Culture Wars as Smokescreen
There goes George Bush, playing the heartland card again. This CNN story
about Bush bashing Kerry for raising money at a star-studded fundraiser made me groan:
Speaking at a campaign stop in Michigan, Bush told supporters that "the other day, my opponent said, when he was with some entertainers from Hollywood, that they were the heart and soul of America.
"I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places right here, in Marquette, Michigan," he said, to applause from the crowd.
I will never understand the logic of playing the coasts against the middle. At the lowest level--where did all that post 9/11 All Americans Are New Yorkers Spirit go? Where does Bush think the United States started
? Paul Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Is Bush saying that no kid in Marquette, Michigan wants to grow up to be a entertainer? It seems like the epitome of the American dream--if you're talented and work hard, you can rise to the top. But more fundamentally--this can only make any kind of sense to people who are determined never to leave the midwest or have any dealings with family and friends on the coasts. Not to mention that the American motto is "E Pluribus, Unum."
Bush is in his element when he's beating the Culture Wars Straw Man, surely one of the most loathesome bogeymen of all time considering its affect on American politics, and by extension, world events. Can we talk about how to fund inner city and rural public schools so that kids growing up there can have a fighting chance of getting into colleges? No, we have to talk about making children pray for five minutes a day, hoping that will make up for leaking roofs and watered down reading lists. Can we talk about eradicating syphillis for once and for all? No, we have to talk about how Janet Jackson's nipple ruined America's innocence. Can we talk about fixing our intelligence system in the long term by encouraging young Americans to learn foreign languages and study world history? No, we're too busy kicking out qualified linguists from the military because they happen to be gay.
Can our senators spend all their time thinking about important issues like national security and a viable longterm energy policy? No, they're too busy having to block a Constitutional amendment to deny rights to American familes.
I'm never going to be able to adaquately analyze this amazing phenomena by which millions of American voters get hoodwinked every year, but I recommend the writings of one Thomas Frank, native Kansan, on the subject. His new book What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives won the Heart of America
details the problem's history and dynamics. His Harper's Essay,"Lie Down for America: How the Republican Party Sows Ruin on the Great Plain"
helped clarify these issues for me, and he's a frequent contributor to The Baffler