An open letter from Fake America

John McCain has identified the locations of those anti-patriotic fake Americans who think they’re better than humble “real” Americans in an interview with running mate Sarah Palin and MSNBC’s Brian Williams, and it’s pretty much exactly where you thought they’d be.

WILLIAMS: Who is a member of the elite?

PALIN: Oh, I guess just people who think that they’re better than anyone else. And– John McCain and I are so committed to serving every American. Hard-working, middle-class Americans who are so desiring of this economy getting put back on the right track. And winning these wars. And America’s starting to reach her potential. And that is opportunity and hope provided everyone equally. So anyone who thinks that they are– I guess– better than anyone else, that’s– that’s my definition of elitism.

WILLIAMS: So it’s not education? It’s not income-based? It’s–

PALIN: Anyone who thinks that they’re better than someone else.

WILLIAMS: –a state of mind? It’s not geography?

PALIN: ‘Course not.

WILLIAMS: Senator?

MCCAIN: I– I know where a lot of ’em live. (LAUGH)

WILLIAMS: Where’s that?

MCCAIN: Well, in our nation’s capital and New York City. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived there. I know the town. I know– I know what a lot of these elitists are. The ones that she never went to a cocktail party with in Georgetown. I’ll be very frank with you. Who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves.

Now, before the “oh, he didn’t mean you guys” backpedaling begins, let me clarify a few things.

  • I live in New York City.  I’ve lived here since 2005, after living in Baltimore, the Atlantic City area and Las Vegas.  As mentioned before, I graduated high school in a town with a population one-third that of Wasilla, Alaska.
  • I do not have a college degree.
  • I have a full-time job, and I earn less than $50,000 per year.  I am neither poor or wealthy.
  • I am Caucasian.  Very, very Caucasian.  You couldn’t be any whiter than me unless you’re descended from Vikings.
  • My father and paternal grandfather both served in the United States Army.  My maternal grandfather was a Navy SeaBee.  I come from a long line of working class folks.  My mother didn’t even finish high school.
  • I am a heterosexual parent of one school-age child.  She attends a public school.
  • I am a non-practicing Catholic.
  • As opposed to the widespread misconception of the “typical New Yorker,” I do not live in a sprawling loft in a hip neighborhood in Manhattan.  I live in a modest apartment in Brooklyn, in a quiet, working class neighborhood so unhip it doesn’t even have a Starbucks.  I also don’t spend time with rich art snob friends at cocktail parties and gallery openings.  When you’re a working parent free time to yourself comes at a premium.  The majority of my friends are working class folks, some with children, some without.

Golly, you know, if you look at this list, you might think I’m one of those “real Americans” John McCain and Sarah Palin empathize with and support.  I donate to charities and do volunteer work.  I even attend PTA meetings and make muffins for school bake sales.  Except I live in New York, and apparently if you live in New York your opinion doesn’t count as much as people who live in, say, Des Moines or Kansas City.  New Yorkers are too busy being snotty and dictating what other people should think and do to be considered part of “real America.”  OH WAIT, except it’s not the New York liberal elite who want to tell people who they can or can’t marry, or want to deny a woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy, or control access to birth control.  Repeat that part about people “who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves,” please? I don’t think I heard you correctly.

I wonder when John McCain stopped listening to himself when he speaks.  At what point did he say “I’m just going to say whatever I want, fuck it”? My guess is right around the time Barack Obama took a double-digit lead in the polls.  Does he realize the audacity of invoking the names of the two cities targeted on September 11th for political gain, then turning around and pissing on them when it became clear he couldn’t count on them for votes? He has to, he’s not a stupid man.  Stubborn and past his prime, but not stupid.  He’s going to spend the last days of his campaign insulting those who are voting against him rather than reinforcing the confidence of his supporters, and he’s going to do it in the most lazy, juvenile way possible, by resorting to stereotypes and misconceptions.  He honestly thinks the only reason people don’t like Sarah Palin is because she’s from a small town? A large percentage of New York’s population consists of people who aren’t originally from there.  Many of us came from small towns.  I grew up in a town where one of the most popular hangouts for teenagers was a gravel pit.  It didn’t get a movie theater until 1984.  People move to New York City because they’re seeking better education, better jobs, better culture, better opportunities that may not be available in a small town.  If wanting to improve your life is “elitist,” then I guess that makes me elitist, so be it.  It sounds profoundly American to me, but what do I know?

Where Sarah Palin comes from has nothing to do with my dislike for her.  I wouldn’t care if she grew up in a cave in the Appalachian Mountains and was raised by bears, if I thought she would make a competent world leader who had everyone’s best interests in focus, she’d have my support.  Instead, the remote possibility that she could be President someday fills my heart with a kind of dread and terror the Saw series can only dream of.  I’d feel the same way if she was from New York City herself.  I wouldn’t vote for Rudolph Giuliani either.

McCain’s legacy once this election is over is willingly encouraging more animosity between his and his opponent’s supporters than any other U.S. election in recent history.  It no longer matters that you vote for him, but that you vote against Obama, preferably while sneering at his supporters at the same time.  After all, they think they’re better.  That animosity will linger for a long time, I fear.  The goodwill expressed towards New York City in the period following September 11th, that “we’re all New Yorkers today” bullshit, it could only last so long.  Now it’s MCCAIN TO CITY: DROP DEAD.  The funny thing is, those “real Americans” McCain and Palin love so much, they sure don’t have a problem spending their tourist dollars here.  No, sir, they love visiting Fake Americaland, going to Times Square, watching The Lion King on Broadway, taking pictures of the construction site where the World Trade Center once stood.  But you know, it’s not like Colonial Williamsburg, where the “townspeople” who are scattered about to add local flavor are actors in costumes.  There’s not a cast list that goes out every morning with assignments as to who’s going to play ‘Colorful Street Musician’ or ‘Pakistani Cab Driver.’  They’re people with jobs, families, responsibilities, problems just like any other American.  To say that we’re not a part of America that really matters, that essentially no one cares what we think, is unacceptable and unconscionable.


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