This is a sad post. I have been thinking about it since last summer, when I happened to be flying across the country. I was over, I'd guess, western Kansas or Oklahoma, or eastern Colorado. I looked down and here is what I saw, repeated over and over again:
A small town of a few dozen blocks, in the middle of endless irrigated fields and scrub land. I began to think of the people who lived down there, and what life had offered them.
This particular town happens to be Holcomb, Kansas, whose name some of you may recognize, as it was the location of the murders made famous in In Cold Blood. Here are a couple of street views of Holcomb:
This is a view taken from the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Ave.- the main intersection in town.
Here's another major intersection in Holcomb.
I was going to post a few pictures from other similar small towns scattered all across the center of our country, but I think this is enough for people to get the point I want to make.
My very middle class family and I live in Los Angeles. Yesterday, we went to Chinatown and had a very good lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, where we have run into Magic Johnson, Brad Pitt, Bill Cosby and other such people. We are going to one of hundreds of clubs tonight to see a number of new indie bands. We are an hour away from the mountains, the desert and the beach. We have professional sports teams to see if that's what we like, and opportunities to take day trips to go skiing, surfing, backpacking and tons of other things. We have theaters and museums. Conventioneers and tourists flock to our cities because they want to be here. And if we were so inclined, you know that all of the drugs, cheap sex and any other kind of low life diversion are right there.
Now, think of the people, living in a place like Holcomb, having TV and movies every day showing them what kind of life is lived in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, constantly reminding them of the endless diversions in places like these, and rubbing their noses in the emptiness of their existence. And remember, that by and large all of these people have lived their lives just the way they were told to, working hard and trying to raise decent families. Imagine the desperation that these people must feel as they tell themselves that their church socials and high school basketball games are a decent substitute for all of the wonders that the world has to offer, and which they will never experience. Now think of them getting angrier and angrier as the years go by, as their lives go nowhere, and as they are taunted by the constant reminders of how much life has given to others. And yet, they are unable to put the pieces together and come to an understanding of how this happened to them.
These are the prey of the Republican party, of the Evangelical charlatans, of the conservatives. These are the people who are so desperate to comprehend their misery, the emptiness of their lives, that they will accept the lying, corrupt baiting of the Republicans as a rational explanation. It would never occur to Democrats to increase these people's misery by further exploiting them; it is the stuff of life to Republicans.
These are the teabaggers, the tax protesters, the Sarah Palin fans. The red haze of anger blots out any real vision of the truth, and they are succumbing to the demagogues. They threaten us all as they writhe in their misery.