Dana Loesch once noted via subtitle that “you can’t govern a country you’ve never been to”. I might add that it’d be hard for the mainstream media to cover a nation none of them understands – but that’s another article.
The easiest way to govern people that you never see, and don’t care to bother to understand, is to tell them what they really want and need. And the American Left is doing that via the notion that the great mass of Americans in largely-red “flyover land” – the expanse between the Hudson and the Sierra Madre that America’s political and major media classes regard with such frigid fear – consistently “vote against their interests” by voting Republican. The phrase “voting against their interests”, where “they” are people you don’t know, whose lives and values you don’t understand, used to remind me of a zookeeper wondering why the cats in the panther exhibit turned up their nose at Panther Chow – but that underestimates both the panthers and the zookeepers. It’s really more like the relatoinship between plantation owners and their serfs – but not that kind of plantation owner, y’understand. No, the kind that cares about his/her serfs, and wants to do right by them, and who is hurt when they, being unruly knaves, spurn his/her benificence.
And being good plantationers, they occasionally try to understand their subjects.
Of course, those attempts invariably fail – run aground on their patronizing, condescending, usually classist assumptions.
The NYTimes bestseller list first saw this phenomenon with the best-selling What’s the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Franks, in which the writer – a Kansan who fled the state for New York – prescribed a generation of Kansans (and by extension other flyover staters) becoming, or at least voting like, Ivy Leaguers.
I personally saw it in Gail Collins’ inadvertently comical trip to Williston, in which she looked at the roughneck oil-town environs through her Park Avenue contact lenses, and in the documentary “The Overnighters”, which pounded oil workers into sociology-class stereotypes with the energy of a Nigerian metalsmith turning an oil drum into a cook stove.
So when a Berkeley sociologist1 Arlie Russell Hochschild goes to rural Louisiana to chronicle the lives of Tea Partiers, you’d think you could predict the results. The book is called Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, and it’d seem you’d be right. No, I’ve not read it, and likely won’t. But the surprise is in the review itself, in the Washington Post, whose article on the book is titled “A Berkeley sociologist made some tea party friends — and wrote a condescending book about them“.
I’ll invite you to read the whole thing. But this reminded me of Gail Collins standing in the line at McDonalds in Williston:
When she lands in Louisiana, Hochschild realizes, “I was definitely not in Berkeley, California. . . . No New York Times at the newsstand, almost no organic produce in grocery stores or farmers’ markets, no foreign films in movie houses, few small cars, fewer petite sizes in clothing stores, fewer pedestrians speaking foreign languages into cell phones — indeed, fewer pedestrians. There were fewer yellow Labradors and more pit bulls and bulldogs. Forget bicycle lanes, color-coded recycling bins, or solar panels on roofs. In some cafes, virtually everything on the menu was fried.”
Dear God, no yellow Labs or solar panels? How do you live?
And I’m trying to imagine this bit here…:
Hochschild preps for her conservative immersion by reading “Atlas Shrugged,” because we know tea party types are into that. “If Ayn Rand appealed to them, I imagined, they’d probably be pretty selfish, tough, cold people, and I prepared for the worst,” this acclaimed sociologist writes. “But I was thankful to discover many warm, open people who were deeply charitable to those around them.”
…had Hochschild changed her subjects from rural whites to Urban blacks, and Ayn Rand to Malcolm X.
She’d never do lunch in Berkeley again.
The second American Revolution will be against our fellow Americans.