Reading through some Amazon critiques of "What's the matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank, and having been apart of this blog for awhile now, I would like to have a chat between myself, a self styled centrist-pragmatist, and you progressives. Ah yes, I am that middle of the road voter, that rare bird in the Amazon that no political adventurer on safari has quite been able to find. I am sitting at Starbucks on my laptop, enjoying a corporate latte and chatting with folks back home on my Icontraption, wondering whether or not I'll fit in a trip to Wal-Mart to do some much needed holiday shopping for those special centrists in my life. I keep up with the news, or at least, I'd like to think so. I'm too busy reveling in telling everyone how busy I am, enjoying my service sector job while all that dirty manufacturing is being done by peasants I'll never have to lay eyes on. I hear flippant, vague things about people with signs occupying places too numerous to mention, and clicking on Youtube videos that don't involve animals doing cute or strange things doesn't quite pique my interest enough to spend the thousands of calories it would take to press my finger against the left mouse key. I'm imagining that one of you progressives is sitting right next to me on an oddly green colored couch to see if you can turn the dial on my centrism. Maybe we could have a lively discussion and get to know one another?
You see, I love "reasoned debates" with "facts" and generalizations make me squirm. I don't like extremes; they send chills down my spine. I'm not interested in your talking points or your generalizations, or your war against whoever the great evil bad guy is today. I would react incredulously if you badmouth corporations; clearly, critiquing them means you're broad brushing them (somehow), and that means you are just partisan, and in my clique, that's a big no-no. I'm at peace with the fact that a little Indonesian girl was paid 10 cents an hour to lose her arm to make me my clothes, thank you, but at the same time I sometimes worry about the future of American manufacturing and why so many people cannot seem to integrate into a sector of the economy that is rapidly being outsourced to India. To be honest, sometimes talking with you, I find you to be an elitist. You think everyone is supposed to just live in a picket fenced liberal enclave with independent bookstores and art shows every summer. You say when I vote Republican I vote against my own economic self interest, but you don't take the time to prove that, and even if you did, there are still other voices in this debate and I will not be satisfied until all of them are heard, lest I not feel centrist. Yes, maybe that corporation does sometimes stiff its workers or fight unions, but unions aren't always right, but I'm sure there is something nice they did I can cite that will somehow cancel that out magically. Besides, I can just assume that we have rule of law and if they really did anything all that illegal the authorities would pick up on it.
You argue with the point that Republicans are the sworn enemy of non-rich people as the basis, as if I'm supposed to just accept 30 years of American history. Sometimes I feel you are just sharpening your partisan dagger to go to war against ghosts from the 70's. Oh, and by the way, when you say rich people, I always think of Warren Buffet or the Starbucks CEO, and never Rupert Murdoch and his international crime syndicate. In my mind, Chase gives back to the community, and banks, in a broader sense, are key to business growth, even if I don't realize that a market with no accountability leads to a small enclave of people engineering its ups and downs for their own profit.
You see, I can't even fathom a political party would have people in it that made people of modest means their enemies. The Republicans reach out to hard working Christians who live in areas with a standard of living made possible by the cheap goods of corporations (and the food stamps people use, which JP Morgan makes a hefty profit off of). You're always dividing people into classes; it's like you won't accept that people just have different skills and should be rewarded while others should be just left to the winds of fate. Oh, was that a "Save the Children" commercial? I'll give some money right now with my Blackberry. Those poor, starving, AIDS-stricken African children...as I was saying, poor people are poor for a reason in this country, and we live in a post racial society, so maybe Black people are using race as a poker chip in this game you keep perpetuating?
So, progressives, I just cannot quite get on your bandwagon, unless you poll me on specific issues and find I agree with you on like 9/10 of them. You wail on corporations without knowing why, and you're always out there with your "liberal causes." You say people suffer under Republicans, and that the poorest states in the union are red, but I'm sure if I looked at cities run by Democrats I'd find the same sorry state of affairs. Every time I find some little thing to contradict your larger issue, it just makes me feel that you're that much more partisan. You say the people of Kansas don't know their own economic interests or are scared by "teh gayz," yet I read this article by this well dressed man that said the states unemployment rate is lower than average, and I would never take the fact that its lower in population to heart. Perhaps Republican voters in that state are happy with economic affairs and that that party speaks to them? Well Mr. Progressive, I must go now and get in my car and head home. You've made your points and I'll reflect on them and get back to my life. I do so enjoy reflection.
(In case you're at all wondering, I have friends who sound like this and are self styled centrists or libertarians who don't get OWS or think that government loans warp the market. When you make a single misstep in stating your case to them, they shrug you off. I've been dying to figure a way to wrap our message in a passable way, that doesn't sound like it will just be government intervention that distorts markets and gets bad results, or senseless hatred towards people in power whose largesse we can summarily ignore. As for myself, I'm the evil capitalist that sits at the lunch table with all the socialist kids.)