There were a few special elections in red districts last night that had the Dems excited, but ended in narrow losses. There was a lot of hype about the elections and the possibility of turning the districts blue. When that didn’t happen, there were the expected hot takes as to what the problem was. Many were along the lines of we need new blood in the party, and the even more predictable worry about the appeal of the Democratic Party to rural white people. This has been the theme of 2016: How the Democratic Party has abandoned rural (read, white) Americans. It’s playing out in Minnesota with the new light rail line being vilified by congresspeople from rural areas, painting it as a benefit to the Twin Cities at the expense of rural people. More than half of our taxes come from just 4 of our 87 counties, and they’re all ‘city’ counties. When the rural counties fall short on what they can pay, guess who picks up the tab? Yet, even in this article which is definitely pro-city, there’s the obligatory ‘both sides do it’ paragraph tossed in at the end.
I’ve written about my weariness with this hot take before, that city people need to stop looking down their noses at the poor, beleaguered country folk. I’m not denying that city people have and will sneer at rural people. People look down on other people; it’s the way of life, sadly. What bothers me is that for the hundreds of hot takes I’ve read (or scanned), scolding urban liberals for overlooking or laughing at rural people, I’ve maybe read four or five stories pointing out that big cities pay way more than they take in and that we’re equally looked down at (if not more so) by county people than the other way around.
We’ve become the punching bag when conservatives (and some rural Dems) want to push for their agendas. Limousine liberals stuck in our salons sipping kale smoothies watching Trevor Noah while talking about how much we hate people who live in the country. Real Americans. The heart of America. The Bible Belt. The salt of the earth kind of people. It’s a lie, and yet, it’s one that has stuck. For whatever reason, it’s fine to laugh at city people and call us special snowflakes while taking our money, but we’re supposed to reach out and ignore their disdain and try to bridge the gap.
I was traveling with my best friend and another friend through the heart of America (this is many years back now), and we stopped at a gas station in Iowa (or Wisconsin. Can’t remember. Very rural, though). All three of us were wearing tank tops, and two of us have tats. One black woman, one white woman, and me. The woman at the counter was rude to all of us, staring daggers at us as we picked out our pops. When I went up to pay, I held out the money, and she took it by the corner so she wouldn’t have any chance of touching me. Then, when she was giving me my change, she dropped it on the counter right in front of my outstretched hand.
Anecdote is not data, of course, but from what I’ve read, the closed-mindedness I experienced is not unusual. Some well-meaning liberals wrote how we needed to move to red areas and do some outreach. I’ve written before that it’s white liberals writing this, and if they want to do that, they can go ahead and uproot themselves for the better of the country. Most people can’t do that, and more to the point, those of us in the minority pay a hefty price for having to do this kind of work. I’m not saying those who want to do it should be discouraged from doing so, just realize that it’s harder for those of us who are of color or queer or other minorities. To expect us to go into the lion’s den and endured the harassment we are almost inevitably going to face is a form of privilege.
I do know why the focus is on us reaching out and not them, however. The biggest reason is because we’re more likely to change than they are. I have no hot take on that because it seems so obvious to me, and it’s frustrating that I don’t see any hot takes on this. It makes me wonder if I’m just making things up in my head when I can see things that other people can’t see. It’s one reason I’ve stopped writing about politics. I feel as if I’m either way out there or everyone else is.
I don’t like hot takes. I’m sure that’s pretty clear from what I’ve written so far, but I just wanted to emphasize it. It seems as if it’s more for clicks than for actual substance. In addition, I can now guess who has written a hot take (if I know the writer) before even looking at a byline, just as I know what pundit is going to say what on an issue, no matter what the issue is.
I feel like old woman shaking fist at clouds, but I would sell my left kidney for nuance in all these hot takes. I know that nuance is the anathema to a hot take, and I know I’m old-fashioned in wishing articles would actually have substance instead of just being crafted for the clicks. I want the kids to get off my lawn, also, too. It’s strange because I’m a pretty heavy user of social media and the internet in general, but I’m an analog grrl at heart. I don’t want listicles, slideshows, clickbait, or any of that shit in my articles. I actually prefer reading books than on my computer, but I can’t deny that Kindle is a godsend.
I know. I’m old. I need to let the young kids come forward and take their time in the sun because my due date is past expired. I’m going to get off my own damn lawn.
h/t to Barb Yau on Facebook for the Minnesota tax/light rail link.