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Marion On March - 29 - 2011

Early Monday morning, I heard about Joe Bageant‘s passing.  Joe, along with Senator James Webb, provided me with a seminal epiphany regarding both my political and biological heritage this past year.

I was born in Joe’s hometown of Winchester, Virginia – basically because at that time, the mid-1950s – Winchester Memorial Hospital was the only hospital servicing Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Fauquier counties in Virginia, as well as southern West Virginia; but the people Joe described in his first book Deer Hunting with Jesus are all too familiar to me.

For a long time, Joe had been a champion of what he calls redneck culture, and not derisively, as many of the Left refer to that demographic. Senator Webb, as befits a Senator and a statesman, refers to that tranche of Southern society in a more refined manner, as those people of Scots-Irish descent, in his history of that culture, Born Fighting.

Both books left an impression on me, if for no other reason than both men are relatively scathing – Bageant even moreso – in their open criticism of the Coastal cultural elites who have reshaped and effectively sought to dominate the Democratic party for the past 40 years. Collectively, they’ve created the myth of the virulent racist redneck, found in the South and in the rural Midwest, and their urban counterpart in the Rust Belt, caricatured years ago in the character of Archie Bunker. Both men go into detail about how this myth was propagated by the so-called ueber-Left Progressive Democrats in affluent boroughs and safely Democratic constituencies all along the “Left” Coast as well as tucked away in the Northeastern corner of the United States, specifically from New York City to Boston, to the point where it was appropriated by the culture warlords of the Republican Party, twisted to suit their purposes in a campaign of fear and culture conflict, until the myth, regrettably, has come to be perceived as a reality.

What was sad about all this, is the fact that this demographic – commonly known as the old “working class” and its union association (in the event of the industrial North and Midwest) – was effectively thrown under the political bus by the Democratic reformers of 1970. The union bosses, they deemed too politically corrupt and too ignorant, for their liking; and the sweaty, undereducated working class, too dumb and roughewn for their refined tastes. They were almost derisive in their dismissal. What were these people going to do? Vote Republican? They’ll carry on voting Democratic. Fuck’em.

But they didn’t, did they? Some succumbed to Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy; others became Reagan Democrats. Most watch Fox News now. Why?

In Deer Hunting with Jesus, two episodes stick raw in my memory. Bageant speaks with several working class people living in and around his old neighbourhood of Winchester, Virginia, just the wrong side of the railroad tracks – people now in their fifties or sixties, working dead-end jobs at box stores which line the strip mall landscape along the interstates which weave through the Piedmont of the Blue Ridge. They work for minimum wage and they work like dogs – some at one job for sixty hours a week, some at three. That’s the difference between rednecks and po’white trash, Bageant explains – not that the Coastals would differentiate.

A redneck will work until he’s ready to be dropped in the grave and genuinely wants nothing more than his due from the government. In fact, he’s suspicious of the government, and that’s down to his Scots-Irish heritage, as further explained by James Webb. These people have an inculcated heritage of pride handed down, generation-by-generation, to them from their forefathers who left the poorest part of the British nation for a new life in the colonies. These people don’t trust the government as far as they could throw the proverbial stick. They’ll take Social Security and Medicare as their due, but want little else.

A po’white, on the other hand, is someone to be viewed with shame, someone so lazy or ineffectual that he has to accept government hand-outs in the form of welfare and is actually proud of it.

In Bageant’s book, he interviews several childhood friends, all of whom are suffering from various physical ailments and medical conditions, mostly brought about by poor diet and lifestyles. Face it, these days, poor people are morbidly obese. The cheapest food is the most fattening food, and precious few of them have the extra money for a gym subscription. As would be imagined, many of these people are insufficiently insured medically or aren’t insured at all. When asked by Bageant how they would feel if they had government-sponsored healthcare, free at source, but funded by higher taxes, most responded positively. Hell, they didn’t care who implemented the damned thing, Republican or Democrat, they’d be in favour of it. Hands down.

Yet, according to most people, this demographic seems the most adverse to any sort of “socialised medicine,” if for no other reason than it might be a harbinger of the infamous “death panels.” Why is that, do you think? Why would these people respond positively to such a suggestion of single-payer healthcare from Joe Bageant, but would vehemently poo-poo the idea when presented by a politician or a political operative, most likely from the Democratic party?

