Thursday, September 4, 2008

Small towns: Palin's rose-colored vision

Anyone who has spent 5 seconds here knows I am not a Republican. With that out of the way, I would point to one passage in Palin's speech which struck me:

Long ago, a young farmer and haberdasher from Missouri followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency. A writer observed: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman. I grew up with those people. They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.

It is correct that a disproportionate number of enlistees come (and have come in the past) from small towns and rural areas. The rest of the passage, with its romanticizing of small towns, runs counter to what Sinclair Lewis, at least, thought about them. I lived relatively briefly in a small town in West Virginia a long time ago. If I had to guess, I'd say one finds a roughly similar mixture of human types in small towns and big cities. There are differences, to be sure, but not everyone in a small town is a Truman-style paragon of virtues.

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