There was one post yesterday, “What Do The Simple Folk Do?”:
Brad DeLong writes about pundits like Niall Ferguson who fantasize about a vast class of regular people — Real Americans — who practice traditional values, don’t eat fancy food, and vote for good, family-values Republicans who promise war. I’m surprised that he doesn’t mention Andrew Sullivan after 9/11:
The middle part of the country – the great red zone that voted for Bush – is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -and may well mount a fifth column.
As Brad is, I think, suggesting, this whole line is both wrong and disreputable on several levels. For one thing, these Real Americans are in fact a quite small minority, smaller, in fact, than the nonwhite population. For another, the idea that non-college-educated whites are — or ever were! — a repository of traditional values and virtues is silly. Some are, some aren’t; they’re people, with all the variety you see among people of any class or ethnic group.
But most of all, this kind of punditry, while ostensibly praising the Real America, is in fact marked by deep condescension. One pats the simple folk on the head, praising their lack of exposure to quinoa or Thai food — both of which can be found in food courts all across the country. Sorry, but there are no country bumpkins in modern America. Most of us, in all walks of life, have a pretty good sense of the full range of things our culture offers, even if too many can’t afford to participate in some of it. You might even say that the only segment of our society that seems truly unaware of how others live is a certain segment of the commentariat, blinded by its simultaneous romanticization of and contempt for working-class white America.