I spent the first years after my illness driving around the country, stopping in some places for a year or two, then moving on. In that time I drove across the United States four times, and across Canada once. I mostly lived in places where people like myself, politically, live, but on most of my trips, except for the trip across Canada, the politics were the red state kind. Me, I'm a coastal guy, a blue stater, through and through.
I'm the kind of guy the red stater's hate.
I have an excellent education, and I didn't stop after I finished school. I worked hard, and struggled, and made a success of myself. I didn't borrow money, I don't have much in my Social Security account, but I do have good retirement savings and health insurance. I have a well-used passport. I read voraciously, and on some subjects, systematically, and communicate with people on the Internet from all over the world.
Because of my education both formal and continuing, I have a perspective on the world that people in the flyover states not only don't have, but that they openly express hatred of. I know that's an extreme statement, but listen -- in the east and the west you don't hear ignorant people boasting of their ignorance the way Sarah Palin did in her acceptance speech at the RNC. But in the middle of the country, esp the South, you do hear that. A lot. So much so that you can pretty much win a national election by appealing to that character flaw.
Now I'm not a Democrat, and I'm quite conservative on a number of issues, but they still call me "The Left" when dismissing me. I follow the example of my maternal uncle who said he was a Party Of One, he thought for himself, and made up his own mind. So I am totally Pro Choice, anti-death penalty, and I practice no religion. That's another reason people in the flyover states hate me.
But I've decided I don't care if they hate me or not. After all, they say that we as Americans shouldn't care whether people outside the United States hate us. So why should I care if they hate me?
Another reason they probably hate me, though few have the guts to say it openly, is that I'm Jewish. Many of them don't like immigrants. I was born in the US, but my parents weren't. I'm as much an American as any of them are, but I'll never agree with their paranoia about immigration.
They act as if they're the only ones who die in our wars or pay taxes or do hard or meaningful work. They feel pretty sorry for themselves. They didn't care a bit for NY until it provided them with an excuse to hate other people. Shit, you would think they would applaud the act of terrorism that destroyed the twin towers and all those New Yorkers! I've never figured that one out. I thought they hated liberals who live in NY?
And by the way, I do care if people outside the United States hate us, if they're right. If they're wrong, fuck em. But I'm willing to listen.
And all my religious brothers and sisters in the flyover states, aren't you supposed to in some way attone for your sins? If you fuck up, and break one of the Commandments, aren't you supposed to ask god to forgive you? I may not be religious but I do believe in greater beings. I do believe if you screw someone, it'll come back to you, so if I find out I'm doing something wrong, I stop doing it as soon as I can. Now does it say in the Bible that the Commandments don't apply to Muslims or Liberals? Heh.
In the debate on Friday, you could tell that Obama cared if people in the flyover states hate him, that's why when he listed the costs of the senseless war in Iraq, he didn't include the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died or whose lives were ruined in the war. The displacement, the devastation caused by the war is something people in Flyover-Land don't want to hear about. But why shouldn't we talk about it anyway, even if they don't want to hear about it? That's been our mistake, us bluestaters, we worry too much about what they think, we coddle them, and encourage their ignorance and naivete, to the point where their leader, McCain, says we're naive. No sir, that's not accurate. He's trying to keep the people in the middle of the country from knowing the awful truth. We've done some horrible things, the United States of America. And we should have stopped a long time ago. Not because of the money it cost us, or the allies who doubt us, or the relatively small number of American lives that have been lost or ruined. We've grieved plenty for ourselves. We haven't begun grieving for the people who we have aggrieved.
We excuse a lot in the name of ignorance, but we are not actually ignorant. That's the disconnect, our hypocrisy. Just because you blindly and forcefully assert that you did nothing wrong doesn't mean you actually did nothing wrong.
Here's what we did that was wrong: After being attacked by people who live in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, we took it out on people who live in Iraq, who had nothing to do with the attack. We killed many of them and destroyed their country.
We say it's not our fault because we didn't vote for Bush, but if you're an adult, you know that's not how it works. You and I, because we are Americans, are responsible for what America does. Once you realize that, you can't not talk about it.
Now for the good news. You can see the awakening beginning to happen, and its the looming financial collapse that's making it possible. On This Week, you could see George Will, Robert Reich and Newt Gingrich agreeing that the US needs to invest (key word there) in education, health care and infrastructure. Bing! Exactly right. At least 20 years too late, but better late than never.
People in Flyover Land, when you lose your manufacturing jobs and are reduced to government handouts, think about how we can work together, not who Did This To You -- for that we all need to look in the mirror. Boy were we blessed, we could have been really smart and worked together, but we didn't. Some of that is the bluestaters' fault because we cared too much about your hatred of us. So be it. That's the past. I believe we still have many blessings, and we're no worse off than anyone else on this planet. But we're also no better than they are either. It's our hubris, our arrogance and ignorance that led us to believe that we were.
More than any other country, the United States is a product of and part of every other country on the planet. That's our legacy, and our strength, because to get here, our ancestors had to be smart, hard-working and brave. That's the advantage of America.