Possibly, for the same reason that these selfsame people gave to Joe for voting Republican, against their interests. They’re not stupid, they reasoned, although they reckoned “those Washington people” had them pegged as such. They knew damned well that both parties treated them, positively, as potential votes in an election year and, negatively, as nuisance constituents any other time; but they at least saw the Republican candidates for office when the time came, and other times, they knew the operatives the GOP sent amongst them as local people who spoke their language – used their vocabulary and dialect and sounded like them. That’s probably why the anomaly of a nice Jewish boy like Eric Cantor, with a broad Tidewater Virginia drawl and the drawn out courtesy culture in which we were all raised (“Yes, sir” and “No ma’am”) is able to represent a largely rural constituency in the Shenandoah Valley, each of whom could probably count on one hand the number of Jewish people they’ve known in their lives, and that ONE person would be Eric Cantor.

Bageant also talks about how blacks and redneck whites work side-by-side in shitkicking, low-paying and soulless jobs daily, without much of any thoughts about race or racial differences, but how their white betters, first the old land-owning elite and now their corporate successors, have played this difference off against each other in what has resulted in being tantamount to trickedown racism. Divide and conquer, as they say. But on the rare occasions when people wake up and realise that the difference isn’t in skin colour, but in those who have, as opposed to those who don’t, the result has been astounding.  Barack Obama turned Virginia blue for the first time in three decades, didn’t he? Yes, some smartass would say, but that’s mainly down to North-to-South migrations into urban areas like the sprawling suburb of Northern Virginia. Well, I’m a Fauquier County girl from the Tenth Congressional District, represented by that inestimable Republican Frank Wolf, and Fauquier County, largely rural, has been the blue thorn in Wolf’s red ass for the thirty years he’s been in Congress.

The other thing remarkable about Bageant’s observations is how cleverly the Republican party has used religion and culture to imbue this demographic with a false sense of self-worth. The GOP operatives highlight, pejoratively, the elite condescension of the Coastal elites toward the South, the rural Midwest and the old working class of the Rust Belt. These people are made to believe that such liberals look down upon them strictly as a second-class and almost subhuman proletariat. Sometimes, I’m sorry to say, various high-profiled spokesmen for the ueber Left reinforce this impression.

Bill Maher often refers to the Midwest as “flyover country”, and in a recent editorial on Real Time, ridiculed the South as being filled with Civil War re-enactors and losers intent on endlessly celebrating a one hundred fifty year-old act of treason. Yet James Webb repeatedly points out that a large contingent of armed forces personnel come from the South, including a huge number from West Virginia, mostly kids – black, white and Latino – from one-horse towns whose high schools aren’t geared to promoting college enrollment and who are often faced with the choice of operating a meth lab, gutting chickens in the local processing factory or the military.

And since the great Democratic reformation of 1970, the only Democrats to make all the way to the White House, have been two bubbas and a black man, and the current incumbent has very Southern and very Scots-Irish roots from his mother’s side of the biological equation. In fact, since 1900, bar two, all of the Democrats who successfully attained the Presidency were Southerners. Could it be that these affable sorts were able to communicate more effectively with the working classes? I even think Barack Obama, for all the television punditry would deny, communicates with ordinary people of any background, more effectively than any other President since FDR. At least, Obama speaks to people as adults; it’s not his fault that most of America hasn’t progressed beyond adolescent reasoning.

The religious aspect promoted by the Republicans is mostly that of the dangerous Dominionist dynamic – convincing these basically good Christian people that, because they’re Christian, they’ve been chosen by the Lord to ascend to his side, come the Judgement Day. They are, effectively, the Chosen -whilst the overtly secular Left take on the aura of the anti-Christ. Thus, they’re able to promote the Left’s agenda of pro-choice (read pejoratively: abortions) and human rights (read pejoratively: gays coming out of the woodwork) as evil and wrong. Thus, a Glenn Beck is able to convince his audience of millions that Christianity really shouldn’t be about social justice at  all.

It doesn’t matter that the efforts of the Democratic Party might bring you affordable healthcare free at source, or that their efforts provided free public education, paved the roads and brought electricity to thousands of rural homes in the past; it doesn’t matter that this is the party who’s traditionally protected the rights of working class people and working poor for donkey’s years, pun intended … this party is now promoted, cynically, by the Right, as anti-God, anti-foetus and anti-America, fronted by a man who – nudge nudge wink wink – doesn’t look like an American, doesn’t sound like an American, doesn’t have a name like an American and doesn’t even want to lead like an American.

