When the Big Tent Sucks

I don’t like Republicans. I never have. I was raised to think of them as the social and political enemy of my kind, the Democrats, but just because I’m not fond of all Republicans in general, doesn’t mean I extend a blanketed tolerance to all things and all people Democratic.

Sometimes, the Big Tent can become claustrophobic to the point that I want to smack someone, like this morning.

Charlie Pierce writes in his Politics Blog:-

There was great trembling abroad in the land on Sunday when the Des Moines Register published its latest poll of the various Bible-banging rubes, Grant Wood zombies, and other caucusing Caucasians that the country has to pretend to take seriously once every four years.

He was talking about the home stretch of the time before caucus/primary time begins for the Republican Party, of course; but Pierce’s choice of words literally made me vomit in my mouth. This is a guy who sits on his reputation (literally) as a clever and incisive sports-cum-political journalist, but for such a savvy wordsmith, his choice of vocabulary in referring to the people who happen to live in Iowa was neither clever, cute nor constructive.

It was insulting in the worst kind of way, and – more than that – it was endemic of the sort of snide, superior, Coastal elitism for which the Democratic party and the Left are often derided.

Pierce is not the only person guilty of this. People of his ilk (read Joan Walsh, Bill Maher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Keith Olbermann and assorted others) often speak derisively of people who live in rural neighbourhoods and small towns found in the agrarian Midwest and the South, areas otherwise known to them as “flyover” or “shitkicker” country.

Yes, we’re all Bible-thumping, fundamentalist, shit-kicking inbred, racist, homophobic Caucasian rubes.

Except, mostly, we’re not, but it’s a pity and a shame that we all can’t be East or West Coast Irish Catholic sophisticates, especially the variety who either consign President Obama to the realm of the racist comment thinly disguised as comedy as Pierce has done, as well as those sophisticates, Bill Maher and Michael Moore. It’s pretty sad that none of us rubes can even pretend to impart such common sense rhetoric as Joan Walsh, even though we don’t resent people of color, although it behooves the Walshes and Pierces of this world to think as much. They prefer to think of us as having sprung from the loins of George Wallace’s Democratic Party, when they would excoriate us for even assuming that they burst forth, fully clad in Celtic armour, from the forehead of Father Coughlin.

People like Pierce need to remember that rube-haven Iowa recognizes same-sex marriage, like his hallowed ground of Massachusetts. People like Pierce want to remember that Douglas Wilder was the first elected African-American governor in the United States, in Virginia, when Derval Patrick was still in school someplace, and that, in the Commonwealth (of Virginia, mind you), when we speak of “the Governor,” we don’t mean Sponge-Bob-Square-Pants McDonnell, who’s part of Charlie’s tribe. People like Pierce really want to remember that Bill Clinton’s Scots-Irish (as in PRODDY, Charlie) antecedents hail from rube-seeded, shit-kickin’ Hope, Arkansas; and that if Charlie’s and Bill’s people hadn’t left the Old Country, they’d have grown up lobbing rocks and other more dangerous objects at each other down the Falls Road, in Belfast.

Sometimes the Big Tent gets do damned claustrophic and over-heated, that it’s mete some people take a walk outside for a breath of fresh air; and since my claim to America starts with Pocahontas, I reserve the right to tell Charlie Pierce to fuck off in his prejudicial assumptions.

Edited by Wendy Gittleson