Monday, November 9, 2015

California's Country Kids

Victor-Davis Hanson takes a California perspective about the experiential roots of the city kid/country kid divide over at City Journal.

I don't know that all of his examples are as diagnostic as he makes them out to be.

In the manner of ancient genres of the pastoral and georgic, the more urban culture grows, the more it romanticizes the rarely visited countryside. What is the attraction of reality TV, especially of the white, blue-collar people that appear in Deadliest CatchIce TruckersDuck Dynasty, or Axe-Men, replete with rural accents, bib overalls, short tempers, propensities to swear and to fight, and lots of broken-down and often dangerous equipment? Are the good ratings based on urban viewers’ vicarious desire to experience hard nature? Or is the draw anthropological, as if the rural white American in Alaska or the Everglades is a rare species not fully understood but fascinating in his natural habitat? Or are these shows therapeutic and condescending reminders that city folks are clearly superior and still have their teeth, solve problems without screaming, watch their weight, and speak a recognizable, standard English? 
Urbanites now prefer natural granite counters to tile, wood floors to nylon carpets, and stainless-steel appliances to artificial white enamels. But these supposedly natural tastes don’t lead to a greater appreciation of the miner, the logger, or the fabricator—much less of the abstract idea that before there exists a polished floor or counter in the city, lots of messy operations are needed to force nature to give up its bounty. Like bored Hellenistic court poets who romanticized shepherds’ lives in never-visited Arcadia, Silicon Valley techies like to wear heavy-duty hiking boots and flannel and drive four-wheel-drive SUVs with mud tires. The cause of the delta smelt or the San Joaquin Valley salmon fills a spiritual need for the Sierra Club activist; the livelihood of the Hispanic grape pruner in Caruthers and the poor children of the field irrigator in Five Points do not. 
Add all this up, and these days rural man is more likely to be conservative and thus Republican, his urban counterpart liberal and logically Democratic. Freedom is the former’s creed; the equality and sameness of the co-op are the latter’s.

I would argue that  the infantilization of the American youth voter is a cultural moment that will pass, as the children of helicoptering late Boomer parents find themselves thrown upon their own resources.  Maybe they will demand that government pick-up the tab of their upkeep, but I think they will learn what it means to be independent.  If, for no other reason, the size of the budget is already too large to add their upkeep and remain solvent.

Still, the message to city kids is that this is how the divide is viewed from the rural perspective and the land outside the suburb is populated by your marginalized fellow citizens.  Those fellow citizens are worthy of your respect and their voice should be heard, not silenced.

We should learn from their experiences and not force their views to conform with our own.

Different views rooted in different experiences united by mutual respect and local governance.

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