There’s a culture war, all right; and it’s not enough that this culture war exists between the Right and the Left, between Democrats and Republicans. It exists within the Democratic Party, itself. When people who purport to be Democrats, lump everyone in the South into the category of unreconstructed Confederates, itching for the opportunity to seceed once again, they’re throwing an insult not only in the faces of Southerners who are Democrats and who come from a Democratic heritage, whose family stayed with the party rather than claiming Dixiecrat or faux Republican heritage, but it’s a slap in the face of Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. It’s a slap in the face of people like Ann Richards and Molly Ivins.

In the wake of the disastrous Midterms last year, during the time when the Coastal elites of the Democratic party were feeding fodder to the 24/7 cable chattering classes about Obama’s caving on the temporary tax cut extensions for the wealthy, I was glad that, no less than Chris Matthews and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, brought up the subject of the working class and the working poor and Obama’s mention of them in his press conference where he outlined the rationale for his compromise and, in doing so, royally pissed off the ueber elite from those affluent safe constituencies.

More and more, I hear the pundits wonder why the President doesn’t do well amongst white working class males, or even amongst the rural working class, in general. The President, one-on-one before these people, does fine. It’s the rest of the people who’v become the collective voices of the Left, the ones who give the impression that these people aren’t worth the bother, who do the damage. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, Howard Dean chomped at the bit to be able to speak to Marlboro Man of the South, who drove a pick-up, adorned with a Confederate flag and a gunrack. Dick Gephardt and John Kerry thought he’d gone mad. Books have even been written about how the Democrats can achieve by effectively writing off the South.

But just imagine the power drive and the loyalty if we invested half as much energy into putting ourselves amongst these people, speaking their language and listening to their needs as constituents and citizens as we do deriding them? Look at any small town in the South or the rural Midwest. You’ll see a Republican party headquarters staffed by local people known to all. You see a Democratic headquarters pop up every four years and staffed by eager college kids from outside the area who disappear the day after the election.

People say the middle class is in danger. I say the middle class is a myth today. If you have to work to live, you’re working class. Embrace that idea as positive, and come home to the Democratic party.

Already this year, the Left has lost James Webb to resignation and Joe Bageant to death. Virginia will miss the pair of them. As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather have one James Webb and one Joe Bageant fighting my corner than a thousand fragrant designer-clad Katrina vanden Heuvels.

38 Responses so far.

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  1. Artist50 says:

    I’ve lived in Indiana except for a brief period my entire 60 yrs so I can only give you my observations from a Republican state that voted for Obama in 08.

    I think religion plays a greater role than I am hearing about and I believe the GOP has effectively cornered that market.

    I grew up in a small Chrysler town that was booming when I was a child and everyone owned a house and could raise their kids -- all local government was Democratic and unions were king. My father was a merchant for 50 yrs and the only time business was down was when Chrysler went down. We were dependent on each other. My friends were in on the tail end of good jobs and retirements. The town is now half the size, the graduation rate is abysmal, drugs are rampant, kids leave because there are no jobs.

    These are hard-working good people who have had the rug pulled out from under them and some are moving on and many are demoralized. I went back to live there to care for my mother for 3 yrs and worked at the local hospital which truly shows you a cross-section of life. There is no future for young people. What I observed and learned is that people have given up, they don’t care enough to vote or they vote Republican even locally now, in a county that never ever went in that direction and they talk a lot about religion.

  2. choicelady says:

    Marion -- I totally agree with you except… I don’t think it’s regional but rooted in class and privilege. I’ve lived all over the country with every kind of person, and I’ve seen within communities the precise differences and distinctions you’ve named.

    When I lived back east (upstate NY, not NYC) I worked with union people from both public and private sector unions. I got sneering disregard for teaching and working with them from people in the same city who were University folks. They thought at first I was lady bountiful, do-gooder trying to uplift the po’ folks, but when they discovered I LIKED them and fought for their rights with them, I became something of an outcast within the university community. The same was true with feminists who distrusted the fact I was comfortable around the police who were working with us protecting women’s clinics. There was an embedded belief that all cops were brutes, we couldn’t trust ’em, and we were disloyal if we LIKED them.

    In Santa Cruz the same biases existed. One die-hard, radical feminist dismissed the women who were administrators within our board of study saying “Oh, they’re just secretaries.” ????????

