Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What The Obama Bitter Flap Tells us About Our Politics

I have been watching the flap over Barak Obama's gaffe in describing some people as bitter and clinging to guns, religion, and anti-immigration in the face of tough economic times. And it surely was a gaffe, as sure as it would have been for him to say "We've got the black vote wrapped up, so we really don't have to worry too much about it. I mean what are they going to do, vote Republican?" There are truths one simply does not speak, and he should have known better.

But the amazing thing about it to me is that in the many, many comments I've seen, be they in the oral, written, or blogged press, no one seems willing to accept this reality. Sure, slap Obama around for his mistake, but the mistake was in the uttering of it, not the belief. Obama is not an elitist for daring to suggest that underpaid, overworked, high school dropout country bumpkins might be a bit pissed off about their lot in life, and lacking the necessary cognitive skills to reason out why, pray to their gods while they shoot at targets with Mexicans painted on them.

If recognizing that makes one an elitist, so be it. Obama should watch his language, but I don't have to, so let's get this out in the open right now. Ever spend much time in the country? I have. You ever see those movie and TV plots where the city guy goes into the country and finds that the people there are a lot more intelligent than he thought they were? They just had a different kind of intelligence, kind of folksy and down to earth? Well, it's a load of crap.

Oh sure, country folks have their virtues. A lot of them work harder than I've ever worked, and they've got your back like no one else. The bullshit factor is pretty low, and a helluva lot of them are willing to go die for the rest of us, and for that and that alone they deserve respect. I'd rather spend time with a cowhand any day than a slicked-back frat rat who thinks he's superior to me because I earned my wealth while he inherited his.

But intellect? Sorry, there's a reason the smart country kids end up migrating to the city when they don't inherit the family business. There's little for them in the sticks, where the biggest building in town is the church, and society stops on Friday nights in the fall to watch a little controlled teen violence on the gridiron. They think prayer counts as action and don't think they came from no monkeys. They know America is the greatest country in the world, except for all those damned foreigners coming here who don't even speak American good. Of course, they've never been anywhere, but rest assured, they know all about the rest of the world, or so they bullshit themselves.

Let's not bullshit each other. A big reason this country is going down the crapper is because our politics revolve around pleasing this immense population of hayseeds whose bullets are bigger than their brains and who get their morality from 2,000 year old sheepherders. And yes, they blame foreigners for their problems. One thing that really amazed me in my country travels was the obsession with the three F's: foreign aid, faggots and farts. And now that their immigrant ancestors have established themselves here, to hell with anyone else's immigrant parents wanting to do the same.

But do we recognize this? Nah. Instead, we have a media which labels any politician with brains an elitist, and accuses anyone who thinks in complete thoughts rather than short soundbites of waffling or being esoteric. Why? Because long complicated answers are too much for the double-digit IQ crowd, and they dislike politicians who communicate that way. Their ministers tell them that they can understand all things because The Great Designer says so, and they believe the minister, and reject all ideas they cannot immediately grasp as "book smarts" that conflict with common sense. And the media caters to this POV because idiot TV viewers like shows that validate their idiot thoughts. Thus we get The View, Bill O'Reilly, and Answers in Genesis.

That, my fellow Americans, is how you get a president like the one we have, and candidates like most of them have been. It is said that America gets the politicians it deserves. I believe it more every day. If we punish politicians for daring to utter unpleasant truths, in too damned many big words, and keep only the guys that say things short and stupid (like "freedom requires religion"), then we will again, be getting the politicians we deserve.


Luke H. said...

Well, I live in small town NC on the fringes of the country. There are a lot of decent folks around here, and more than a few colorful characters. I think you are being unduly harsh, but my first reaction to Obama's comments were "So? Did he say something that wasn't true?". I know some people, a noisy minority, that he described perfectly.
I also have also noted a media or societal tendency to make all quantifiers universal. He was talking about some people in blue-collar-small-town Pennsylvania, not all of them, but such subtleties are apparently too complicated.

ScienceAvenger said...

I agree antirely Luke. The media has come to reflect the public at large, which has always had time grasping any proportion other than 0%, 100%, and 50/50. General trends and clear differences between group averages get ignored.