Monday, October 06, 2008

Main Street Really Isn't That Great

I keep hearing Sarah Palin talk about bringing some Wasilla Main Street common sense to Washington D.C. Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of it. Most of the time, Main Street (or its alternatively named stand in) is pretty dead, killed by Wal-Mart or some similar big box retail stores. Main Street is a pretty depressing place full of really ignorant people.

I also understand the bitterness of small town residents. After all, I've spent all but eight years of my life in a county that could fit into the average BCS conference football stadium and still have plenty of elbow room. Actually, in stadiums like those at the universities of Michigan and Tennessee, we could invite six of our neighboring counties and have a big redneck party before filling up the stadium. At one time, places like these held all of the power. Before the two World Wars, most Americans lived in small towns and rural agrarians were able to pretty much run roughshod over the the educated and the immigrants that formed the urban minority (although if you take a look at the most powerful members of congress, small town life is still very well represented in D.C. as discussed in this article). I understand the rural bitterness. It's not all that uncommon to see a caricature of you and your neighbors up for all to see in the media and the disdain of many urbanites and suburbanites for their small-town cousins is often palpable. A lot of that disdain is often misplaced as the average city-dweller is actually just as stupid as the average country dweller. The city guy may know more about ethnic food, but the country guy probably won't starve to death should the recession turn into a depression. The Great Depression barely registered in the more rural parts of the country. Neither one of them could pick French President Sarkozy out of a lineup even if they were given a hint about the large size of his nose or explain why it was necessary to spend our grandchildren's money on the banking bailout without guaranteeing the voters a return on their investment. The probably don't even realize that we got stuck with the option to get non-voting shares in the future and that likely when we get distracted from this, banking lobbyists will quietly insure that the right to those shares is never excercised. Warren Buffett was much more intelligent in his personal banking bailout. He made sure Goldman Sachs gave him the shares with the most voting power possible. In exchange for a butt load of cash.

(Honestly, that guy should run for president. I'd vote for him. I think he's even a Democrat if I recall correctly. He could suck at every other aspect of the job, but at least he'd be able to keep us from handicapping our children's economic future for stupid crap today.)

Of course that resentment of being unfairly looked down upon is going to breed a feeling of alternative superiority just like decades of European preference for Tutsis led the Hutus to do their best to eradicate their neighbors. Luckily our small-town anger results in politicians saying stupid things about the urban elites instead of leading machete-weilding bands of rednecks to hack up those fru-fru fellows in Atlanta. We're just not poor enough yet.

And I'm not saying that someone is less worthy for having been born and chosen to remain in a rural area. I'm just saying it doesn't make them any more worthy than someone born and raised in Manhattan. There are strengths and weaknesses to both groups, and just because a person is from an area with a tendency toward a certain set of characteristics doesn't mean they're going to end up that way. After all, I'm a news-geek with liberal politics and a taste for music never heard on the radio and high-end beer.

Just don't tell me I'd be a good leader because of my small-town values.


Chris said...

Yeah, the small-town values mantra really is total political BS.

Nobody said it better than The Daily Show, of course, during their coverage of the Republican National Convention:

Chris said...

OK, so actually, watching the video back, it's a little bit insulting at times. But still pretty funny.

Julie said...

I don't think that main street really exists anymore... other than in name. Which means it's totally Ok to laugh at the Daily Show when they make fun of main street.