Thursday, September 04, 2008

Not so long ago, everyone was going on about how the U.S. was (is) on the wrong track, and the rest of the world no longer looks up to them, and how they've been surpassed by Europe and China. Tourists are viewed as Ugly Americans. Fareed Zakaria published The Post-American world and said it was a good thing, other people clutched at their heads and bemoaned the state of the union, etc.

I think a big part of that has to do with the way Republicans subverted Americana. Middle America used to mean simple, hardworking folks. You know, the whole Norman Rockwell thing, small towns, etc. They didn't resent city slickers. They didn't begrudge them their "success". The past eight or twelve years, Karl Rove and his friends have poisoned many American's ideas about themselves.

Imagine, if you will, an old black and white movie. A 1930's type atmosphere, a little girl with a dirty and tear streaked face shrieking, "I may not have much, like y'all rich and fancy folks! I didn't go to fancy schools and I don't eat arugula, but I sure do know what decent is! And you ain't decent! You're bastards, the whole lot of you!"That's how I picture it, somehow.

It may not be true, but perception is reality. If you constantly tell people that they live in fly over states, that the other side thinks they're morons, they start to believe it. And the Democrats certainly haven't helped.

Mr. Bristol Palin's Baby's Daddy said he's a "fucking redneck". Provincial and proud of it. But it didn't use to mean bitter.

It's not just Rove and Rush Limbaugh who did this, mind you. It has to do with the fact that the so-called American Dream is not so easy to acheive these days. Many people are disillusioned that hard work by itself won't get you many places.

I've written before about this phenomenom in Mexico. The lower, middle and higher classes resent each other and it manifested itself in the 2006 elections with pro-AMLos and anti-AMLOs. Because in Mexico, even more than in the U.S., it's not what you know, it's who you know. It's extremely hard to jump the gap from poor to middle class. Lots of people emigrate (legally or illegaly) to the States or elsewhere, and 'strike it rich' through hard work and persistence. They don't lack the smarts or the ambition. But bureaucracy, cronyism and a lack of community spirit are mighty barriers down here, sometimes insurmountable.

I think this is happening in the States. It may be happenind in other places too, I don't know. Yes, I know entrepreneurship is alive and healthy, and there are more millionaires than ever. But the gap between haves and the have nots is growing, and it's harder to overcome it, below a certain level.

My marketer friends and I are fond of saying that you can badmouth the upper classes in a Mexican political election and win, but it doesn't work that well North of the Rio Bravo, since Americans all believe they can strike it rich someday. But maybe that is no longer true, at least in some circles.

I mean, what the fuck happened that "elite" is now a dirty word? Cosmopolitan is an insult? Obama is a fancy city boy who doesn't understand hard work? His mother sometimes went on food stamps! He was raised by his grandmother! The Obama's has massive student loans! Why can't people enjoy their success if they worked hard for it?

Palin's speech is the Republican party up to it's old antics, praising small mindedness. Proud of their ignorance. If this kind of thinking wins, frankly, the rest of us just might give up the U.S.

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