Progressive Revival

Governor Palin and her brand of Republicanism are about to overcook my grits.


She and those who drink from the same mug have decided that you are not a real American, maybe you are even anti-American, if you either don’t have the same views as they do or you are from the wrong part of the nation, or both… I’m a little confused as to the specific criteria.


I think I may be fine since I was born and raised in Mississippi even though I have lived in Washington, DC for quite a few years.


I worry, though, about my two boys. They were both born and are being raised inside the beltway so I don’t think they are fully American in the eyes of Governor Palin, Congressman Robin Hayes (R-NC), Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (R-MN) and all their friends. And this is what is scorching my grits.


But first, this is what Governor Palin said late last week:


“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”


What does she call Brazil, MS? Is it real America or does that community’s name disqualify the Brazilians of the Mississippi Delta?


Then Governor Palin’s spokesperson added this on October 18:


[Pfotenhauer] acknowledged [McCain’s] difficulties in Northern Virginia but said the region is not “real Virginia.” She added, “The rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message,” Nancy Pfotenhauer said.


So, if you are for Senator McCain or from an area largely supporting Senator McCain they you are “real.”


Over the weekend North Carolina Republican Robin Hayes said this:


“Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”


Okay… so if you are a liberal you hate real Americans who work and believe in God. What if you are also from northern Virginia, don’t work and don’t believe in God? Do you have to move to another country?


And Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, the Republican of Minnesota, on Chris Matthews this past Friday emphatically pontificated the following:


“Barack Obama didn’t have a mild association with Bill Ayers, he had a very strong association with Bill Ayers.” She then went on to say, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”


So being 8 years-old at some point in the 1970’s may be a bad thing because a guy you would meet decades later was doing bad things during the disco era. I often wonder if Senator Obama and I ever listened to My Sharona at the same time. But what if Senator Obama, Bill Ayers and I listened to My Sharona at exactly the same time? Does that then disqualify my Mississippi roots and make me anti-American?


Governor Palin, Congressman Hayes and Congresswoman Bachman need to check their language. And they need to re-examine the meaning, beauty and greatness of our nation.


We are a patchwork quilt, a Baptist blanket, of families and communities that have come from all over the globe to become real Americans.


Our ancestors may have arrived prior to the First Continental Congress or our families may have immigrated through Ellis Island in the last century. Some of us may have risked our very lives on sinking rafts and some of us may have risked great fortunes. But, we are all real Americans.


My little boys are very much American. My first grader has been singing “This Land is Your Land” to me. He has been learning it each morning in the DC Public Schools. They play a lot of soccer, I prefer baseball but you should have heard them cheering for Michael Phelps during the Summer Olympics.


I fear that somehow Governor Palin, Congressman Hayes, Congresswoman Bachman and their ideological friends have allowed scales to cover their eyes. They have been led astray by the sound of their own politics and they sadly find exceptionalism only from their own voices, their own mirror image of America.


Think about how limiting this is… think about all the potential and real American dreams that would never be realized through such a narrow vision of our great nation. They have allowed the values we hold dear, as one nation, to be tossed to the ditch in place for the rigid orthodoxy they prefer to proclaim.


Over 20 years ago, the late, great Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was speaking to the Baptist Joint Committee and was asked how to properly articulate values in government. Her response went something like this (and I paraphrase but wouldn’t you love to hear her voice right now say these words):


“You would be well to pursue your causes with vigor, while remembering that you are a servant of God, not a spokesperson for God and remembering that God may choose to bless an opposing point of view for reasons that have not been revealed to you.”


I hope Governor Palin, Congressman Hayes, Congresswoman Bachman and all their friends will stop their divisive, ugly cultural warfare… it so belittles them as they sound like a throwback to earlier elections and instead embrace our real American values and find all Americans to be real and all pockets to be real American places.



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