Category Archive 'Red States'

10 Sep 2012

Parenting: Red State Style versus Blue State Style

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Oklahoma Legislator Rebecca Hamilton remembers being corrected by her working-class red state father.

I had been caught red-handed, abusing my horse. I had no idea what Daddy was going to do, but I expected something massive. What he did instead was much more effective.

“Becky Ann, you know better than that.” he said. That was all. He didn’t yell or threaten. He didn’t even ground me from riding; just, “you know better than that.” But it was enough. I have never abused an animal again.

Years before that, when I was a pre-schooler, I stole a pack of chewing gum from a store and got caught. Daddy didn’t yell at me. He took me back to the store and made me hand the gum to the clerk and say “I stole this.” That was a long time ago, but I can still feel the humiliation of that moment. Then, to add insult to injury, he bought the gum and gave it to me.

Another lesson learned. The temptation to steal left me that day and has never returned.

Daddy was teaching more than how to ride and care for a horse, more even than not to steal. He was teaching me a whole set of values. He was also, though neither of us was aware of it, teaching me about men. There wasn’t a plan in this. I feel confident that my daddy never read a single book on how to raise kids. He didn’t make dates to “have a talk” with me or attempt to manipulate me. He just talked to me as part of our daily interactions. Like I was a person. He spent time with me. That’s how he caught me with the stolen gum, how he saw me shoot water into Shorty’s ear; he was there.

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Robin Hustle,” in the course of a Jezebel feature titled “How to Tell Your Parents You’re a Prostitute,” describes her blue state parenting experiences.

I was a typical pink-diaper baby: I sat in on my mom’s feminist book clubs, we had family outings to protest U.S. imperialism in El Salvador, and I was into Joan Armatrading while my classmates were obsessed with New Kids on the Block. Fortunately, my crushing unpopularity was alleviated by a wonderful home life. All told, I can safely say I am a product of good parenting. I was encouraged, not coddled. I learned to be responsible at an early age by being given, within limits, a great deal of independence. My appreciation for my family goes well beyond their parenting skills. They aren’t guilty liberals who stir into action when an election or a war rolls around; they have always been fully engaged in living and working in radical ways. They never imposed their politics on me — my own politics mirror theirs because they taught me to think critically and set a powerful example of how to live. I’d be embarrassed by my uncanny similarity to my parents if I didn’t think they’re, well, totally amazing.

We rarely talked about sex, and lord knows I didn’t mind. When my kindergarten teacher called home in a huff to report that Marco Torres and I were having a horizontal make-out session in gym class, my parents sat me down and told me I could do whatever I wanted with kids my own age, so long as I didn’t do it at school. When I came out as queer in junior high, it was a blip on the family radar, though a few years later my parents felt obligated to ask if I was having safe sex, and then ask me to educate them on how lesbians have safe sex. While discussing non-monogamy a few years ago, my mom casually said “Well, I’ve never really cared about sex anyway,” which raised a host of disquieting questions that will forever go unasked. To each her own, I guess.

So, tell me, which culture do you think ought to win the culture war?

Hat tips (1) and (2) to Glenn Reynolds.

02 Apr 2011

Red State State-of-Mind

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Photo: Karen L. Myers
Our driveway, locusts, decrepit shed barn, Fogg Mountain in background. Photo: Karen L. Myers.

Liberals like Chauncy deVega and the editors of The Atlantic are feeling the shift of population and prosperity from preferred-by-the-educated-elite blue states to more rural and conservative red states and don’t like it one bit.

Cobb, in response, takes a shot at explaining why a lot of Americans, even some of the smart and well-educated flavor, much prefer red state backwaters to the fashionable metropolis where one breathes the air of international elite culture and feels every pulsebeat of contemporary fashionable opinion.

Poorer, less educated, less diverse all seem to be horrible deviations from a proper norm, but only in America. Because in the small towns just inside the Indiana border where the well-maintained Ohio roads suddenly get all gravelly, they still make more money than in 5/6ths of the world. They still have 12 years of free education, polio vaccines, orange juice in the winter, and electricity that hasn’t failed in 75 years.

Of course liberalism is shrinking, because the promises it thinks it can make to Americans who cling to Bibles and guns are too expensive and its benefits are so marginal that it finally realizes(?) it will never change all of those minds. There is no more low hanging fruit. There are no more economic rabbits (except in IT industrialization and bioengineering) to pull out of hats. There are already so many chickens in so many pots that the Left has to attack the chicken industry for operating so cheaply.

Somebody wrote of the culture of Japan in the post-tsunami aftermath that of course there was no looting and that everyone cooperated. Japan pulls together into a uniquely cohesive society, but same thing makes it fragile because there are not hundreds of acceptable ways to do the same thing. Japanese make smaller cars and live in smaller houses because they prefer the urban lifestyle that brings millions of them together in the ways they prefer to organize. They like to follow the same rules for everyone, the exact opposite of the American cowboy spirit. 75 years ago there, they all serve an emperor.

America resists totalitarianism because we have the opportunity to get out of Dodge. There’s someplace to go. We can migrate from the South to the North. We can move from East to West. And there are times when we want to be left alone, off the grid, answerable to nobody, off the plantation. It means we have to buy a truck that resists the dents and can go offroad, not a hybrid made for the carpool lane. It means we need to shop at the one Costco in the county once a month, not stroll through the galleria of shops in the CBD. It means we leave our email unanswered, not follow every tweet. It means we try not to follow the fashion of the top 40 as it changes every week, but maybe memorize something our great grandparents would have recognized. It means going downscale, spreading out and being robust and not being affected by the global supply chain that cascades its failures to every Tom, Dick and Harry because your name is Eustace. …

We will never know if red state of mind, independent America is as happy with their disconnected lives as those in the urban liberal cosmopolitan feng shui. But we will always know that riches are limited and that everybody cannot be better educated, richer, and more sophisticated than average. We will always know that the road towards totalitarianism is straight, well-paved and is designed for mass transit.

What is conservatism? It’s a lot of things. But it’s important to understand the limits of centrally standarized, synchronized, culture of singular progress of upward mobility. It always needs the attention and support of the masses, and it fails spectacularly.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.


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