Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Climate of Fake America

Until last December, I had lived my entire life in the Upper Midwest (Michigan and Ohio) and the mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania). When I was getting ready to move to California, lots of people -- friends, family, and strangers alike -- made all sorts of denigrating comments about California and Californians. I was warned against becoming a crazy driver, becoming a hippie, dying in an earthquake, turning into a self-absorbed asshole in general, you name it.

But once I got here, I saw that Californians couldn't be lovelier. When I say I grew up in a small town in Ohio, they don't say, "Oh god, how did you ever survive?" They say, "Hey, I was in Cleveland recently, and had a good time." When I say that I come from a religious family, and grew up going to church weekly, they don't say, "Ew! How oppressive!"; they talk about their own religious experiences (or lack thereof).

All this "real America" rhetoric from Republicans has rankled me. Growing up, my family was one of the few liberal families in a conservative town, and those "real Americans" would say awful things about us. We ate dinner together every single night, but apparently lacked "family values" because we were Democrats. Now I live in what is unequivocally not real America, and all the fake Americans I know have much more goodwill towards the rest of the country -- not just the parts that look and think like they do.

The culture wars have become one-sided, which bizarrely gives me hope. The McCain campaign has been using them as a last-chance tactic, and it doesn't appear to be working. If Obama wins, they might actually be over.

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