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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 25, 2004

 
This Land Is Your Land

Ezra pointed me to this Paul Waldman piece in The Gadflyer that hits on something that's been getting me angrier and angrier during the last few years --- the constant refrain by Republicans (and accepted without comment by the mediawhores) that blue state America is somehow unamerican. It's offensive and I'm tired of it:

Fantasyland, October 25, 2004 – Today John Kerry opened up a new line of attack on President Bush, charging that his policies and positions are a product of Texas, a state whose political culture lies far outside the American mainstream. "The former governor of Texas has governed like, well, like a former governor of Texas," said Kerry to the laughs and hoots of the crowd. "He's so far out on the right wing, he fell off the plane."

Kerry also brought up Tom DeLay, the ultra-conservative congressman from the Lone Star state. "George Bush makes Tom DeLay look like a Texas moderate!"

The new line of attack came as an independent liberal group began airing a new ad in which an elderly couple says, "George Bush should take his NASCAR-loving, tobacco-chewing, trailer-park-living, redneck freak show back to Texas, where it belongs."

Of course, we've never seen a story like this one – like all Democrats, John Kerry knows that if he criticized one state or one region of the country, the press and the Republicans would come down on him like a ton of bricks, charging him with being a Northeastern elitist who doesn't want to be the president of all Americans.

But the rules are different on the other side of the aisle. In today's politics, it is acceptable for Republicans to traffic in ugly stereotypes and assert outright that people who come from some areas of America are not really American. Some might remember the ad to which I referred, aired by the conservative Club for Growth, which said, "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

[...]

Bush is hardly the first Republican to use this attack; when the DNC decided to hold its convention in Boston, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, "If I were a Democrat, I suspect I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, America."


[...]

Why does Bush get away with this? Because the press corps buys the Republican argument that the areas of the country where there are lots of Republicans are "really" American, and the areas of the country where there are lots of Democrats aren't. So they never asked whether the fact that Bush was a "Texas conservative" would hurt him, while they constantly wonder about how damaging it is that Kerry is a "Massachusetts liberal." Disparage Texas – or Alabama, or Mississippi, or Kansas – and you're in for a heap of trouble. Throw insults at Massachusetts or California or New York, and the press will laugh right along.


If Kerry wins this election, it is highly likely it will be without the South. And maybe then people are going to realize that catering entirely to one regional culture and insulting the others may not be the way to build a permanent majority. If that happens it's not going to be us blue-staters from Taxachusetts or Hollywood who have the problem.





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