    Yes the coastal areas tend to be Blue, but it was Iowa that had the first legislatively obtained marriage equality laws. I was born in Lincoln, NE with family in Omaha (can anyone find it on a map?) which has one of the best art museums in America and a great music and arts community. Red and blue live in Omaha in sometimes uneasy political tension -- but also as neighbors who bring covered dishes when you’re sick.

    I’ve never been harmed by a person of color but have knives sticking out of my shoulderblades put there by elitist white people (male and female) from both coasts AND the Midwest. I can lay it to massive narcissism, elitism, and classism more than absolutely any other factors.

    People ARE pretty much the same everywhere which means most are OK to great with a few complete idiots tucked in somewhere along the line. The Dems did throw blue collar people under the bus, but I watched that same thing happen in England when the Labour Party met in 1996. Tony Blair said to the unions, in his acceptance speech as PM candidate, well, sorry chaps, but the new world order demands of us that while we are the Labour Party, we can’t be tied to labour anymore. Thanks and ta-ta.

    Every time I meet with a progressive group in CA, I see the same divisions. White collar vs.blue collar, rich snotty liberals vs. people living on the margins, successful sycophants vs. people with real ideas, party hacks vs. reformers. Some of it is beginning to change. The Blue Green Coalition of steelworkers and environmentalists is making some difference as is the Apollo Alliance made up of much the same. But the ruling elites still rule. That might have something to do with why so little ever changes.

    But the massive upheavals in WI, OH, MI, IN, IA and now around the country are restoring our sense of common good. For example, see next Monday’s nationwide April 4 anniversary of Rev. King’s death and the thousands of actions in honor of working people as a HUGE return to our senses! We will always have the snotty self promoters who think they rule the world, but we are beginning to remember who we are -- one people, under siege, reclaiming liberty and justice for all.

    And not a moment too soon.

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    This article, especially about how the Repubs do so much better of a PR job in the South, reminds me of that great book, “The Ugly American”, which talked about how the U.S. was losing, or in danger of losing, the Cold War because our diplomacy was so much worse than the Russians. According to the book, the Russians always sent ambassadors and diplomats and other overseas personnel who were fluent in the language, versed in the customs, polished, gracious, etc., while the Americans sent English speaking , culturally clueless types who alienated the locals, even though they had better things to offer. The “charm offensive” of the Russians, and the homework they did in areas where they wanted to expand their influence and export their ideology, paid benefits, and even got people to act in ways not in their best interests.

    • choicelady says:

      I was in Poland as one of two Americans in a large group of Poles, Brits, Germans, and Spanish people. We were having our farewell dinner in a GREAT restaurant when a tour bus of retired Americans entered. One man began demanding ICE WATER (always a bad move in Krakow where heavy metals and hepatitis A abound). He spoke VERY LOUDLY so the stupid Polish server would, of course, understand him. She was also the owner, but remained remarkably patient. She understood him perfectly and brought him what he desired.

      It was at that point I wanted to hum a few bars of “O, Canada” or crawl under the table. Honestly -- what freaking stereotypes! It is reinforced by the language guides. Try to find one that teaches you to say -- “This is delicious, thank you! This is beautiful! The scenery is magnificent!” Nope -- they teach you to piss, whine, complain, and file charges. Not one language guide I own has a kind word about anyone or anything.

      No wonder we’re ugly Americans. Even our guide books are rude!

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Wow, c-lady, that’s amazing about the language guides. I’ve been involved in the creation of several here in Japan, and we ALWAYS make sure it has things like “This is delicious” (for beginners) and “my compliments to the chef!” (for those who want to put a little pizazz while having their pizzas. In Japan that’s a no-brainer.

        • choicelady says:

          WTS -- you may single handedly have saved international good will! I cannot find ONE thoughtful comment in any of the language guides for Eastern Europe, and the overall travel guide is full of dire warnings of disease, weird food, crime, assault, tricks (well, OK one warning WAS useful), but never EVER about the kindness of the people, the wonderfulness of the food even in the simplest restaurants, the cleanliness, the beauty of the countryside.

          Your contributions to world peace are beyond calculating! Thank you for helping Americans be less ugly. Of course you can’t help how they were brought up, but you gave them the tools for being polite. MUCH appreciated!

          • whatsthatsound says:

            c-lady, my “contributions”, such as they may be, are to yours as but a fingernail to a hand, but I do appreciate the compliment!

