THOSE DAMNED COASTAL ELITES
Hi, there, “coastal elites”. A message for you from flyover country. I’ve been living here for most of my life now (like, decades!) and I have been watching with fascination as the pundits have been fingering you for being out of touch, misguided, and contemptuous of those of us here in the heartland. I would just like to add my voice to the mix, as someone who has actually lived in flyover country (unlike most of the people writing the pieces about flyover country, who have mostly flown over, and decided to stop over for a night or two and talk to the first six people they met before they hopped back on the plane to write a piece about flyover country from their enormous experience they had just acquired).
I have to admit, they are right about one thing – you are indeed out of touch. You are indeed misguided. Flyover country is not what you think it is at all…it’s worse. Much worse. It is, in fact, the very gateway to hell, and if you stay here for too long, you may find yourself slowly (or rapidly) losing your mind. It isn’t just the corn, which stretches its leaves to the sky pretending to be some sort of an ecosystem (no, it’s really just a different sort of pavement). It’s not just the heat, which is dirty and dusty and lacks the clean freshness of coastal air that you are used to. No, it’s the attitude, the ideas, and the political beliefs.
From what I’ve seen, the “coastal elites” are anything but contemptuous of the flyover country. There is a ton of sympathy and angst about the plight of the individuals living here. Article upon article talks about how nice people are in the middle of the country, how helpful, how much they will do for you, and how friendly they are. “Coastal elites” spill tons of ink on sympathetic articles about just how tough it is to live here, and just how tough it is to hear people being contemptuous of you for not being as educated, as sophisticated, etc. They think that the citizens of flyover country are feeling down and inferior because they are always being told how inferior they are…the problem with that is, they are not always being told how inferior they are. So, try again.
The other problem with this narrative is that they do not, in fact, feel inferior. The real story, the one everyone misses, is that they feel superior to the “coastal elites” – even those who aren’t actually coastal but are living within their own communities and hiding under desks, porches, or any other structure large enough to protect them from the wrath and rage of the denizens of flyover country, also known as their neighbors. They do not see you as educated “sages on stages” or someone who knows things they do not know. The people here in flyover country see you as someone who does not know anything at all. They see you as someone who is not fully human. They see you as stupid, evil, lazy, ignorant, decadent, indecent, socially corrupt, politically bankrupt, and physically impaired. They believe that you are incapable of learning, incapable of thinking, and unworthy of being a citizen of the United States. They believe, in fact, that you are traitors and should be shot, hung, burned in a giant conflagration, and then have your head put on a stake as a warning to all other uppity stupid people who might happen to have the same stupid, ignorant, lazy, and evil ideas that you have.
Think I exaggerate? I don’t. Come to flyover country. Sit in any place where people gather (well, not anyplace…avoid the coffee houses and live theatre. Those are the areas the liberals have staked out, and most of the “flyover country” good wholesome people avoid them like the plague). Sit and listen to the conversation. Not for thirty minutes, not for an hour, not for two days. Spend a month here. Move here for a spell, and really get to know the people. Give them a chance to show you who they are, then stand back. But before you come, you might want to practice so you don’t show your shock and horror, so you don’t let on to them that you are a “coastal elite” by letting consternation show on your face while they speak and blow your cover.
Practice. Go to the NRA website and play their videos for several hours. Read everything written by Ammon Bundy and his father, Cliven. Read the manifestos of the various militias. Read the material put out by the John Birch Society. Read the anti-woman screeds that are so easy to find online, if you know where to look. Read the anti-choice propaganda and practice hearing women called “whores” and “sluts” until you can hear it without wincing. Hang crosses on every wall and put quotes against secular government underneath them where you can see them no matter where you turn. Listen to any and every blowhard you can find that is willing to explain about the gay agenda, the feminist agenda, the immigrant agenda, the Jewish agenda…there are a lot of agendas to cover, so spend a bit of time on that one.
Then, when you have gotten your training completed, get your ticket to flyover country. Don’t go to one of the cities, because it is too easy to find a small liberal community that you can hide in and pretend that these problems don’t exist. No, go to a place that has 30,000 people or fewer, one that proudly bills itself as a rural community committed to wholesome family values. Rent a place where you can stay for a while (don’t worry about cost; cost of living is much lower here, you can probably afford it with all that wealth you’ve sucked from Uncle Sam, right?). Then immerse yourself in the wholesome family values of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and hatred of the other.
When you return to your own world, write an article explaining to the other “coastal elites” about how nice the people you met were, and how they just want a better life for themselves and their family here in the forgotten center of the country (that has more political power than other areas of the country; notice the Ag lobby sometime, okay?). Explain to all of us how the Democrats could win if they would just drop the identity politics and focus on the needs of flyover country. Explain how we need to stop talking about women’s rights, the rights of minorities, and the rights of LGBTQ, and listen to the good folks in the center of the country. If you have gotten that far without gagging, then read back over your article, print it carefully (in triplicate if you wish), and…shred the whole damn thing and start again.
Time to tell the truth. The values promoted by the so-called “coastal elites” are the values that we as a country should be eager to embrace. They are the values of humanity for everyone, and not the values of hate. Yes, there may be times when the “coastal elite” goes too far. There may be solutions that cause more problems than they solve. There may be times when nuance belies the simplistic solution being promoted by activists. Those are bugs that can be worked out if we can all just agree on one thing – it’s better to work together to solve our collective problems than to throw the least powerful under the bus in order to win a bit more power for ourselves.