Put me down as a proud purple-stater. I like guns, but I hate
country music. I love burnt-ends sandwiches, but I despise chewing
tobacco. I agree that Waffle House makes the breakfast food of the
gods, but I loathe fundamentalists. I not uncommonly use “y’all”
rather than “you” for the second person plural because it’s clearer,
but I assume people who use “y’all” for the second person
singular really are dumb hicks.
Demography is not destiny. I was born in the Yankee heart of
Boston, I went to an Ivy League university, I’m a fluent writer and
speaker, every house I’ve lived in in the U.S. has been within a
hundred miles of the Atlantic, and I’ve never had a manual-labor job
in my life. By all that’s stereotyped I ought to be a member in good
standing of the chattering classes and the tribe of fuzzy-sweater
liberals, sucking up NPR and voting for Kerry like all decent
blue-staters were supposed to.
I’m not quite sure how I escaped this fate. It wasn’t by becoming
a conservative, oh dear no. I’m a radical Wiccan anarchist with a
sexual style that your average red-stater wouldn’t even know the right
words to describe (yes, I’ve checked). Right-wingers appall me
— most are so narrow-minded that they don’t even have a prayer
of understanding how narrow-minded they are. They live inside cages
and never see the bars.
So instead of repudiating my blue-state pedigree by turning into
some sort of repellant young-conservative lizardoid, I grew into
someone half-blue, half-red. My wife Cathy thinks my father’s
influence had a lot to do with that, and she’s probably got a point.
He grew up hardscrabble poor in the red counties of rural central
Pennsylvania during the Great Depression, clawed his way out to a
profession in coastal blue-land with drive and brains, and married an
upper-class girl with the looks of a movie star. Men like that don’t
fall for easy, comfortable answers in politics or anywhere else.
Among the traits I inherited from him are a contrarian streak, a
studied and stubborn refusal to fit into anyone’s tidy categories, and
some bedrock respect for red-state virtues.
Iowahawk ends his brilliant satire with the line “After the toilet
backed up, I think he got my point”. Whether intentionally or not, he
perfectly illustrates the single most important advantage of red-state
culture and politics. It’s an advantage my father understood, and he
passed that understanding on to me.
Here it is: your average red-state prole’s world-view may be
strangely cramped, and is too often shot through with bizarre and ugly
superstitions like creationism — but within his limits he
is in contact with reality. On the other hand, your average
elite blue-stater — insulated by wealth and a complacent
mainstream media and thick layers of theoretical artifice —
understands everything except reality. Which is great if
what you need is irony or wit or skilled navigation through a maze of
social constructions, but not so useful when you need a toilet
There’s nothing new about this dance. Aristocrats and yeomen have
been doing it since the days when Sumer was the new kid on the block.
The anti-red-state squawking now being emitted by blue-state pundits
in the wake of Kerry’s defeat can be summed up as a fearful cry of
“The peasants are revolting!” It isn’t really about political
geography but about class and class snobbery.
And you know what? Class snobbery pisses me off, especially when
the people peddling it are vapid ninnies whose smugness about their own
sophistication doesn’t conceal their complete failure to get a grip
on reality. Apparently it pisses off Iowahawk too — his satire
doesn’t conceal a dark delight in the thought of all those blue-state
aristo parents wringing their hands.
So, even though I’ll never be one of them, my response to
Iowahawk’s satire is to root for the Neckies. Being one of them by
birth myself, I have long since taken the measure of the blue-state
elite. They’re more interesting to hang with, they tell better jokes,
they understand all the finer things in life — and it’s past
time for this country’s Y’alls to be rubbing their noses in the fact
that they’re mostly full of shit.