Look Ma, I'm a Populist

Maybe this isn't new. Maybe I'm just too young to recognize one of the book's older tricks. But since the election, there seem to be quite a number of Democratic pundits, columnists, and luminaries leveraging home purchases deep in Virginia for populist cred. Could we, you know, stop? Meeting 50 folks in rural Virginia doesn't strike me as quite enough down-home experience to claim credentials as a channeler of America's "jes' folks" contingent. And, more to the point, wouldn't it be great if we didn't buy into this pundit-propagated fiction that some swaths of America are somehow more real than others and experience, even glancing experience, in said territories imbues the cow-milker with special wisdom, insight and understanding?

I may be just an out of touch California kid but even I wouldn't presume to generalize the character and political desires of my neighbors. The conservative kingdom of Orange County, where I grew up, is worlds different politically than Los Angeles, where I live. Both vary wildly from Santa Cruz, and all allow for almost infinite variation in county boundaries. I could no more tell you what these people want and how they experience the world than I could accurately convey the feeling of growing up an aborigine. And, even were I to ignore my inadequacies and try, I certainly wouldn't tout whatever cockamamie judgment I arrived at as some transcendental truth of urban electorates, equally applicable to New York and Seattle. Virginians don't represent all other Virginians, not to mention inhabitants of West Virginia, or whole other states. And hell, if you want some information on what makes them tick, get one of Gov. Warner's staffers to write you an essay. But otherwise, let's end the race for the redder real estate. You want to live somewhere rural, that's terrific and I hope you do. But don't make it into some personal attribute or quality. It's a lifestyle choice, as American as any of the others, and it shouldn't be touted as initiation to some secret society of red state values or used as trump card in various arguments.

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