Sunday, March 06, 2005

Red State, Blue State

Red State, Blue State

This is a link to a link to an original so I'm fourth hand here which sets some kind of personal record. The subject is the culture shock of Blue Staters visting Red States:

As a Blue-Stater in a Red State (or an urbanite in a rural area) there's really no acceptable reaction to your new surroundings. Either you sneer and note the lack of Vietnamese restaurants/museums/sample sales, and you're an elitist ("What, corn dogs again?"), or you bubble over with David Brooksian enthusiasm for wholesome exurbia, in which case you're seen as smug and patronizing, or as pro-rural only to make a political point ("Mmm, corn dogs!"). A rural person visiting a city can act either awed or horrified, and either reaction is generally considered to be understandable. So what's a stranded-feeling, smile-forcing Blue American to do?

The original blog is named What Would Phoebe Do which plants it firmly in the Blue. The commentary, mostly at Washington Monthly, is very "navel gazing" as one commenter puts it - which makes it again Blue.

I'm rural with an asterisk: planted in Iowa but in the deepest blue point in the state, a little piece of academia dropped in the middle of a corn field. I had my own urban/rural divide today: I visited a small unincorporated town a dozen miles south of Iowa City.

On my bicycle.

Bikes are a HUGE urban-rural splitter. The bikers that passed me all said hi or some variation. The trucks seemed to speed up. And a couple times I got The Look.

I lived in a small town not too far from my bike destination for a couple years and The Look was one of the big things that drove me away. When you go into the corner store, and the older guys are sitting there drinking their coffee (brewed and 40 cents a cup, none of this fancy ex-presso stuff) and they don't know who your grandfather was - they give you The Look. These guys don't like bikes or especially bike trails. The argument we bikers hear is litter and safety. But having campaigned among them - and lost - I really think it's a gut property rights thing. They don't want any city folk "trespassing" on their back 40.

And city folk we are. You can bet a triple mocha that virtually all the bike trips began and ended on the Iowa City end - if I was headed north and I saw someone headed south, they weren't going home, they just got a later start than I did. If you were starting the journey on the south end of the county it was probably on a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle.

I hope I don't sound smug and superior - now I'm navel gazing. Anyway it was a great day for a ride and my legs really hurt now.

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