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Let Me Apologize In Advance If The Phrase "Efffing Hick" Offends You. Now You Apologize For Trump



What does Jay-Z know? Probably a lot more about America than Doug Burgum does, like Lou Reed, Sinatra, Jay McInterney, Stevie Wonder, Langston Hughes, NWA, Tom Wolfe, Chrissie Hyde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Talking Heads, Amy Tan, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Lovin’ Spoonful, Elvis… Jay-Z can tell you that urban areas are deservedly known for their cultural richness and diversity and that the blending of different backgrounds, ethnicities and perspectives fosters a vibrant cultural exchange, leading to creativity, tolerance and a celebration of human differences. Do you value that? Jay-Z can tell you that urban values place a strong emphasis on inclusivity, respecting and valuing the contributions of all individuals, regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic background and that urban environments serve as hubs for innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological advancements. They attract talented individuals from various fields, fostering collaboration, competition, and the exchange of ideas. Urban values encourage the pursuit of knowledge, intellectual curiosity, and the drive to create positive change Do you value that? The constant interplay of diverse industries and disciplines fuels progress and leads to groundbreaking developments that benefit society as a whole. Jay-Z can tell you that the exposure to different perspectives and experiences challenges ingrained biases and promotes a broader understanding of the world and that urban environments are laboratories for social progress, where ideas, social movements, and advocacy for equality and justice are amplified. You know what else Jay-Z and these other artists could tell you? That urban areas provide greater access to a wide range of opportunities and resources, including education, healthcare, cultural institutions, job markets, and social services. Urban values acknowledge the importance of equal access to these resources, striving to create an environment where individuals can thrive and fulfill their potential, regardless of their background or circumstances. It's why millions orf rural kids flock to the cities to be themselves and to blossom and, in some cases, to contribute to humanity.


I’m sick of Doug Burgum and the political hacks like him who idealize the land of excessive opioid addiction, alcoholism, suicide rates… the land that was so filled with people too gullible and stupid to see through the transparent conman that America wound up ripped to shreds by one of the worst plagues visited on our country since the Civil War. Small town values? Like racism and anti-Semitism, religious bigotry and misogyny? Look, strong moral values are not a monopoly of small towns (nor any other geography or demographic). Moral values are found in every social context, including both small towns and big cities. The notion that small towns have stronger moral values is a perception or stereotype that's been perpetuated in far too many narratives and cultural depictions— and it’s far from a universal truth.


Last week, Paul Waldman called Burgum out for this crock and explained why America needs more candidates with big-city values (though not any who are named Trump). “Burgum,” he wrote, “did not announce his bid for the GOP presidential nomination by grabbing a guitar and crooning out the chorus to John Mellencamp’s Small Town, but he came awfully close. ‘I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota,’ he says at the opening of the video meant to introduce him to voters. After touting his business success, he concludes, ‘A kid from small town North Dakota: That’s America.’ Burgum is practicing a version of small-town identity politics. ‘Small-town values have guided me my entire life; small-town values are at the core of America,; he says. ‘And frankly, big cities could use more ideas and more values from small towns right now.’” Is that so, you fucking hick? You screw your cousin this week? Or a goat? Go to a MAGA rally?


