Authenticity Watch: The Heartland


Thomas Frank’s column in today’s WSJ does a good job of setting up my piece in the print edition of Maclean’s out tomorrow. Here’s Frank:

Small town people, Mrs. Palin went on, are “the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars.” They are authentic; they are noble, and they are her own: “I grew up with those people.”


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Authenticity Watch: The Heartland

  1. I wish I was authentic. sniff.

  2. I was born and raised in a town of 400 in Northern Ontario. I knew how to snare rabbits before I got my training wheels off. I had pet bears. The first time I saw a subway station, I was old enough to buy cheap bourbon in the LCBO. And I did. Because that’s what real people do.

    All the rest of you are snobs and phonies. You make me sick.

  3. Authentically sick?

  4. I can’t believe WSJ gave the guy who wrote what’s the matter with people in kansas a regular column, it must be an attempt to let the left discredit itself.

    Frank is a peddler of false consciousness arguments that were behind the times 30 years ago, never mind now. The Dems have bought into this delusional thinking and it goes a long way to explaining why they keep losing elections, except for Clinton who stayed well away from this nonsense.

    Hey Obama, how’s that clinging to guns and god comment working out for you?

  5. I swear I just read this same article except it was a conservative wondering why African-Americans always vote for Democrats.

  6. Highly recommend Frank’s recent article in Harpers. It would make jwl’s toes curl if he could actually tolerate touching the magazine.

  7. Mr. Potter, throughout “Rebel Sell” you imply that this ridiculous belief about “authenticity” is exclusivly the provenance of left-wing urban-dwelling hipsters. But it seems to be just as common in right-wing, small-town people.

    Personally, I’m sick of the American notion that farmers are salt of the earth, “real” people, when the entire industry survives on massive subsidies from those fake, lazy Americans in New York and California.

  8. The WSJ piece is hardly controversial. While the two American parties aren’t all that different on the issues, Dem policies do provide better support for the “little guy”, rural and urban, over time.

    Repubs win rural votes through identity politics and by driving a culture war. It works. It works even better when Dems play along – they’re just not as good at play-acting rural as Repubs.

    Watch the news and count the number of Repubs with 8-figure salaries who drop their g’s and talk like just folks. Witness Mitt freakin’ Romney talking about shooting “varmints”… for he love of god, the man founded Bain Capital. He spent $45M of his own money in the Repub primaries. But he’s just a regular rural Joe.

    Dems keep talking policy, like the do-gooder nerds they are at heart. The WSJ article captures this: “If any farmer in the Plains States looked at McCain’s voting record on ag issues,” Mr. Teske says, “no one would vote for him.”

    The point is that Repub voters tend not to look at voting records or policy (I’m sure Dem voters do it too, but this article is about rural people voting against their economic self-interest). They watch the circus on tv and vote for the guy they identify with, year in and year out.

  9. Sarah — agree entirely.

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