          • Artist50 says:

            CL -- I don’t know what your job is but it sounds fascinating and I think you should write a book! If I wasn’t so old I’d want to be your aide and follow you around the world!!

  4. KillgoreTrout says:

    I’ve lived and worked on both coasts. I lived in San Diego county for nearly 6 years, and before that lived in Boston for about 8 years. I was born and raised in Eastern Ohio across the Ohio River from West Virginia.
    I also lived for a year in Vancouver, Wa. and three years in Jacksonville NC. I have found that people don’t really vary much from place to place. I am a layman and didn’t work much with many college educated people, except for electronic engineers.
    Yes, people in the Boston area are, for the most part, liberals. But there is a weird strain of old Puritanism among the people there. And a large Irish influence.
    In NC, I was in the military then and knew and worked with people from all over the country. I was in the Marines, so “rednecks,” were plentiful. I thought most of the people I knew that were North Carolinians were pretty decent people. Although not many Jacksonville residents were very fond of Marines.
    In Southern California, once again, I knew and worked with people from all parts of America, and Mexico. Hardly anyone I knew was actually born and raised in California. I was also quite surprised that So Cal was not nearly as liberal as I thought it would be. I moved to Cal from Boston and there definitely was some culture shock.
    Vancouver, WA had it’s share of, “backwoods folks.” Most of them very nice, some not.
    I think it’s difficult to pin down any single area of the country and say they are this, or they are that.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      KT, are you from Cambridge, OH? I’ve spent a lot of time there.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        wts, no, further East. Steubenville, Ohio. It’s on the Ohio river, across from West Virginia. I haven’t lived there for nearly 40 years. It’s an old steel producing town. Now they produce just a fraction of what they did prior to the 1970s. I am in Columbus, Ohio. Since 89.
        I think there are more rednecks here than any other place I’ve lived.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Steubenville! Know it!
          Columbus I was born and raised in. We seem to have a lot of Columbusites, former ones, or people from Ohio on this site.
          There is
          you,
          me
          boomer
          kes
          and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard some others mention they are from or living in Ohio.
          I hear you about the rednecks. It’s kind of the Capitol City of Redneckistan, since W.Va and Kentucky don’t have any really large cities. NOW I know why you played that Skynyrd vid! (one of my favorites)

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            Yeah, growing up in Steubenville was a trip. I didn’t know how backward that town was, until I moved to Boston.
            When I lived in NC, I thought Steubenville was pretty hip. Being a semi-yankee, I was not used to southern ways. But the North Carolinians were pretty laid back people. Many of them quite nice.
            A lot of people from Appalachia moved to Columbus in hopes of a better living.
            I grew up in the 60s and there were actually elements of the counter-culture in my little town. Nothing like the full blown culture in California or New York, but I had some very interesting times in Steubenville.

  5. Chernynkaya says:

    They’re not stupid, they reasoned, although they reckoned “those Washington people” had them pegged as such. They knew damned well that both parties treated them, positively, as potential votes in an election year and, negatively, as nuisance constituents any other time; but they at least saw the Republican candidates for office when the time came, and other times, they knew the operatives the GOP sent amongst them as local people who spoke their language – used their vocabulary and dialect and sounded like them. That’s probably why the anomaly of a nice Jewish boy like Eric Cantor, with a broad Tidewater Virginia drawl and the drawn out courtesy culture in which we were all raised (“Yes, sir” and “No ma’am”) is able to represent a largely rural constituency in the Shenandoah Valley, each of whom could probably count on one hand the number of Jewish people they’ve known in their lives, and that ONE person would be Eric Cantor.

    That does sound stupid, though. Profoundly so. Nobody thinks they’re stupid but when they act stupid, what else to conclude?

  6. Crazy Cat Lady says:

    Joe Bageant was a great voice in the wilderness, and I am going to miss him. We have far to few of his kind: a smart Bubba who didn’t turn his back on his background, but who spoke up for the people around him and their suffering, without ignoring their many flaws.

    Both parties have thrown the working class under the bus, for the most part. Individual politicians will occasionally try to bring it up, but if they start getting anywhere, they are accused of ‘class warfare’ and ‘socialism’. The powers that be(the wealthy elite) do everything they can to keep people divided into parties, red vs. blue, North vs South, coasts vs. middle America, black vs white, white collar vs blue collar. Anything to keep the masses from joining forces against the people who use them up, rob them blind and throw them away without a second thought.