The glorification of small towns is a familiar political trope, repeated so often that most of us don’t bother to question it. As one pair of scholars out it, “Rural America is sometimes viewed as a kind of safe-deposit box that stores America’s fundamental values.”
But it’s about time we do question it.
Imagine how refreshing it would be to hear a candidate touting their “big-city values” and explaining how important and useful the things they learned in the city can be. Plenty of U.S. presidents— William Howard Taft, Barack Obama, Donald Trump— came from cities. But they were more likely to extol the small towns they didn’t hail from than to argue that the city is where the tools of governing can also be cultivated.
What exactly are the small-town values that are supposed to be not only so admirable, but also so useful for governing? If you ask their advocates, you’ll usually get answers that are vague to the point of meaninglessness. In small towns, we’re told, people tell the truth, they work hard and they lend a hand. All of which are good things, but there’s no evidence that those virtues are any more common in small towns than in big cities or the suburbs (and when politicians praise “small towns,” they’re definitely not talking about the suburbs).
There are undoubtedly things that distinguish the small town from the city— and when it comes to the demands of governing, the distinctions favor the lessons one can gain in urban environments.
If you grow up in a city, you’ll learn to navigate a complex world. You’ll deal with people of diverse backgrounds, languages and religions— just like America. You’ll negotiate with their desires and interests, because when you’re all packed together, you have no choice. And you’ll learn to react to change.
That’s one of the central facts of urban life: Cities are and always have been about change. Immigrants come in from abroad, migrants flow in from other parts of the state and the country, and the changing population constantly remakes the city’s politics, its food, its music and every other part of its culture. Even the landscape is remade as old buildings come down and new ones rise up.
In the small town, by contrast, the slow pace of change is precisely what many people value. The rural ethos is saturated in nostalgia, the desire to hold on to or recapture the way things used to be. That nostalgia is often about simplicity, a yearning for a time when the world wasn’t so complicated, change didn’t happen so fast and you could count on life being pretty much the same for you as it was for your parents and grandparents.
Which might be fine for a person to value, but it won’t help you navigate the complexities of policymaking in a dynamic nation of almost 335 million people. For that, you’d do better to cultivate big-city values.
Let’s return to Burgum, who wants to bring his small-town values to D.C. He did come from a small town. But the most important factor in his business success is probably this: He left.
That’s true of ambitious people in small towns and rural areas everywhere: To find opportunity, they often have to go elsewhere. Cities are full of people who grew up in small towns but decided to leave, either to fulfill their economic ambitions or because they found small-town culture stifling and intolerant.
After finishing college, Burgum headed to Silicon Valley, attending Stanford Business School. After a stint as a management consultant in the big city of Chicago, he returned to North Dakota and started a software company— not in his hometown of Arthur (pop. 328), but in Fargo, the largest city in the state.
Democrats are constantly asked why they aren’t doing more to “reach out” to rural and small-town voters, to approach them with open ears and respectful hearts. Nobody ever asks Republican presidential candidates to do the same with urban voters. Maybe if they did, they’d learn a thing or two about the country they aspire to govern.

I’ve lived in rural and urban areas and enjoyed both and like millions of other people, I’ve chosen to take a vibrant and diverse center of rich culture, innovation and progress, not any kind of misperceived superiority of "small town values.” I like challenges and don’t run from complexity. I value open-mindedness, the celebration of differences, adaptability and an atmosphere of intellectual exchange and collaboration... I'll leave the opposite to Magadonia.




UPDATE: You Will Look Like A Fool If You Keep Defending Trump


Last night, former Attorney General William Barr, both for George H.W. Bush and more recently for Trump, penned a missive for Republicans. “Trump,” he wrote, “is a deeply flawed, incorrigible man who frequently brings calamity on himself and the country through his dishonesty and self-destructive recklessness. Even his supporters, who can’t help but acknowledge that he is own worst enemy, know it. For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump’s conduct and its implications. Chief among them: Trump’s indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.”


He then laid out the facts of the case in a very lawerly way. MAGAts ought to read it. I know they won’t, especially not the ones in rural communities with the ignorant, ghastly, bigoted small town values. Barr concluded that “Many loyal Republicans have instinctively rushed to the ramparts to defend Trump. I understand that impulse. But with each new revelation, they look more and more foolish. Remember when news first broke of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? The roars of Trump supporters were deafening. ‘Why didn’t the government simply ask for the documents back?’ Well, as it turns out, they did ask, politely, for about a year, and they were jerked around. Trump’s supporters then shifted tack. ‘Well, why didn’t they use a subpoena first before conducting a search?’ Well, as it turns out, they did issue a subpoena, quietly and discreetly, three months before the search, and the search was done only after the government got surveillance video suggesting that, in responding to the subpoena, documents had been illegally withheld. And on and on and on. Whenever defending Trump is concerned, it is always prudent not to get too far out on a limb until the facts are known. It would be wise to consider that the DOJ has held back a lot of information, and it will be coming out in the weeks ahead. But what we already know about Trump’s behavior is indefensible.”




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1 Comment


Guest
Jun 20, 2023

A flawed piece. Whether an urban area is as you claim absolutely depends on WHICH urban area it is. I would imagine that the one(s) you've experienced were either by happenstance (early in life) and by choice (later). Thus, you were lucky as a kid and could choose wisely later.


I was also lucky.


But I've had to suffer some periods in places like Atlanta, Dallas and some short stints in Phoenix and elsewhere. Yes, it's no coincidence that my bad experiences were MOSTLY in the south.


note: my observations of the SF homelessness blight matches what you wrote in another piece, except I was in SF 25 years ago when I saw it. I think that generally, if y…


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