Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you flatter them, will the come?

In recent weeks, GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been extolling the virtues of smaller, rural and more typically conservative American towns, calling them "the real America." This divisive rhetoric isn't particularly surprising, but it's troubling because of just who is really being hurt by the faltering economy, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and a tax system that favors the richest Americans.

Here's Palin on "The Real America":



Would those be the factories that are being closed and whose workers are being sent home? Are those the teachers who are constantly belittled and degraded by the right-wing? Are those the service men and women whose absentee ballots arrive too late (or not at all) and that won't be counted this Nov. 4th?

As you may know, our good friend, Matt Streib, is biking around the country visiting sites of religious significance as part of his American Pilgrimage project. He's been through a lot of small towns over the course of the past few months, and his observations about "the real America" are saddening, moving and necessary reading for anybody who hasn't had the opportunity to bike through some of the most isolated parts of the country. Here's an excerpt:
We don’t make anything anymore. We just buy it. There are probably as many manicurists as machinists these days, as many customer service representatives as construction workers.

My grandfather always says a country that doesn’t make anything can’t survive. And he’s probably right.

What options do small towns have? Cities can adapt, becoming medical, technological, or cultural hubs. Can a town of 2,000 in the brown, barren hills of western Washington do that?

We’re seeing everything crumble and politicians appeal to small towns, talking about how great the people are. If they flatter their values, politicians hope small-towners will forget their pocketbooks. After all, when faced with a faceless fear, it’s an easy comfort to think that you’ve got it right, and the rest of the world is what’s crazy.
Matt's full post can be found here.

1 comment:

BJK said...

based on early reports, it sounds like obama's primetime slot tonight may be largely aimed at the exact demographic that palin has been trying to flatter in the divisive rallies you cite. it'll be interesting to see how he's using the time to make the case to small-town workers, because like you said, it's truly in their best interest to vote democrat.

have you read what's the matter with kansas?