Undermining the Patriarchy Every Chance I Get. And I Get a Lot of Chances
The Politics of Contempt
@BenjySarlin is right: Although today Mitt Romney told a crowd in Las Vegas that, "I'm convinced that the path [Obama's] put us on is the path to Europe. Or, I jokingly say...to California," it's difficult to imagine Obama telling a crowd, even jokingly, that, "I'm convinced that the path Romney would put us on is the path to Mississippi." And if he did, the outrage would be unending.
Old Dr. Jung was onto something when he wrote about shadows and projection. For decades, the political Right has loudly insisted that the political Left holds "regular Americans" in contempt. (They've been admirably vague about precisely who is a "real" American; allows everyone to image that they must be insulting someone else.) Spiro Agnew announced that Americans who opposed the war in Viet Nam were an "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." The Moral Majority whipped up lower-income, white Christians by implying that an "immoral minority" of snobby liberals looked down on the "moral majority" as it eroded "American values." George W. Bush, a child of generations of financial and educational privilege, ran as a brush-clearing Texas rancher with whom you'd love to have a beer, against John Kerry as a rich, "French," jet-skiing (apparently, only rich liberals jet ski) liberal. (We'll just ignore the fact that Bush bought that ranch just before beginning his political campaign, cleared brush only in front of the media, and sold the ranch immediately upon leaving the White House.) Despite decades of economic policies that hurt working-class Americans, the Right has been able to paint the Left as made up of arugula-eating, latte-drinking, snobs.
In the current campaign season, the Right has oddly let slip the pleasant veneer of regular-guy-respect for the middle class. The slippage has been evident for some time (see, e.g., Anne Romeny's discussion of "You People"), but it went mainstream overnight when Mother Jones released a tape of Mitt Romney talking at a private fundraiser to "his base<" -- people who could afford to attend a $50,000 a plate fundraiser at the home of a hedge fund manager with a taste for sex parties. (Hey, I belong to a religion that believes that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess, but I do wonder how this is supposed to go over with those middle-class "value voters," the old "moral majority" people who hate sex unless it's being enjoyed by Sarah Palin's abstinence-supporting, unmarried daughter or a hedge fund manager who raises money for a Mormon millionaire.)
What does all of this have to do with Pagans? The vast majority of American Pagans are lower- to middle-class people. Many Pagans choose to do work that they love, even if it doesn't make them wealthy. Others scrape by on Tarot readings, healing services, selling herbal concoctions. The sight of a respected Pagan elder having to beg money on the internet to cover medical expenses has become far too common. And, of course, there's the almost absolute intolerance of the Right for minority religions.
Early voting opened today in many states and election day is a mere forty-some days away. It's time to stop voting for people who hold us in contempt. Conservative Pagans who can't find it in their heart to vote for Barack Obama (as a Progressive, I share their reluctance, although from another direction) should be aware that they have other options. Gary Johnson is running as a Libertarian. Virginians can vote for Virgil Goode, running as the Constitution Party candidate. I think their policies will hurt middle-class Pagans, as well, but at least they don't claim that those Pagans "don't care about their own lives," as Romney did.
Watch for a future post concerning voting for environmental values.
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