Saturday, November 8, 2008

McCain, Palin, Obama, and Biden -- Real Common Ground

Last night, before rolling out to the UML-BU game (a great game that was almost a major upset until BU rallied for three late goals to finish with a 6-4 win), some neighbors and I were talking about the recent elections.

Even though we were a mix of Obama, McCain, and Ron Paul supporters, we definitely had to poke some good-natured fun at some of the revelations that have come out of the McCain camp about Mrs. Palin (so is South Africa, like, a region of Africa?) since the ticket's defeat on Tuesday night.

One that I hadn't heard before, though was this: "And she's not even from Alaska." I followed the campaign fairly closely (mostly with the 24/7 cable news as my background white noise at work) but wasn't familiar with this. A quick wiki search indeed revealed that she was born in Idaho (though she moved to Alaska as an infant), came back to Idaho for some schooling, but resettled permanently in Alaska in the eighties.

Then I thought about Vice President-Elect Biden. He definitely likes to play up his humble roots in Scranton, so he's not *really* from Delaware, and he makes no bones about it (he moved to Delaware when he was 10).

Then I thought, why stop there -- President-Elect Obama isn't *really* from Illinois -- he just moved there after completing his schooling in his twenties.

And, just to round things out, Senator John McCain isn't *really* from Arizona. Not even close, in fact -- he didn't move there until he was a 45 year-old retired Navy Captain.

Again, going to back to 2004, none of the four big-ticket headliners was *really* from the state they represented (actually, Cheney had the best case of the four but was still technically not born in Wyoming).

We would have to go back to 2000 just to find Joe Lieberman, who could meet even the most hardcore nativist's definition of a *real* Connectican.

What's my point in all this? First, it says a lot about the openness and fluidity in this country. We're a nation of movers, where someone can grow up in Texas, go to school in Michigan, and then go to New York for a first job without getting a single funny glance (try doing the equivalent of that in, say, Spain to see the difference).

If, as Oscar Wilde says, patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, nativism can't be too far behind. Someone's control over their place of birth is about equal to their *choice* of skin color, eye color, or any other physical feature that the chattering classes would *know better* than to criticize openly.

And the most curious aspect of nativism?

It never seems to come from the *real* natives.

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