It seems like every day a person from New York texts me to ask me if I’ve voted for Amy McGrath or Joe Biden. The latest (Lisa, from NYC) told me that I could reply STOP to be removed from their list, which was interesting since I never asked to be put on their list. It seemed to be a service I could only opt out of. I have received postcards from people I have never known with no return mail address; probably wise, because I would mail them back. Their personalization makes them worse, somewhat twee and condescending.
“Did you know that Amy McGrath is running in Kentucky?” well, she has raised an obscene amount of money so there is literally no way that I would not know that she is running in my state even though I cannot leave my home because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. McGrath’s ads, the increasingly desperate ones that want me to know that she’s a “dog person” as a show of humanity, play before every YouTube video. Don’t forget, she’s a Marine and mom. These mailers tell me she’s the “right choice” and that “Kentuckians can count on Amy” like she isn’t a carpetbagger who claims that McConnell isn’t working hard enough with Trump or that she has any shot of winning, like her campaign isn’t propped up by the exact same people that are currently texting and mailing me this garbage. (One of her latest ads is about how she would’ve shot down hijacked planes on 9/11, which…cool).
In some ways I’m excited for November 4th, because coastal liberals will forget Kentucky exists again, save for as the butt of their jokes. What do any of these people know about Kentucky, a place they wouldn’t stop to piss in if they were driving through it down I75?
Liberals only remember Kentucky when McConnell is up for reelection, and they appear on the horizon to announce a candidate who will not win, and then get very, very upset when that candidate does not win. McGrath is a textbook example of this; 2 years prior she lost to Andy Barr, a stuffed suit pretending to be a human being, and she will likely continue this trend of losing. Her messaging is inconsistent and no one likes her, and you can’t campaign on “I am not Mitch McConnell,” even if this year he is literally a rotting ghoul during a Biblical plague.
It’s interesting, to an extent, the failure of Democrat media to understand the South, to see Appalachia as anything other than a stereotype. To hear talk of it, you’d think it was the politically correct party, but the reason I usually end up tapping out of almost any leftist podcast after awhile is because I’m tired of the 50th “southern accent = ignorant” joke. It’s classist bullshit.
You hear my accent, my sisters accent, my mothers and you hear the remnants of the mountains there. From that, you derive a certain cultural heritage, an expectation. You see, in those moments, the stills of Popcorn Sutton, a tin roof, some rickety shack. You are an idiot. We take advantage of idiots like you. My sister, trapped at an international airport once said, “You have to use the accent. People are scared of it, they think you’re going to say something racist.” It works on old white men, who hear the accent and see your afab face and think “oh you poor stupid fool” and let you out of parking tickets and into places they shouldn’t. If you’re going to be an idiot, at least, I suppose, you’re a useful one.
I don’t want to retread similar ground I’ve already walked this year, but I’ll pull this quote from the Bullet Points article I wrote about Kentucky Route Zero:
In the heat of a discussion about Kentucky Route Zero, I ask a work peer to describe the state I call home. It’s a trick question, I know. I’m asking him to give me the stereotypes. I didn’t expect him to say the word “rickety.” It was 2018, and he still saw Kentucky as that Martin County porch.
The impression, not the reality, of Kentucky is trapped in some 1960’s poverty-porn. People can change over the course of a few decades, but for some reason, the rest of the country doesn’t seem to imagine that Kentucky has changed since they last saw us in 1964. Or since they turned on Justified and saw Green Valley, California standing in for Harlan, Kentucky; a man with spurred boots and a cowboy hat delivering country western justice as if that was somehow related to the state I’ve lived in for most of my life.
It’s fascinating to watch coastal liberals fail consistently in their messaging to flyover country, to Appalachia, to the land that they forget until they desperately want to vote out Mitch McConnell. “Just leave” they say to people in Eastern Kentucky, completely ignoring the generational poverty created by coal companies through company towns, a phenomenon so recent that my grandmother’s wedding ring was bought with scrip. Any prolonged Internet discussion about the South and things like LGBT+ rights will likely result in people suggesting that policy makers just ignore the South, or just cut it out like a virus because it’s so backward, ignoring the studies that have shown that the largest population of LGBT+ people in the US are in the Southeast.
It’s not that living in Kentucky is some sort of liberal leftist oasis. I don’t know if having a bumper sticker with the words “Jane Fonda: America’s Traitor Bitch” (as my work neighbor does) is a political statement, but it does make someone feel like they’re in enemy territory. But the state exists past the boundaries of this election, past the narrow scope of the media that has depicted it in recent years.
Next time, if you want to get involved in an election in my state, it would help if you learned something about it first.