When you live in Keyport, NJ, you do not think of yourself as white trash. Certainly there are other neighborhoods along the southern shore of Lower New York Bay that have higher poverty rates among the white population.
But in the wider world of New Jersey, Exit 117 off the Garden State Parkway is truly suspect, and in the really prosperous communities nearer to Exit 114, Keyport is a place to live if circumstances, genetics or sloth prevent you from living decently.
I recently shared a cab to Newark Airport with a woman from keyport and got some insight into the soul of a Republican.
She was a white woman, with a job, living in a newish townhouse condo in this community on the borderline between the haves and have nots.
She wanted Obama to be quickly impeached. That there are obviously no grounds for such a proceeding didn't factor into her strongly held belief.
Her major complaint with the federal government was the slowness in Hurricane Sandy payouts. There is a water stain on her dining room ceiling. Insurance had not covered it, apparently because of the well-used dodge of wind-blown rain.
She was angry that others, particularly Hispanics, had been given ATM cards to get food before her water stain was cared for.
She was also concerned about the claim of her neighbors for damage to their air-conditioners, feeling they should get full replacement cost for the units rather than their depreciated value as five-year-old equipment.
She was entirely tolerant and interested in the bisexual soap opera of our married cab driver's life.
A speech therapist, she was disdainful of her clients whose expensive treatment was paid for by the government. Though she had been in trouble at work for insensitivity, she denied being a racist.
While there are Republicans who can attempt to put their views in some consistent framework of belief, in this particular case, there was nothing there that was very complicated.
The woman was not against government spending, just wanted money dispersed quickly and generously to herself and people like her.
She will never pay Obama's higher tax rates for millionaires. But she wanted to keep a tight hold on her precarious position on the ladder of stratified American society.
While she may never have the good fortune to move three miles down the Parkway to the Exit 114 neighborhoods, she certainly was horrified. The kind of people who live at Exit 14C off the Turnpike, in urban neighborhoods like Jersey City, are occupying rungs near the top of the ladder.
As she looks at her depreciating condo, in a post-bubble real estate market, her anger grows as she slides down the ladder while fretting about her water-stained ceiling.