Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ref. 71 and The Culture War

MSNBC is on in the background as I, bleary-eyed and exhausted, peruse the election results from last night. Well, Ref. 71 seems to have done well, but upon closer look there are troubling results. It seems to me that liberal urban centers foisting upon rural conservative communities moral decisions that are central to the culture war (no longer a debate...) eventually might come back to haunt us. This isn't to say that I don't think gays should have rights, ladies should be able to get abortions, or whatever. My only point is that it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where unemployment continues to rise and the sprawling strip malls that that wend through suburbs out to the sparsely populated rural areas becomes desolate, with businesses abandoned and boarded up, and haunted by angry, disaffected people. How will these people feel then when things like Ref. 71 are passed?

Maybe I am worrying too much. Maybe those who oppose "everything-but-marriage" should be not only dragged to water, but forced to drink. Maybe social change is affected by legislating something that people find reprehensible. I've been reading The Man in the High Castle after having read Plot Against America and I think that it's pervaded my thinking a bit. I've also been thinking a lot about a couple of influential books, Love They Neighbor and War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. I worry that this country is inherently unstable due to a very large cultural divide. There is historical precedent for people scapegoating and villifying minorities when the societies are under duress. Will this happen here? I don't know. I do know that a trip into east Pierce County reveals a world distinctly different from the Tacoma's isolated city center. Likewise a trip south into Lakewood will do the same.

The echo chamber is reverberating with the meme that right is on the verge of a civil war between the Palin/Beck factions and the more centrist conservatives. I encourage everyone to spend a few minutes watching Glen Beck. I think it's important to understand under whose sway large swaths of this country have fallen. I think it's also important to understand the message they are carrying. I concur with Chomsky that these people - the disenfranchised that have found a voice with Palin/Beck - should be taken seriously. I don't know what that means, but I suspect it doesn't mean dismissing them as uneducated country bumpkins.

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