  7. Buddy McCue says:

    Good ol’ Joe Bageant!

    I’m gonna miss him. I will have to go back and revisit his blog to read the essays that I’ve missed.
    http://www.joebageant.com/

    He was a true authentic voice of the working-class South. I loved his book “Deer Hunting With Jesus.” What a great writer. What a sincere guy.

    Goodbye Joe; we hardly knew ye.

  8. I am appalled. This is one big ad hominem attack after another generalization after another.

    • kesmarn says:

      Probably to your great astonishment, 2CCP, I’m gonna say: I hear you!

      :-)

    • BigDogMom says:

      2CCP, 6:00 in the morning here, what the heck time is it where you are? How are you?

      • It’s 3:20 in the morning here, Mom.

        Being a welfare queen, there isn’t a lot of reason to keep a so-called “normal” schedule.

        And I am very sick and tired at the moment.

        But then again, as one of the “Coastal Elites” I probably don’t have feelings anyone else here can relate to. I am taking a few days off of this. I don’t think I can take much more of this.

        • BigDogMom says:

          @2CCP, I understand, been backing off from the news myself, have a cold and feel lousy, but couldn’t sleep because I slept all day yesterday…take care of yourself, talk soon.

          • Abbyrose86 says:

            Hi BDM, I am with both you and 2CCP…I’m very discouraged and as such have been staying away from alot.

            I hope you feel better BDM!

            • BigDogMom says:

              Thanks Abby, trying to muster up enough strength to take the dog for a walk…poor thing didn’t get walked yesterday.

  9. BigDogMom says:

    Marion you seem to have issues with “Coastal Elites” in the Democrat party and use generalizations for those of us who live on either coast as you say we do for southerners. This theme seems to run through most of your posts.

    I understand that you are a proud Virginian, my mother was one. I spent nearly every summer until age 18, in the hills of Wise, VA. I know those people you describe in your post, they are my family, I understand their culture and their heritage. But I have also lived the bulk my life on the Northeast Coast, and I understand their heritage and culture also.

    So I guess you can say I have “dual citizenship”, one part of me holds my southern roots close to my heart and the other part of me is “Yankee” thru and thru…and with this duality, I can see both sides of the story you are trying to tell.

    What you think we up here in the North think or say about the South, is not the case, you equate us on the level of a HuffPo poster bashing a troll on a Hayley Barbour thread. I could make the case that most of the Southerners that I know, my family, look at Northerners with suspicion and contempt, but what good does that do?

    What difference does that make?

    Making generalizations about any group brings nothing to the table and only divides us further apart and makes room for more Republicans like Scott Walker and John Kuscich to step in.

    • Marion says:

      Read the books I cited. I’m not making generalisations. And I don’t have to justify my liberal credentials, not those of the authors of the books in question.

      I’m sorry, but it’s a known fact. The reformed Democratic party threw its real base under the political bus 40 years ago as if they were bits of rubbish thrown out a car window. Most of the talking head pundits who purport to be from the Left wouldn’t go within spitting distance of the rural poor or the working poor for fear of getting cooties. Huffington, vanden Heuvel, Bill Maher … these people think this demographic an embarrassment.

      And whilst you’re looking up those books to read, try Laura Flanders’s “Blue Grit.” She gets it.

      Sorry, if I struck a nerve -- maybe it needed to be struck.

      • BigDogMom says:

        Marion, so reading it in a book makes it true?

        I understand the history of the Democrat Party, but to equate ALL who live in the “Coastal Elite” areas of this country with the talking head pundits on the left is a bit over the top.

        That we who actually live and work on either coast would never get within spitting distance of the rural or working poor is disingenious and lazy thinking.

        When was the last time that you volunteered at a voter registration event in the worst inner city in the Northeast or east L.A.? Yep, lot’s of blacks and Hispanics…where you have to explain their rights to them because no one ever bothered to that.

        Or was put behind a chain link fence in NYC while protesting the Iraq war, because President Bush might be offended?

        What about teaching Hispanic immigrants English so that they can get a better job or not be taken advantage of by their current employer?

        Have you ever worked two jobs to make ends meet? Do you have healthcare, because I don’t, can’t afford it right now.

        Do you believe all that live on the Coasts don’t work hard that only “rednecks” do?

