Why, in these last few weeks leading up to the Presidential election, is there such a need to define what makes someone a “real” American? Why the divisiveness, and the implication that edumacated, elitist big city folks just don’t understand the toils and troubles of the average, homespun “real” America? Well, I’ve looked at it backwards and forwards and upside down and the only conclusion I can come to is that it’s the GOP’s alternative to just coming out and saying “Don’t vote for the black guy with the funny name.”
Othering Barack Obama in any way they can is their only shot right now of pulling voters’ minds away from the economic crisis and the desperate belief that we, as a nation, need a change. Telling people that change is BAD, that this smart, competent man can’t relate to the Heartland and is somehow misrepresenting himself and will, therefore, screw Joe Six Pack, Joe the Plumber, and Joe Blow over… that’s the only weapon they have left.
And as someone who grew up in Ohio and now lives in New York City, I think that’s utter and complete bull. What a way to completely gloss over the fact that there are just as many highly educated elitists in Middle America as there are blue collar folks in our big cities! The socioeconomic divide is hardly regional and perpetuating that myth is doubly and triply offensive because New York City and Washington D.C. are the sites of one of this nation’s biggest tragedies. You cannot use 9/11 as one of your parties talking points and then turn around and say that where that tragedy happened isn’t “real America.” Gee, I guess it’s only real America when you need to appropriate its tragedy for political gain, huh?
What’s even more bizarre is that this idea of real vs. fake America, of the common man vs. the high elite, is being perpetuated by people who wear thousand dollar suits. Like, really? A party that’s mostly compromised of old, rich white guys is going to tell me they understand the plight of the average American? Please. It just doesn’t make sense! John McCain IS a member of the Washington elite! He has a bajillion houses. How exactly can he sit in judgment of fake America when he so aptly represents it?! Isn’t that biting the hand that feeds you?
Not if what you’re really trying to say is “Don’t vote for the black guy with the funny name.” Not if what you’re really trying to do is perpetuate a culture of fear and mistrust.
Don’t vote for that guy because he might swear in on the Qu’ran, make Arabic the national language, and make everyone in his cabinet wear Black Panther berets. Oh, and he’ll change the National Anthem to “I’d Like to Teach the World To Sing.”
Don’t vote for that guy because he’s not like you.
The problem is? The “you” in this appeal only represents a fraction of America. Who exactly does the McCain campaign think they’re talking to? Take a look around. We are not a nation solely composed of Caucasian Christians who all believe in the same doctrine and have the same values — and considering that the United States of America was founded on secular principles, we never really have been. But even our secular founding fathers never intended America to be anything but the land of the free for white men only. Their “real America” didn’t include rights for women, didn’t include people of color. Our Real America is white and black and brown. Real America is Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist and Pagan. Real America is both rich and poor. Real America is just as much Manhattan as it is Boise.
I am a real American, and screw anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.