondocks deals with race relations in the United States today better than any other show out there. I want to make it clear that I have nothing against humor. By laughing at stereotypes, we rob them of their power, rather than adding to it.

The same holds true for "rednecks" or "white trash" or whatever label one uses. If it weren't, Jeff Foxworthy would be out of a job. The problem arises, however, when we start to marginalize those Americans because of the stereotypes that exist. Such marginalization of African Americans, for example, would be roundly denounced by the left, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, liberals often celebrate when such marginalization is applied to the rural white American.

In an otherwise excellent article in Harper's Magazine entitled "Barak Hoover Obama: The Best and the Brightest Blow it Again," Kevin Baker indulges in this marginalization to a sickening extent [Note--at the time of this writing, the full text of the article is only available to Harper's subscribers]. The bulk of the article draws historical parallels between Presidents Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama. Baker's research is impeccable and his understanding of an oft-maligned (and extremely intelligent) former president is refreshing. He implicitly challenges the more common "Obama-is-to-Roosevelt-as-Bush-is-to-Hoover" analogy and draws some pessimistic conclusions about Obama's approach to passing many of his long-promised, radically liberal reforms.

A large part of Baker's argument is that President Obama is proceeding with excessive caution and is relying too heavily on Congress to enact the changes he seeks for the nation (naturally, many conservatives would argue that the opposite is true, but suffice it to say that Baker is approaching Obama's proposed reforms from the point of view of a liberal supporter--he actually thinks that cap-and-trade is a good thing). Baker maintains that congressional Democrats from states with small populations like Montana are stepping up after years of quiet service to challenge many of Obama's efforts.

The language Baker uses to describe these representatives and senators is thick with disrespect. He talks about their states as filled with tumbleweeds and ignorance. He implicitly challenges the notion that these congressmen--and by extension their constituents--have no place in contemporary American politics and that they should be brushed aside and ignored, all because they're impeding Ossiah's democratic-socialist vision. This viewpoint is shared implicitly and explicitly by most liberals and leftists. The thinking is that because these states have small populations--and don't have a good place to get sushi or gourmet coffee--they don't deserve to have a place in the American political system (not to mention the fact that Baker is encouraging Obama to squelch dissent and open discussion, supposed bedrocks of modern liberalism).

What's most disturbing about this reasoning is that it is anathema to the very structural philosophy of the United States Constitution. The Constitution clearly sets out to create a structure that gives states with large populations more power in the House of Representatives, while allowing states with small populations to maintain an equal footing in the Senate. The same theory exists behind the Electoral College. If our system was not balanced in this way, New York and California would always pick the next president and would exert a dangerous amount of control over national politics (with only conservative Texas able to balance things out a bit). Regional interests do not necessarily coincide with national interests, and what's good for New York may not be good, and may even be bad, for Iowa.

Yet liberals consistently ignore this inconvenient truth and view it as a stumbling block to their pet projects, whatever they might be. At the risk of sounding like a blowhard conservative talk show host, leftists in America today have no respect for the Constitution except when it is politically advantageous or convenient. Now, I am willing to admit that there are plenty of conservatives who probably treat the Constitution in the same way, but they are much, much harder to find. This disrespect cannot endure for long, regardless of the side.

Therefore, I applaud what these rural Democrats are doing. Maybe they are dusty old relics of the party, but that's for the Democrats to sort out themselves, and that should not invalidate what these men have to say. Maybe most of them are blowhards and are simply seizing their moment to be in the spotlight or to play to their base, but some of them have useful objections and suggestions. I don't want to give liberals any additional aid, but it seems to me that they could use all the help they can get in the more rural parts of the country. Taking the interests of rural Democrats more seriously would be a great start.

Kevin Baker and his ilk live in a world of trendy green advertising and mocha lattes. They have no respect for hard working rural Americans--oh, heck, we'll call them "rednecks"--who help make this country into the wonderful tapestry of ideas and cultures it is today.

Besides, who wants to watch Jeff Gordon race in a Prius?

1 comment:

  1. Tyler:

    The reason the left is so hostile to rural America and it's representatives is because they consistently vote against their own self interest. You don't have to look very far to see that.

    South Carolina is experiencing negative economic development as it's neighbors, GA and NC, enjoy constant growth--even in a period of extreme recession. There are many reasons for this, but the one I'm the most interested in is the legislature's prohibitive stance on annexation, and the state's ability to foster strong cities.

    It's not about Prius' or starbucks, etc. At least not for genuine Democrats. It's about uneducated people being lied to, and suffering because of it.

    Why do you think officials in this state don't support education?

    (Now, you're right--Liberals go about this in the wrong way, and a way that is easy to characterize as you have done above. The left is full of hypocrisy, and it's infuriating to folks who actually have a stake in the real issues, not just those keith olbermann ones.)

    I guess what I'm saying is the Constitution is all well and good. As long as your constituents can't read it.



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