One Republican assertion I consistently hear is a distinction between “real America” and what I guess is less real America. “Real America” has small towns, it’s more rural, and moves at a slower pace than our cities. Democrats get upset over this, and some of them who I have tons of respect for, including Jon Stewart and Dan Black : ). While it bothers me too, I have come to think that Republicans have a little bit of a point here, even if it is often crudely made and upsettingly exclusionary.
The fact is that an important part of our national identity, of any nation’s identity, is a connection to the land. Those that are more part and parcel with this land will feel, for better or ill, more “purely” American, especially when those less connected to the land seem to disagree with them on a number of important political and religious issues. For example, you cannot easily separate the Swiss national identity from their mountains. What is Japan, without the sea and fish? What is Australia, without their enormous tracts of dry land populated with Kangaroos and dingos? Likewise, what is America without the rockies, great plains, or the rolling hills of Appalachia?
Our political divide is not between blue states and red states. Maps of county results for the last several presidential elections shows, with exceptions of course, solid blue cities surrounded by seas of red. In 2008 for example, plenty of red counties are seen in places like rural New York and California. Cities like Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, Cinicinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, and tons more, (look at the Florida cities) are surrounded by red. Look at the isolation of Lincoln, Nebraska, Kansas City and Wichita. Look at Virginia, which went for Obama in 2008. It’s so red!
Republicans have a right to think, in a small way, that their connection to the land entitles them to being automatically an important part of our national identity. However, America is much much more than our land. Our collective identity is and should be found more in principles like equality and opportunity, and should depend on all citizens, regardless of where they live. Those who divide the country between real and fake America are the ones acting un-American as they prove they do not understand the hierarchy of American values. But I suppose I contradict myself. I am willing to assert that others are unAmerican, based on what I think is important. So I guess my point is this: If you are going to call people un-American, please do so thoughtfully.