There is a map of last week's election results. Counties where Bush won are colored red, and counties where Kerry won are colored blue. When you look at the map you see wide field of red with a little bit of blue on the east and west edges. The difference is striking. If you're a liberal, the map can be frightening.
The left may be frightened, but their fright does not excuse their insults. They saw this sea of red and proclaimed that Bush won the election because middle America is full of stupid, ignorant, snake handling, racist trailer trash. A more polite1 summation of the neolib viewpoint can be found in Jane Smiley's Slate column entitled "The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States"
Rather than learn from his mistakes at the polls, the American leftist seeks to increase the polarization of society. He sees himself as the intelligent, educated, enlightened sophisticate. What cheaper tactic is there than to portray your opponent as your exact opposite in every way? But it simply is not true. Rural America is not the cesspool of inbred racism that the intellectual elite would have you believe.
I am from rural America. I was born there and I was raised there. Alhough I grew up outside the farm, it was in a tiny down surrounded by a sea of agriculture. I was a member of the Future Farmers of America in high school. I've stomped across manure laden pastures in cowboy boots. I've no illusions as to the origin of veal. Although I've since moved away from it, rural America is still a part of me.
Rural and urban America have different cultures. But they are not so different as many would have you believe. People should be celebrating this diversity, but all too many would use it as a wedge to divide us.2
Rural America is neither smarter nor dumber than urban America. Intelligence is not a trait determined by where you were born. Intelligence is distributed evenly along a bell curve based on genetics. The intellectual elite should know better than to resort to Lamarckian theory when they consign rural America to a permanent neanderthal status.
Farming is not an occupation for the stupid. Neither is ranching. Nor dairying. More mathematics is required for one day of farming than an entire career of literary criticism. The urbanite might joke about their "pointy headed boss", but a rancher is his own boss with his own business who can't afford the luxury of the Peter Principle. Most dairies are more networked than urban law offices.
The CNN exit polls broke down the results into lots of nice categories for the blogsters to play with. I don't put a lot of stock in exit polls, but the section on education was interesting, if only because it ran counter to the common liberal assertion. Surprise! Kerry won the high school dropout vote! It was Bush that had the solid lock on two and four year college degrees. By these polls, if the hayseed yokels of middle America really were uneducated bumpkins, then Kerry would have won.
Rural America has schools that are envied by the urban elite. It is dotted with the finest universities. Where I grew up in rural America I was within a forty five minute drive from three junior colleges, a prestigious private college, and a major university. Four generations on my mother's side, all people the left would call "hicks", had college degrees.
It is true that rural America is more religious than urban America. But this is only an evil to the leftists, who have replaced traditional American religious tolerance with the doctrine of exlusionary secularism. The absence of religion in all aspects of other people's daily lives is seen as social progress. The left will allow you to be religious so long as you do not elevate your god higher than the god of the secular state. Thus we see the frequency of liberal Catholic politicians who proudly proclaim that their deeply held beliefs have no power over their everyday life.
In my home town growing up there were twelve churches. But there were no snake handlers or fire walkers. Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Mennonites, Baptists, and Bhuddists played and worked together. There was no religious strife at school. When the Pledge of Allegience was said no one paid any attention that the Jehovah Witnesses remained seated. I moved to urban America several years ago, and I found it's quite irreligious. Its not that there's necessarily fewer people of faith here, it's that the people seem to be too busy hustling to and fro making money to stop for a few hours to give thanks for it.
The left would have you believe that this abundance of faith in America's heartland is a threat. It most certainly is not! The theology of authoritarianism is quite rare in rural America. Remember, it was members of Christian churches that came up with the concept of religious tolerance. There is religious tolerance in the heartland of America like nowhere else on Earth! There are Hindu temples in Kansas, and no one in Kansas has a problem with it. There are Wiccan temples in Texas, and the most grief they ever see is a few clucking tongues. It's not a perfect paradise out in middle America, but neither is it the Hades the left would have you think. In many ways, the rural plains of Kansas and Texas are more tolerant than the campuses of Berkeley and Yale.
Despite the aspersions of the left, rural America is most certainly not a cesspool of bigotry. Heck, it's bigoted of them to even suggest such a thing! Just like every other locale, even San Fransisco or Boston, we had our occasional racist. But it was nowhere near as common as the left would have you believe. The Hollywood-style racism portrayed in movies died out in my home town back in the fifties and sixties. When we found bigotry we made sure it was not welcome. We ran it out of town. Maybe we were the exceptions, but I don't think so.
While I'm sure there are still pockets of virulant racism in the deep south, it's an attitude that is rapidly disappearing across the land. In my home town whites, blacks, hispanics and asians all lived, played and worked together. My best friend in elementary school was chinese and he married his high school hispanic sweetheart. I dated a japanese girl. No one cared.
I have never understood the intellectual elite's disgust for the inhabitants of trailer parks. I would suspect their loathing stems from a base arrogance and classism, if it weren't for their insistance that they're above such things. Mobile homes are nice dwellings. They're inexpensive but spacious. But I guess they're just too "common" for the left living in exclusive university neighborhoods.
People in rural America do joke with their neighbors living in trailers. We do use the term "trailer trash". But it's all in good fun. We poke similar fun at those driving the "wrong" pickup truck, or rooting for the "wrong" football team. My grandparents lived in a very nice mobile home. I have several dear friends who do as well.
I think I know why the left hates trailer parks. They remind them that not everyone in America looks to them for intellectual and political leadership. Thus they are symbols of the unforgivable sin.