In just under two weeks, we Americans will head to the polls to elect a new President and Congress. Notice that I had the chutzpah to say "we Americans" because, according to some people, folks like me in Blue States aren't real Americans.
Recently Sarah Palin has said that she will campaign only in "pro-American" states. This past Friday some wackjob Republican congresswoman named Michelle Bachmann talked about how the media should "launch an investigation" into members of Congress who were "anti-American." Apparently people who are "anti-American" or insufficiently "pro-American" are people who disagree with the likes of Madames Palin and Bachmann. Joe McCarthy is alive and well and, strangely enough, wears high heels and a skirt! Who knew he was a transvestite?
As a native New Yorker, I take exception with these self-appointed guardians of "Americanism". According to these people, your Americanism boils down to where you live or how you vote. It does not, however, have anything to do with how you or your family lives or contributes to American society.
Never mind that my father and grandfather fought in two of our nation's wars.
Never mind that one of my great uncles, a guy from Brooklyn, got blown up in WWII.
Never mind that it was NYC and Washington, DC, towns infested with liberal Democrats, that got attacked on 9.11.2001.
If you don't vote Republican or live in a Red State, that stuff still doesn't make you or members of your family "real Americans."
How does this work anyway? One side of my family is from "anti-America" NYC, the other side is from Western Pennsylvania, which John McCain just called the "most patriotic part of America." Does that make me half pro-, half anti-American? Do the pro and anti halves cancel each other out? Please clarify this for me, it's so confusing.
And what of the "real America" anyway? What is life like out there in those "pro-American" Red states?
If you read this 2006 article from Vanity Fair, Red State Babylon by James Walcott, it's ain't a pretty site. If fact, it's a creepy, grotesque, moral cesspool. Compared to Red States, Blue States are law-abiding bastions of squareness. The Red State narcissism of the likes of Palin and Bachmann -- that feeling of down home, Joe Six pack, hockey mom cultural superiority to their Blue State brethren -- appears to exist in inverse proportion to reality.
Did you know that Red States have the highest rates of violent crime and suicide? And the biggest numbers of obese people and pregnant teenagers (I can't think of any of our political leaders mentioned here who might know something about that). And when they aren't busy killing themselves or each other, or overeating and knocking up their teenagers, they're busy dodging exploding crystal meth labs on their way to losing money in Indian and riverboat casinos.
And talking about money, Red Staters have no business complaining about high taxes. Ohhhhhhhhh no. (Heck no, as Ms. Palin might say.) According to the blogger TaxProf, Blue States are a giant feed bag of tax dollars for Red States. All those "pro-America" Red States would have third-world economies if not for the financial largess of the "anti-American" Blue States. We New Yorkers send close to $10 billion a year in extra tax dollars to the federal coffers that gets sent to build pork barrel projects in the Red States. That's money that never comes back home here and doesn't go into improving our schools and public transportation or paying our cops and firefighters more. I agree with the Republican: taxes should be lower -- for Blue Staters. Red Staters should either pay their fare share or give us back our money. Now!
Most of all, these right wing nuts do a great disservice to their fellow Red Staters. I have relatives and friends in places like Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina who are some of the most progressive, open minded, kind hearted, generous people you'd ever want to meet (some of my best friends are Red Staters, ha ha ha). And what nitwits like Palin and Bachmann, et al do is make people in Blue States think that all Red Staters are mean-spirited lunatics which, I can personally attest to, they most certainly are not. But this is how the Republicans try to divide and conquer -- and it's disgusting.
If all goes well, these culture warriors will feel the pain on November 4th. It won't end this "anti" and "pro" America stuff forever but if they see that it's a loser politically, maybe they'll try something a little more productive for change. And then, maybe, just maybe, America can heal itself.