        In fact, when was the last time you were even in this country and have seen what goes on day to day on the streets and rural towns?

        Reading, watching TV pundits and believing what people post on HuffPo gives one a very limited view of the real world.

        If you have an issue with Liberal TV pundits, then say so, but please don’t lump ALL of US in with them.

        Are your liberal creds any more or less than mine? Who the fuck cares, do we want the same thing? I hope so…

        (And please do not include Ariana in that list, because we all know that she never was, nor will she ever be a true liberal, she’s an opportunist plain and simple)

      • Buddy McCue says:

        I know what you mean about people who purport to be from the Left who wouldn’t go within spitting distance of the rural poor or the working poor!

        I certainly ran across plenty of them at the Huffington Post. To many of these people, the words “stupid” and and “Southern” were synonyms. Oftentimes when a politician or a public figure said something unintelligent, there would be a comment like “Uh oh! I hear banjos!” EVEN IF the public figure in question didn’t even come from the South at all.

        I responded to one of these; it was in regard to Sarah Palin. She said something dumb, so a Blue State Liberal had to make a comment about the song Dueling Banjos. I replied that Sarah Palin was from Alaska, and as far as I knew, Alaska isn’t even known for its banjo music.

        I was told to “get a sense of humor” of course, but hey! I play a banjo myself. It’s a fine instrument, and there’s no shame in it, or for eating grits or collard greens for that matter.

        How do these people call themselves “liberal” when they make attacks on regional culture for no apparent reason other than the fact that it’s fun to do it? It’s not very liberal to adopt the philosophy of a scale of human worth based on the whereabouts of one’s birth.

        I suspect that a lot of Blue State people who vote Democratic do so for the same reason that so many Red States people vote Republican. It’s just the default position. Most people just want to do and say and think what others around them do. Most people don’t want to stand out and swim against the flow.

        I suspect that for many of these self-described “liberals” from Blue areas, voting Democratic is more about social inertia than it is about really believing in liberal values.

        (Obviously, I’m not talking about everybody from these areas, so I hope I’m not accused of making blanket accusations. That is not my intent.)

        • coffeegod says:

          I’ve lived in Mississippi far longer than I ever anticipated. I’ve tried to escape and thus far, it hasn’t worked. I’ll keep trying and perhaps I shall get it right eventually.

          I remember a time only a few decades ago when this scenario would have played out: Jesus and Lucifer decided to go into politics. They both ran for governor of Mississippi Jesus went republican, Lucifer went democrat. Lucifer won by a landslide. Reason? ‘My daddy was a democrat, his daddy before him was a democrat so I’m a democrat.’

          My, how times have changed.

        • BigDogMom says:

          Ah, Buddy, but you did make blanket accusations…

          It’s not very liberal to adopt the philosophy of a scale of human worth based on the whereabouts of one’s birth.

          I suspect that a lot of Blue State people who vote Democratic do so for the same reason that so many Red States people vote Republican. It’s just the default position. Most people just want to do and say and think what others around them do. Most people don’t want to stand out and swim against the flow.

          I suspect that for many of these self-described “liberals” from Blue areas, voting Democratic is more about social inertia than it is about really believing in liberal values.

          Please don’t make a generalization that those of us in “Blue areas” vote democratic because of “social inertia”, that our “liberal creds” are in question. What you don’t think we get down and dirty, that all we do is sit in our comfy libraries or in Malibu and pontificate on how the world should be?

          Making generalizations whether blue or red, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican is a lazy way of making a political point.

          And Marion needs to stop equating what the liberal pudnuts on TV say and do to those of us who live in the “Coastal Elite” areas say and do…

          • Buddy McCue says:

            Notice that I’m careful to include qualifiers in my statements, saying “many of,” or “a lot of.” I do this in order to avoid blanket statements.

            Making generalizations certainly is lazy, but I’m not lazy.

            I stand by the things I’ve said. When I talk about so many people coming from a default position, or about social inertia, I am speaking of real forces that are greatly proven by real evidence.

            If such things did not exist, if most people were independent thinkers who were not swayed by regional opinions, then it would not be possible to paint broad areas of the map red or blue. It would be quite evenly purple.

            If people were not influenced by the others in their region, there would not be typical regional differences, or regional dialects. If group behavior did not influence the individual mind, there would not exist fads or fashions. Market research based on demographics would consistently fail.

