This divide is so bizarre to rural people, to hunters, to farmers, to people who actually know where their food comes from. For the urbanized metrosexual, meat comes in neat bloodless plastic packages or cans, there's no connection to a living bird. They rarely see any living animals other than pets and pigeons, let alone consider how they might be edible. The fact that pigeons were introduced to cities as a food source
is unthinkable to them. The idea that an animal must be killed, plucked, and hacked apart to be ready for them to eat is simply blotted out from their mind.
This divide explains why part of the country cannot even imagine how a hard left politician with radical ties to terrorists and America-haters who openly stated he wants to raise taxes and quotes Marx on economic policy could possibly have been elected. Meanwhile, the other part of the country is shocked and dismayed that anyone could possibly support a President who actually says he prays and reads the Bible (can you believe, in this day and age?
) or a ballot measure that defines marriage as one man and one woman.
There was a very popular (and insightful, for the most part) book in the early 90s entitled Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus
that tried to explain the battle of the sexes and the confusion in relationships with the fact that we're basically different. That we think differently - even radically so - and the only way to reach out to one another is to learn these differences and make allowances for it.
There's a real need for a similar book regarding urban and rural peoples. It is as if two separate species live side by side, externally similar, but alien to one another. The language is similar sounding, but when one says words like patriotism, dissent, and country, they mean something entirely different than the other. This cultural disparity has grown and accelerated in the last decade or so to the point where it is almost unbridgeable.
THE WHORE OF BABYLON
It is this divide that explains the horror and hatred of Governor Palin. She's an accomplished, well-spoken, and professional woman who has achieved greatness and epitomizes that which the feminist movement stated they wanted and fought for. I remember the movie Fargo
in which the main character Marge Gunderson was a homespun folksy type who was also very capable, wise, and patient, a woman who was great at her job and independent while having a great, loving relationship with her husband. The feminists and urbanites loved her, she was fun and wise and great and they considered her a terrific character.
Yet when the real thing comes along, they treat her with contempt, even hatred. They lie openly about her, spread horrific slanderous rumors, demonize and mock her. They treat her like the worst evil on earth, anathema, an object of profanity and bitter spite. They act like she's a moron, a freak, a hayseed. Why?
Because Governor Plain is the rural voice, because she's a threat to the urbanized view of life. Because she connects so well with so many people in a powerful way. Because she lives
the antithesis of their lives: in the country, hunting, fishing, camping, she is in the country and doesn't just enjoy it, she's not ashamed of it. She's proud of her life and how she lives. The divide of cultures couldn't be more plainly and obviously stated, she personifies that split and is hated for it.
Because she reaches so many people, is such an effective speaker, and
is a rural conservative, she's too effective, too potent. She might shift the country against the urbanites who at present control not just entertainment and popular culture, but the news media and now government. The loss of that means a loss of what the urban culture holds dear, wants to achieve, and believes in. President Bush was bad enough, he was far too much of the ruralite, but at least he was not all that
conservative. Governor Palin is too much, by far.
The strange thing is, you can see this divide evident inside parties. There are Democrats who are rural as well as urban - the urban wing simply controls the party right now. Most of the new young congressmen who were elected in 2006 were rural Democrats, "blue dogs" who were largely conservative socially and fiscally and ran on that platform. As time goes on the divide and the disagreements will become more clear and noticable.
Meanwhile, in the Republican party, the same fight is going on, in a more open and strident manner. The Wall Street Journal and other urbanite Republicans are calling for the rubes to be silenced or removed from the party. Shut up about social issues, they cost the election
, they cry (without logic or factual basis). There are cries for the party to be moved to the center socially, to focus on fiscal issues and quiet about abortion, immigration, and God. Some are sarcastic, bitter, and angry about it - some of them showing the identical hatred and fear of Governor Palin as on the left.
Because this isn't a party split, or a political split. How this will develop and who will win in the short and long term we'll see. I'll just offer that urban ideology is not helping them much in practical terms; just take a good look at any big city some time and tell me that philosophy is a winner.
*For more thoughts on how this works out practically; how the divide affects American culture, read Victor Davis Hanson's recent column of 10 Random Politically Incorrect Thoughts
**Edited to correct the attribution, thanks to Mitch in the comments.