Memo From The Tundra To New York: Get Over Yourselves
Along with the hot air and swamp gas of the runup to the Iowa caucuses, we hear and see a lot of stuff in the papers (and from people who should know better) that can be more or less characterized as the following whinge:
"Why is a place in flyover country, the dark space between N'Yaark and Los Angeles that's mostly made up of white bread bible thumpers, hillbilly klan types, meth crazed whackozoids in pickup trucks, animal buggeristas and divers categories of midwestern dimwits get to do the initial sort of presidential hopefuls? I mean, no diversity to speak of and nothing important has happened there since 1857 more or less, if ever, which is a dubious proposition. Let the Big Places Make The Big Decisions And Let The Flyover Types Be, Well, Flown Over. Sheesh."
The hubris is unmistakable, as is the implication that if N'Yaark is not the navel of the universe it damned well should be. It smacks of social darwinisim of the kind that Herbert Spencer peddled but I digress.
Jules Steinberg, the eminent cartoonist, captured that in his now famous cover of March 29, 1976, which we reproduce for your delectation.
The attitude's pervasive. I was watching an episode of House Hunters last night (we do have televisions, y'know, and cable and that there internet) and it featured a couple living in Jersey City who wanted to buy a crib in Manhattan and do it on $400k. The real estate agent, a N'Yaarker, opined that he was not licensed to flog his wares in New Jersey, didn't care to be, and considered Jersey City "the tundra".
The takehome from the show was that the couple bought in Jersey City and the N'Yaark sophisticate got no commission from people over in the Tundra.
I think the Grant Wood painting here seems apropos-it's titled "The Appraisal" and it depicts a farm woman with a fat hen listening to the city lady's pitch for said fat hen with a certain amount of cynicism.
One of the reasons we're First Here is because we're first and despite caviling and whingeing from New York and similar tottering edifices, we're first. It is what it is. Get over yourselves.
That would usually be enough to silence most doubters and midnight skulkers but hey! This is the age of the internet.
Sure, it is kinda whitebread (not necessarily always a bad thing), and it is pretty spread out in winter, and we do drive a lot of pickup trucks, and we're slow to anger, and we're not embarrassed to salute the flag or stand up for a lady, and some of us start nearly every sentence with "well, down on the farm Dad allus said..." and there are an unseemly number of men named Galen and Eldon, but we take an interest in the affairs and processes of governing.
We want to see our-and your- potential leaders up close and personal, and not for a weekend either. We want to see politics sold retail like a fan belt for the Farmall or the blue plate special at the North Side Cafe. When the candidates come here, we make sure they're fit to go the distance and by the time the good people of New Hampshire step up to the plate the candidates will stand naked before the electorate, exposed for all the world to see-as Mr. Santorum was recently.
That raises another point. Judging by the level of participation in the primary circuit and the general elections in the rest of the country, Mr. Lupica and the rest of his similarly inclined crew of whiners and kvetchers might as well clean up their own Augean stable of public indifference before bitching, as they do every four years, about how we do things here.