In 2000, we got a glimpse into the urban/rural cultural divide in this country when an unvetted Texan Governor (all be it with a politically connected name) “aw shucked” his way into the White House, defeating a sitting Vice President/former senator, who’s intellect and grasp of the issues of the day were far more superior.
In 2004, we went from a glimpse into the American cultural divide to an IMAX view. The red states vs. the blue states; city vs. country, urban vs. rural, the pretentiousness of intellect and rationalism vs. the virtue stubborn conviction and gut instinct. A Purple Heart war hero was defeated by an “aw shucks” incumbent that went AWOL during the Vietnam War and his running mate who received five deferments to avoid service in that very same war…There victory was won bearing in mind that they were mismanaging a current war that (by most accounts) they manipulated us into fighting.
Now, in 2008 the candidacy of Sen. Barak Obama has forced us to take a high-definition look at this divide. The red state/blue state battles going on within each red state and blue state. The civil culture war that’s being waged in communities, on radio and television.
“What on earth is he talking about?” you may ask. Well, to put it simply this war is for the prototypical definition of an American. What does a Real American look like, sound like, act like, eat, wear and drive? How does a Real American think? What kind of job does he or she have? Where do Real Americans live? What religion do they belong to? Are real Americans educated? What sports do they play?… The questions are endless, but as we put answers to the questions will you fit the mold of a “Real American”?
It started shortly before the democratic Pennsylvania primary. Karl Rove hinted at a strategy for attacking Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton’s campaign jumped on it. Elitism was the charge against Sen. Obama. Look at this Columbia University/Harvard University magna cum laude lawyer with his Princeton lawyer wife and two well-groomed kids and nice house in a Chicago suburb. At one time, the Obama family would serve as the quintessential example of “The American Dream” (barring their color). Now, something had changed. Obama’s success made him somehow less American to many. True, it was one part his ethnicity, but the other part of it was that red state phobia of the urbane.
Shortly after the media became fixated on why Obama wasn’t connecting with rural voters. The term rural voters soon began to be interchanged with “hard working Americans” and that became interchangeable with “white voters”. On a number of occasions, media pundits would accidentally use “hard working Americans” and whites in succession in the same sentence. That syntax makes it apparent that when you think of a hard-working American, think of a white man…
I’ll be blogging on this subject and I’d love your thoughts on weather or not you think you’d be considered a “Real American” if you answered the above questions... For now, to start the discussion here's the link to an interesting article by Tim Wise on white privilege at http://www.timwise.org/ (he's white by, the way).