Red states, blue states and real America

With less than a week to go before Election Day, Republicans across the country are running scared. Not only is Sen. John McCain poised to lose the presidential election in spectacular fashion (A Pew Research poll yesterday found that he is behind by 19 points among early voters), he seems determined to bring every other Republican candidate in the country down with him. The GOP is seriously facing its worst case scenario: a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic majority of 250 (or more) in the House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority of 60 seats in the Senate. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: "If Democrats win the White House, the filibuster would be the last institutional power left to the GOP." McCain currently trails Sen. Barack Obama in virtually every battleground state, and his situation is worsening daily. It is now possible that McCain will lose his home state of Arizona: His formidable lead of six weeks ago has shrunk significantly and, according to one poll, is now just four points. We may observe a similar trend in Georgia, a state President George W. Bush won twice by relatively large margins, which Pollster.com now lists as a true toss-up.

Further, Obama has garnered endorsements from a number of top GOP figures, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan and C. C. Goldwater, granddaughter of conservative messiah and 1964 Republican presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater. Ken Adelman, a veteran Republican defense policy workhorse and one of the last remaining intellectual conservatives on Earth, has also endorsed Obama, writing in a recent piece on the Huffington Post: "McCain's temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that "our guy" would be a[nother] lousy conservative president. Been there, done that … McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be."

Over the past two weeks, as Republicans across the country have become more aware of its predicament, the GOP has increased its stream of divisive rhetoric and shameless fear mongering, resorting to Karl Rove's favorite tactic of 2004: calling the other guy unpatriotic/un-American. McCain camp spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer in a recent television appearance said while Democrats have attained a majority in northern Virginia, "the rest of the state, ‘real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message," thereby implying that the Democratic-leaning part of the state is somehow not ‘real.' Not to be outdone, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., stated on MSNBC that she is "very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views" and that "the news media should do a penetrating expose" on the members of Congress in order to find out whether they are pro-American or not. What a splendid idea, congresswoman! Why, we could even make a list of government employees who are anti-American and create a congressional committee to deal with them! Elwyn Tinklenberg, Bachmann's rival in the race for Minnesota's third district, has raised more than $1.8 million for his campaign since her segment on the show aired. Bachmann has since aired an apology ad but now makes the highly suspect claim that she had never seen Hardball before and her interviewer tricked her into making the comments. Gov. Sarah Palin, too, has (somewhat predictably) jumped on the bandwagon, saying: "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic … [people in the] pro-America areas of this great nation," insinuating that there are other (presumably more urban) areas of the country which are not pro-America.

From this, we can only infer that "real" Americans are exclusively people who live in small towns and vote Republican. Those who live in big cities and vote Democrat, on the other hand, must not be real Americans. Let's consider the fact that two of the most Democratic-leaning cities in the United States are New York and Washington, D.C. These places must also be, according to Bachmann, Palin and Pfotenhauer, not part of the real America. Now, surely no one would disagree that these two cities are the biggest terrorist targets in the United States. This is about where the logic of all this pro-America/anti-America talk starts to break down: If it is the case these places are not the real America, why would al-Qaida bother attacking them? If the real America is out in Kansas or Oklahoma (or Alaska) somewhere, why not attack their barns and grain silos (and oil pipelines), rather than buildings in decidedly anti-American cities? Indeed, if al-Qaida wasn't even attacking the real America, what sort of damage could they honestly have hoped to do? If the residents of these areas were truly as anti-American as the GOP would have us believe, wouldn't Osama bin Laden have done well to recruit them, rather than kill and alienate them? This entire discussion, of course, is overtly ridiculous. No part of this country is any more pro-America than any other, except in the minds of the right wing's most delusional and paranoid denizens.

The all-powerful Palin factor: After two months on the ticket, she still doesn't know what a VP does!


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