We see it every day. It's everywhere. It's us versus them. Is it race, class, gender, sexual orientation, my religion or lack of it versus yours? Is it income, accent, education, gender? Yes. It's all of these things and more. Are we polarized? Yes. More than any time since the 1960s. Only this time it's the White Right wearing teabags and holstered handguns that's taken to the streets. So I'm trying to understand the Tea Party mentality. I'm trying to understand why these poor souls are being led around by the likes of Dick Armey, Koch Industries, and the John Birch Society.
The saddest part of this polarization is the belief that the American Dream is about wealth and that it's within reach of everyone. All you have to do is come up with a good idea and put your shoulder to the wheel, and you could be the next Bill Gates. And if not, you could win the lottery. That's bullshit, but almost everybody buys it. And it's why the Teabaggers (who think of themselves as the "Real America;" Sarah Palin's America, the great, now mostly mythical, white, middle-class) are willing to give huge tax breaks to the very very rich. They believe that they too, can become filthy fucking rich, and they will want to keep their imagined someday riches all to themselves. And when they are finally really really rich, they won't give a shit about the poor elderly, or the poor immigrants, or the unemployed, or the homos. They'll think, "I got mine. If I can do it so can you, you lazy bum."
This "Real America" watches Fox News pretty much exclusively. (Utah is an example of the Real America; in every public place with a TV on, it's turned to Fox News.) They listen to the twin gods in their political universe: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They consider themselves religious folk even though they don't go to church much, but their Christian religion is the Real American Religion, and thou shalt have no other gods by god, or you are un-American and you don't know that Christianity is our state religion, you dangerous, socialist, ignorant, multi-lingual Nazi kike raghead beaner bastard, you. Speak English like a Real American.
They are fiercely anti-immigrant and have no idea that they are all illegal immigrants in the eyes of the few remaining Native Americans who managed to survive the internment camps, broken treaties, and genocide. These "Real Americans" are mistrustful of people who don't look like them. ( Like Native Americans for instance. They look a lot like Mexicans, those indians.) What they don't realize is that anyone who is filthy rich wouldn't give them the time of day, would see them as the great unwashed masses. These Real Americans don't realize that the Filthy Rich don't identify with them the way they identify with the Filthy Rich. It's an unrequited love. And as much as they identify with the rich, and parrot the political ideology of the rich (which they don't entirely understand) they mistrust the well-educated and don't quite realize that getting the right education at the right schools is one of the pathways toward becoming not exactly rich, but at least middle-class. The job market has contracted. Remember when the filthy rich were exporting all the tech and manufacturing jobs overseas? Those jobs are gone forever. But there are two wars still on and private contractors are probably still hiring. Too bad they're looking for linguists.
We gave the filthy rich the right to do whatever they wanted with no regulation during the reign of GWB, because he was a guy we Real Americans could imagine having a beer with, because he talked like an ignorant uneducated cracker from Texas. He wore cowboy boots. God Bless America! We're Number One! And since the Real America doesn't like to read history much, the Real America didn't realize GWB was an elite with a good education (even if he was a lazy student) from a life of incredible privilege and vast inherited wealth. He had the worlds best contacts, even if he did sound like a hick. And even if it didn't work out so well last time, they still want to do it again. Why? Because rich white people will look after us, right? Because it's us versus the un-white, right?
No, not this time either, because it's stiil just class warfare. Ask Shirley Sherrod.