Will the real America please stand up?


I try, generally, no to talk too much politics here at WINOW. Mostly, this is because I don't like political blogs and I don't want to be one. Even if I did, I don't have the passion or the knowledge to be a particularly good political blogger, so I'd just be one of the zillion or so bad ones. No thanks. Plus, I'm increasingly realizing that some of what I do blog about (thrifting, crafting, dogs, etc.) draws a pretty wide spectrum audience, politically speaking, and although I am of course true to my ideals, I don't want to unnecessarily alienate anyone.

I'm telling you all of this, of course, so that I can go on and make a political post. I suspect you already knew that.

Clearly, I support (and have already cast my vote for) Barack Obama. While I don't have half the love for Obama I did originally, I still think he's a pretty good candidate--the best one I've seen from the major parties in my lifetime, anyway. I didn't have to hold my nose or grit my teeth to vote for him. I am cautiously optimistic about what an Obama administration could look like.

But even if I didn't like Obama, I'd be going out of my way to vote for him. I'm that angry at the McCain/Palin ticket. The reasons I'm angry would take hours to list, much less explain, so I'm just going to focus on one:

I don't like being told I'm not a real American.

Verbatim (via CNN), this is what Palin said:

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

In and of itself, this would just be an ill-advised comment, and Palin's later "apology" for it would be enough to wipe it from my radar screen. But the comment doesn't exist in and of itself. It exists within the greater context of Palin, a woman who has spent the last several weeks going out of her way to say things that are alienating and insulting to anyone who isn't part of her mythical "real America." People of color. Really poor people (not just the noble poor working class to whom she's trying to pander). Anybody who exists outside prescribed lines of gender or sexuality. And, apparently, anybody urban.

I grew up in Palin's "real America." Spent 18 years there, and have since spent another 11 in the circles and places she seems to be deeming unpatriotic and somehow faux America. And I can tell her, from my experience, that the people on both sides of this line she has drawn are concerned about the same things. We're worried about money, about health care, about dying and killing in Iraq and anywhere else. We stay up at night figuring out mortgage interest and worrying about global warming. We're trying to reconcile the reality of our imperfect government with the ideal of democracy we've all been taught to worship. We're just trying to get by. Palin, and by association, McCain, are trying to divide along imaginary lines, for their own gain, people who need desperately to come together.

Hearing that quote from Palin, my mind immediately went back to two previous comments. The first, probably obviously, was Obama, as the DNC speaker in 2004, saying that there isn't a black America and a white America, there is a United States of America. The second, though, was GW Bush calling himself a "uniter, not a divider." How have things changed so that this focus on uniting isn't a priority for Bush's party? When did it become not only OK, but laudable for Palin to point at imaginary differences between the citizens of this country in order to draw even greater tensions between us, rather than focusing on the things we all need to pull together and do to come out of our current crises?

I've heard a lot of insulting things come out of the mouths of politicians, and Sarah Palin has said more than her share (the thing about community organizers boiled my blood for sure). This, however, makes me madder than just about anything I've heard. It is so fundamentally insulting, not just for those who don't fit into Palin's idea of the "real America," but for those who do, who apparently aren't able or willing to live and work and strive among anybody different than they are. The folks I grew up with, small town or not, were among the most accepting I've ever met. It is an insult to them for a woman like Palin to assume that pandering to their ignorance or suspicion of those who aren't like them will win the McCain/Palin ticket votes.

I'm not trying to change anybody's vote. I figure most people who are reading here have already decided anyway. And I know this is, as far as political blogging goes, "old news." But I've been stewing about it for awhile now, so I had to let it out. I'm pissed off that we're letting these people get away with this type of rhetoric. There is an us against them in this country, but it's not the one they're trying to paint. Rather, it's us, down here, all of us, against them, up there, trying to fit us to our roles in their dramas, trying to line their pockets off our work, trying to create a mirage before our eyes to lead us to the voting booths. They're trying to make us forget that we're in charge here, all of us, together. Not the real America and the faux America, not the coasts vs. the fly-over states, but all of us. This is our country, and it's up to us to fight them if we have to in order to get it back.

I don't quote from Ani much anymore, but I can't resist:
This may be God's country
but this is my country too
Move over Mr. Holiness
and let the little people through.


Amen! Very well said. The divisive "Real America" stuff has bothered me more than anything else to come out of an already hateful campaign season.

Everything I've read (not much) claims that the current model of dividing political lines up was devised for Nixon and has been pushed very successfully by the big parties since then.

I will once again state how badass Nixon and Kissinger were. Badass! Badaaaaaasss!

It would be nice if we could get over the old arbitrary political tribal divide and come up with a new one. That one is at least 30 years old already.

Don't trust any political tribal alliance over 30!


Can I get a woot woot!

Wow. Absolutely awesome post. You have summed up exactly what I've been watching unfold and worrying about. This mythical division of the vote and wholly unproductive partisanship that's been happening. It's saddening and unnerving. As a Canadian watching from up North, I worry about (okay, dread) what will come to pass on election day. Your votes affect more than yourselves. We're your biggest trading partner and we're tied closely to your economy. What you do - who you vote for - affects us too. How terrifying is that?!

That was a great post.

I'm European so it might not be my place to say this, but Palin probably made that remark because she knows that in general the more rural communities vote republican, so she's trying to appeal even more to possbile voters? Not sure if this is true, but that's what it looks like as an outsider.
I just think she's scary! I'm all for women in the highest places, but not one like her.

Very well said.

I'm glad I found your post.

I think there's snobbery on both ends, from people in small towns towards people in the big cities. And vice-versa.

A guy from France told me he had been to America--but only NYC. He wanted to one day come to the "Real America".

But then I sometimes get frustrated when it seems so many novels and TV shows take place in NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, or Chicago. It sometimes seems if you went by our fiction alone, the other cities and towns don't even exist.

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