Will the “Real Virginia” Please Stand Up?


On Saturday, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer said McCain would do well in the "real Virginia" which, by her definition, means anyplace south of NoVa. Which would seem to include the Obama-leaning Charlottesville, no?

Keep it real, Nancy? Yes we can.

Actually, I have a feeling Ms. Pfotenhauer was referring to Virginians like this Tidewater woman, interviewed recently on PBS’s NOW. (The entire segment, about whether Virginia will turn blue, is worth watching.)

I’ll let the woman’s reasoning (or lack thereof) speak for itself. What I want to say here is, can we please stop this stupid, hateful, juvenile nonsense about "real" Virginians and "pro-America" parts of the country, to use Palin’s term? Okay, I’ll admit NoVa is something of a cultural wasteland — but so is the god-awful stretch of road northwest of Richmond that Mr. Slowpoke and I drove down in search of gas last week. On one side of the highway: Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. On the other: the most hellacious fake-town architecture I have ever seen in my life. I think they were new condos. I believe my comment to Mr. Slowpoke was "This is the end of the world." Wasilla, Alaska is apparently a giant strip mall now too, thanks in part to Palin. But I digress.

The Republicans are good at tapping into American mythologies of the "authentic" and milking them for all they’re worth. They rely on a rural/urban binary that stereotypes everything from the country as real and true, and everything from the city as fake. This is why we get so many politicians ass-kissing "the heartland." Interestingly, the new pop-sociology demographic of "Wal-Mart Moms" is seen as the pinnacle of small-town, working class authenticity, when in fact Wal-Mart is destroying small towns and the working class. Oh the irony!

You know, as a teenager I worked as a waitress in a family restaurant, serving hog maw to a blue-collar clientele in small-town Pennsylvania. Maybe I should run for office.


Obama will make two appearances in the Commonwealth with Mark Warner on Wednesday. The pair will be in Richmond in the morning and Leesburg in the afternoon. Unfortunately I’m unable to make it to Richmond this time, but will be paying attention to coverage of the day’s events.