Thursday, February 03, 2005

This is God's Country

I've finally gotten around to reading "What's The Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank. I've only read the first chapter and have had something of a revelation. Frank was talking about the whole red-state/blue-state, two-nation paradigm when he mentioned how the Republicans acted like the huge swathes of red in the electoral map meant that they had won a huge mandate, even though the election was technically a tie.

A lot of people have made fun of this attitude by pointing out the obvious point that, in America, it is people, not land, that votes. But I found myself doing a sub-conscious Lakoffian analysis on the metaphors Frank was talking about. That's when it dawned on me: many Republicans actually do believe that political power derives more from the land than from the people (an echo of the original foundations of our Republic in which the right to vote was based on ownership of land.).

For the Republicans, land is more real than people. People are unreliable. Land is solid. People cannot be trusted. Land will always be there.

Furthermore, people who live in rural areas have a greater Land per Person ratio. This means that rural people see themselves as smaller in comparison to the Land than do those who live in over-crowded cities. This explains the characterization of rural people as more humble then city dwellers. The former are humbled by the vistas they see around them while the latter can't appreciate the gift of the small parcel that has been doled out to them.

But, at the same time, the Land per Person ratio also gives rise to a sense of greater authority. For, after all, didn't God give The Land to The People to dominate? Rural people have a wider swathe of Land to dominate. That means that God gave them the greater portion of the Land and thus the greater authority.

The rural resident is humble in comparison to the size of the Land around them, but they also have a greater sense of moral authority because God has granted them so much of the Land to control. The city folk are egotistical because they are so much larger than the Land over which they have authority. But they are also more insecure because God has given them less authority over The Land.

City people are cursed by their small parcels. Rural people are blessed by their large parcels.

Once again, it all comes down to size.


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