Like, I suppose, most people with my temperament and personality type, I know how to play about a dozen assorted songs on the acoustic guitar. Sometimes with these songs you get to a point where you actually prefer your own version, and it's hard to listen to it on the record. But there's another kind that you can never quite get right; there's something about the chemistry among the band members that creates a mood or a sound that is neither duplicable nor replaceable.
One such song for me is "Let's Drink to the Hardworking People," off of the Rolling Stones' Beggar's Banquet. The song is so strangely honest, extolling the virtues of the common folk while acknowledging that Mick and Kieth and the other megastars will never be able to understand what it's really like to be part of that "faceless mass of grey and black and white."
There's a feeling, a mood, a thread running through the song that is sorely needed in the Democratic party. The first step in bringing the "middle class" (a term generally used to refer simply to the majority of the population) back into prominence in the Democratic Party is to acknowledge that the Democrats have lost touch with the common people.
Uncle chides me sometimes for claiming to identify with the common people. I was, after all, born to college-educated parents, raised in the suburbs, and offered the opportunity to go to college on my parents' nickel.
But in other ways I have much in common with the sort of people who so often seem such a deep mystery to the pampered, millionaire liberals who make up the elected Democratic party. I don't talk about religion or God incessantly, and actually don't consider myself "religious" in the sense that I understand the word (and no, I'm not "spiritual" either), but I can't and don't identify with the weird reeligious phobia that seems to afflict so many on the left, including most of my IRL liberal friends.
I did not graduate from college, for a variety of reasons, and I've managed to rise to a fairly comfortable position through luck, some timely risks, with a sprinkling of white privilege thrown in for good measure. Which is, though we don't like to admit it, the way the middle class generally gets by.
I was born in the South, and I identify as a Southerner, right down to what, if I were louder about it, would probably be considered by most people to be a downright heretical interpretation of the history of the U.S. Civil War. I'm no Confederate sympathizer (though I went through a phase) but no war is clear-cut. Neither was that one.
My cultural beliefs are informed, at least, by my Southern upbringing, and I have always aligned myself with the most right-wing elements of society on the specific question of local control over the maximum range of public policy. This extends to schools, where I have never understood why it should be of any concern to me if a local school in Kansas wants to teach that evolution is an unsupported hypothesis and that intelligent design or creationism is a valid alternative.
Sure, we know these things are misleading at best, but I paid attention in high school history. I learned more lies and was fed more bullshit in that class than they ever could have crammed into a biology class. I survived, even made up my own mind about it. All that without the benefit of a college education. How about that?
Yet when I bring these things up with other liberals, they don't want to hear about it; they want to convince me to convert to a more proper liberal way of thinking. I'm not whining about persecution or marginalization; on the contrary, what makes it so interesting is that many of these people seem to be very interested in what I have to say in the general case.
But who is interested in hearing the perspective of a liberal, white, male, middle-class, Jesus-lovin' Southerner at a time when the liberal ideology is at a historical low point in popularity among white, male, middle-class Jesus-lovin' Southerners?
Bears thinkin' about, don't it?