Democrats & Liberals Archives

Oh, You Think You're Better Than Me Now?

Just try the title with a New York and Philly accent, and you’ll get some of what my essay’s about right off the bat. It’s the real question I want to pose to all those Conservatives, independents and Republicans out there.

Why do I ask? Because it seems that despite the egalitarian rhetoric that surrounds the high praise of the Midwest, the South and the West, it all boils down to one thing: If you’re an intellectual, a liberal, an urban dweller on the east coast, or the west coast, or a liberal Christian, then we’re better than you.

As Southern Catholic who's lived practically his whole life in the Lone Star State I find that deeply offensive.

Partly, because I know what it is to be considered a stereotype. You can't get more stereotyped than a Texan. I've got news for everybody: Texas is eighty percent urban. Most people don't wear cowboy hats, though blue jeans are common. We have punks, Goths, hippies, minorities, just like everybody else.

You know what? We may have a lot of megachurches here, but we also got a lot of strip clubs, too. If you think we're holier than thou, that we're really better Americans than most people, you got another thing coming. We're human here in Texas. We got our freaky sides just like everybody else.

Doubtlessly, every other Red State is exactly the same. So, really, there is no reason for people from those states to smile smugly and claim that this election victory was really any kind of victory for "decent people" An awful lot of decent people lost out in this last election, and I don't think a lot of them take kindly to being treated like second class citizen.

Democrats are not immune from this stereotyping behavior. Does that make it any better for Republicans to engage in it? A pox on both their houses. We don't need to be turning one against the other, especially given the fact we have real enemies out there. I'm sure the Massachusetts liberals and the folks of the "Left Coast" enjoyed being roasted for not following their Midwestern kin. I'm sure they're telling themselves that they really want to vote for Republicans any time soon. Fact is, while Bush may have roasted Edwards over his Two Americas comment, Bush effectively argued that huge parts of our country were foreign lands, which did not work in America's interests.

I'm also not all that big a fan of all this anti-intellectualism. I believe in egalitarian principles, but I believe part of those principles is that those who can become better at something than anybody else should not only be allowed to do so, but encouraged to do so. No B.S. about the Bell Curve, no B.S. about Ivory Tower intellectuals- The Iraq War proves that the Republicans have their own smart people cut off from reality. Frankly, I enjoy a world replete with possibilities, with ideas and philosophies, with life and diversity. I enjoy this not because I don't believe certain things more than others, or because I spurn the average person's intelligence, but because I believe a robust society must have strong discourse, because we imperfect human beings will never think of all the possibilities we need to by ourselves.

That is the heart, I think of true egalitarianism: we don't automatically set one group of people as wiser than others. People have to prove their wisdom. Elites must be organic products of intellectual competition, not the enforced result of one set of institutions, vested powers, or hereditary standard bearers or another. That goes for all sides.

That is not to deny that the old cities, the big cities don't have their pull. In a democracy, that is as it must be. Those in Rural and Suburban settings are right to want to resist, to assert their own values. But there comes a time when the assertion becomes an attempt to dominate, and the honest wish to work in one's own self-interests becomes an unfair denial of somebody else's, and then ultimately your own as the other side aggressively fights back.

Ultimately no side wins when one political block of the country decides to rule in tyranny over the other, denying legitimate concerns, while demonizing those who raise them. Change will occur, and what we once took for granted will become no more. Those who have built their power on the suppression of another's ideals, another's philosophy may just find themselves on the wrong side of an issue who's time has come. It is better to see with open eyes, and to speak with open hearts and open minds, and thereby be open to the future instead of closed to such things by pride and arrogance.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2004 9:06 AM