Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Friday, April 30, 2004
The Red and the Blue, Part Two
I'm going to skip over some paragraphs regarding the dividedness of American political life mainly because I can't make fun of them. So here we go again:

When Catholic University political professor John Kenneth White says that Kerry and Bush are navigating for votes in "parallel universes," the universe of Stein is the one in which the president is Republican, the U.S. senators are Republicans, the congressman is Republican, the county commissioner is Republican, the Inspector of Hides and Animals is Republican, the neighbors are Republicans, the friends are Republicans, and the mayor is a Republican named David Wallace, who says of Sugar Land: "When you drive around here, you get the sense that you're in Utopia."

And I thought Hyde Park was ideologically uniform. I can point to three Republicans in my dorm alone!

Brick homes, clean streets, good schools, plentiful churches -- "it's the typical white-picket-fence, 2.1-children atmosphere," Wallace says of Sugar Land. No litter, landscaped boulevards, approved-plant lists, recommended-rose lists, strict zoning, a town square called "Town Square," logos everywhere, and the ever-present smell of just-mown grass

Oddly enough, this does sound like Utopia--the book, I mean. But are they required to switch houses every ten years?

in a voting precinct that went Bush 72 percent, Gore 25 percent -- this is the landscape of Stein, whose path here can be condensed to this:
In 1977, he bought a pair of hedge trimmers for $25. A month later, he went back to the same store and bought a second pair of trimmers, but now they were $30.

Emphasis on the manual labor, I see.

That's when he angrily learned about inflation and began paying attention to politics. Then he learned about the notion of American weakness during the Iranian hostage crisis. Then he learned about responding to a politician's message when Ronald Reagan talked of America's greatness coming from its people rather than government. Then, about the time thousands of people were said to be in danger of losing their jobs because of an endangered species of owl, he decided there are two kinds of Americans, those who live in the world of "emotion and feel good," and those, like him, who live in "the real world." And now his version of the real world is a two-story house in a neighborhood of like-minded people, where he begins every day by turning on his computer.

There's a long bit about which websites Stein visits each day, and it's tedious, so I'm just going to skip ahead to breakfast:

Stein's breakfast is scrambled eggs over congealed grits fried in butter, and coffee that comes not in bean form but already ground and is brewed not through natural brown paper filters but unnatural white ones.

You know, that actually sounds pretty good. I hope he has good health coverage, though.

" 'Melitta plants four trees for every one used in the production of our filter paper,' " he says, reading the side of the box of filters. He puts the box back in the cabinet. "I could care less."

There's a reason Stein said this--to differentiate himself from the "feel-good" liberals out there? To shock the (presumably) liberal reporter? It's not something that one would remark upon in everyday conversation if one really "could care less".

Stein's lunch is a brisket-and-sausage barbecue sandwich

Wait. What kind of brisket? What kind of sausage? I haven't had good barbeque since last summer.

in a restaurant where he wonders what people categorized by pollsters as Blue Americans would think about him. I would guess they would say I am mean-hearted and mean-spirited. They'd probably think I'm for big business at the expense of poor people. They'd think we want to hurt the poor, hurt the environment, do away with the school system. They'd think that we believe everybody should be able to own Uzis or any kind of gun, and that we want to impose God on them," he says, and then says what he thinks of them:

"Some of what they're saying may be found on good intentions, but a closer look will show it's really not going to work. Their solutions come from government rather than from themselves. . . . Every year they take more and more and more money. And when you see some of these programs, and you're paying thousands of dollars into them, at some point resentment begins to build."

He has a point. Maybe "Red Americans" and "Blue Americans" should try to, you know, figure out which government programs work and which don't, and how we can fix those that don't work, and... wait. Congress gets into the way there.

Stein's dinner is hamburgers with American cheese, salad and Tater Tots.
He gas-grills the burgers while the salad is assembled by Patrice, Stein's wife of 23 years and counting. They met when he saw her standing on an apartment balcony and presumed to tell her how to water her plants. Now, three children later, he oversees their business's landscape crews and she manages the office. He hunts on weekends, and she makes gumbo with deer sausage. He drives the truck, she drives the minivan. He takes the La-Z-Boy, she takes the couch.

Look at the Red Stater's division of gender roles! And--did you mention hunting? How declass?!

(Frankly, though, I know of a few rather high-priced restaurants in Chicago that serve deer meat--except they call it by the highfalutin' name of venison.)

And I think I'm going to stop this installment of "The Red and the Blue" here.

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