            But it doesn’t. It succeeds. Why? Because individuals tend NOT to be independent thinkers. That’s an ugly truth to be sure, and I hesitate to spell that out so explicitly.

            However, there ARE many independently-minded people who CAN make up their own minds about what they believe. I know that I am such a person, and I think you are too.

            Personally, I’m glad that Planet POV has so many people like that. It makes this a nicer place to be than some other places I can think of.

            • BigDogMom says:

              @Buddy, registered independents outnumber registered Dems or Republicans in many counties along the coast, the State of Vermont having the highest number.

              Up here we vote for the candidate and platform, not the party, but that has been changing since the Republicans have gone off on their social issue thing the last ten years, that doesn’t sit well up here.

              In response to you not mentioning “All Northerners” you where responding to Marion’s evil “Coastal Elites” which means the North Coast and the West Coast. I was defending the North..and by the way, where are the most “Blue States”?

              The North…

              Buddy, I really don’t to get into a pissing match with you, the North, South, Middle and West all have cultural differences, some bad and a lot of them good…making he said, she said out of these differences does none of us any good.

              (But just to let you know…I am a proud Yankee! Just like you are a proud Southerner! :smile:)

            • Buddy McCue says:

              The statements “Independents out number Dems or Repubs,” and “We are blue because we believe in the Democrat party platform” contradict one another.

              And I surely never said anything about “All Northerners,” nor would I.

            • BigDogMom says:

              Buddy you need to spend some time in New England and or NYC to see that many here are not influenced, at least politically, by “group think”.

              Being and thinking different from your neighbor has risen to an art form here.

              Independents out number Dems or Repubs. in many districts along what Marion considers the “Coastal Elite” from NYC to Boston…she should have included Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont if she really wanted to castigate all Northerners. I can’t speak for the West coast, Adlib or Char may have some insight on what goes on there.

              We are blue because we believe in the Democrat party platform, not because our friend or neighbor says to do so.

              Politics in New England is a serious business, has been since the “shot heard round the world” and the hanging of the lantern in the Old North Church.

              And to believe that what some liberal TV pundit or comedian says about the South or what some Huffpo poster writes, is the opinion of ALL NORTHERNERS, to me is a bit ridiculous.

  10. ClassicalGas says:

    Three cheers! This is an excellent article, and you have captured the scenario very well. The Democratic Party would do well to remember it’s roots as the party of the working people of the country. Thank you.

    • Classical Gas, does that mean that those of us who are still unemployed during this “recovery” should not be welcome among Democrats?

      I’m just trying to make sure I understand what you’re getting at.

      • oldpol2 says:

        Really? That is what you took away from CG’s statement? The commentary was aimed at the democratic party and it’s failure to pay attention to it’s base. It’s base has always been the working class, employed or unemployed, I will assume, based on your statement, that you see yourself as part of the working class. The failure is that of the party leaders not the citizens they have left in the dust.

        As for the commentary, I enjoyed it.Our roots go deep in the south. My family was some of the earliest settlers in the late 1700’s in Louden County, VA (now West VA)and my husbands family were Scots from Iredell County, No Carolina. We now are left coasters in the Pacific Northwest. We still feel the pull of our ancestors lives in the south, and they ,like we, were working folk.

        It is important for the party and the people who believe they are part of the party understand how we make people feel.I think the Dems have forgotten the working man, no matter where he’s from. There are too many connections to Wall Street and big business and I include our current administration in that observation. Too many now in the administration read like a who’s who of Wall St, the FED and the big banks.

        Marion, the working man of all areas feel abandoned by the Dems and have for a long time. The greatest thing we can do for each other is refuse to let any of them use wedge issues and stick together.

        • bito says:

          FDR’s cabinet and advisors were a “Who’s Who” of Wall St. …. also. The “dollar a year men,” remember?

          the working man of all areas feel abandoned by the Dems and have for a long time.

          ?
          Really? Wonder if I should even vote next time? I look at what is going on in the Midwest and I don’t see many D’s voting to strip education, the social programs and workers rights, looks like mostly R’s.

          • oldpol2 says:

            While you quote history I would guess you are not old enough to remember where the center was in this country over the last 40 years. This country has been pulled further and further right for those 40 years. Those you consider far left now are in truth republican light.

            I would also point out the FDR and his cabinet had sense enough to regulate the out of control wall street and generate work for the unemployed. Our current pols have made half hearted attempts and have been rewarded with half-assed results.


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