Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Why Are Republicans More "American"?

Having lived in Europe, Boston and now suburban Atlanta I have formed opinions about America. I definitely subscribe to the idea that the "red" (Republican) parts of the country are quite different from the "blue" (Democrat) in terms of jobs, values, and tolerance and respect for others (such as foreigners like myself). These words from Matthew Yglesias - albeit a bit extreme - resonate with my general impression:
Virtually all of the globally competetive sectors of the American economy, film, television, music and other media, software, financial and legal services, etc. are concentrated in Blue America. The Reddish portions of the country are living off federal subsidies, tarrif barriers, and military spending.
Yglesias is commenting on a provocative piece by Paul Waldman, in which he wonders why being a 'conservative from Texas' is a good thing while a 'liberal from Massachusetts' is not:
In today's politics, it is acceptable for Republicans to traffic in ugly stereotypes and assert outright that people who come from some areas of America are not really American.

To hear [Bush] tell it, Massachusetts is not a state now on its fourth Republican governor in a row or one with one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, as the Boston Globe recently reported, but some sort of Sodom on the Bay, with 90% tax rates, mandatory Wicca ceremonies in public schools, and an anarcho-syndicalist majority in the state legislature.
Waldman makes this prediction for the future...
But this will in coming years become very much the GOP's problem. At this point, it's hard to imagine them nominating someone for president who doesn't hail from the Old Confederacy, given the current makeup of their party and the relative power of the factions within it. As they become increasingly isolated geographically, more and more Americans will see the Republicans as the alien group that doesn't understand their lives.
... but he does not speculate why. How come it's ok to make fun of the North but "un-American" to make fun of the South?

My two cents: It is because the North (including "mainstream media") is trying to compensate for having mocked and humiliated the South in the past. Many Southerners I've met react defensively on topics like racism, poverty or "culture". I am not quite sure how this defensiveness came about, but when asked people have quoted defeat in the Civil War and the embarrassement of subsequent poverty and/or racism (the Klan or acts like the Emmett Till abduction). Northerners, sensing this defensiveness, have basically adopted a "politically correct" style of not mocking a "minority" group (the same way they try not to mock ethnic minorities). Hence Republicans can run television ads with words like these without fear of counter-attack:
Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs.

No comments: