I woke up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat, like I do some of these days in this time of growing awareness, brought to me by the campaigners and their supporters of the US political right wing, that I am not merely Jack American, but I must strive to find out whether I am Jack “Real” American or Jack “Other kind of” American. We’ve got Joe Sixpacks, Joe the Plumbers, Joe McCains, Tito the Builders, Hockey Moms, Moose Shooters, Real Patriots and Defenders of Liberty and Freedom and Our Way of Life Against other americans who think they’re so smart they should be able to vote against candidates like we like. They are appearing and being put on the record at dwindling McCain and Palin rallies, and they are so obviously full of steam that there is little room left in them for pedestrian facts to find a foothold.
I have to ask myself, is this “Bradley Effect” I’m hearing about, really going to kick in with white voters at the moment when push comes to ballot, causing people’s inner wacko cracker to exert a kind of magnetic pull on their psyche and that of their co-workers and family members and neighbors? Are they really going to say to themselves, “Well, I don’t think quite as hotly as Joe does about his issues in this election (been watching different programs, probably) but the loudness of his voice and the steam coming out of his ears makes me pretty sure that it would be a mistake to vote for the black guy just because he seems to be trying harder to make sense.” Thus, per this “Bradley Effect”, Joe Six-pack’s co-workers and neighbors and drinking buddies tell pollsters they’ll vote for the calm colored kid, but that it’ll be dark side trumps dark skin when they put down that tall Bud to grasp the lever.
I say, maybe not. Maybe something else will happen. Maybe their co-workers are fed up having to endure endless hours of harangue of this sort from this guy just because he’s the biggest guy on the crew, or because his papi died fighting Castro’s Cuban Commies, or because he’s so smart he almost finished high school. Maybe those voters are going to cuckold Tito the Builder at the ballot box. Maybe they’ll do this: They’ll nod, and sip their tall Bud and hang with the crowd and chortle their “Oh yeah”s at the right moments of the endless, febrile, mindless harangues, and they’ll agree to all bring up the subject that only the patriotic old guy and his hot babe of a running mate can cop their vote. Then, they’ll go to the polls and vote a sensible person’s vote on real issues, safe from the menace and condemnation of bullies and ideologues and fetus-worshippers and flat-earth evangelists of the rabid right.
Call it a Reverse-Bradley if you like, but anyone who takes the redneck vote for granted in a world where, as happened to me once while hitchhiking, a smug graduate student of anthropology, one can be given a ride by a younger guy in a beat up Ford pickup, returing home for the weekend to Jerome (one of those small towns in “Real” America) from his construction job in Boise, complete with his dog, hard hat and gunrack (for his flyrod) and be treated to a very clear and accurate disquisition on the difference between apparent magnitude and absolute magnitude of stars. For Republicans to assume the worst about the intellect and inclinations of blue-collar voters in a country where lots of people have a lot more education and the sense that comes with it than suitable employment is available for, is a risky campaign strategy at best.