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The Thing I Don't Get About The People Who Hate Clinton and/or Obama

One of the things that has always confused this architectural renderer is that the same people who hate Clinton and Obama tend to also be the same people who praise the virtues of hard work and independence. So which kind of a president would you rather have running things: the "hard working" George W Bush, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, ex-party boy and Yale frat boy class comedian who cynically "found" born-again Jesus to get more votes; or Bill Clinton, the son of a hairdresser who bootstrapped himself into Yale (and Oxford and Georgetown) by his own wits? Then there's Barack Obama, the black son of a single mom and Kenyan dad who got himself into Harvard. I mean, do conservatives who praise these traits of character see the disconnect?

Reflection in a puddle in the parking lot of Haven Restaurant in Lenox, MA. Did you figure out it's upside down?

Of course, it's not really about that, is it? It's not about preferring to have the guy in there who will be more thoughtful about the decisions he makes, from starting wars to repairing the nation's infrastructure to providing opportunity to the maximum number of people who, by no fault of their own get dealt dramatically different hands at birth. It's about conveniently forgetting the good fortune and cultural advantages you have been given by the luck of the draw (born on third base, thought you hit a homerun!) and wanting the guy in there who will let you keep more of your money so you don't have to share it with this socialist project the Democrats call "democracy." In short, it's about hypocrisy while nobody's looking. (Don't get me wrong. I know there's a lot of waste in government spending. I've even charged government too much to do an architectural rendering in watercolor of a the US Consulate across from the UN, and I was very happy to get paid for it. But there's always waste. Deal with it. The miracle isn't that the NY subway runs on time every so often; the miracle is that the NYC subway runs!!)

But I can't get entirely disgusted with people who think this way. At least not after reading the book I'm reading: John Stilgoe's Common Landscape of America: 1545 to 1860. What that book makes abundantly clear is that these attitudes and fears of the "other"--rugged independence vs suspicious co-dependence, rural vs urban, American economic freedom and independence vs European collectivism and co-dependence--have always existed in Americans, almost at the level of our DNA, inherited from our European ancestors, and profoundly influenced by both the character of the settlements from which our forebears came, and the regional characteristics of the land where we settled or migrated to in America. 

In short, to a large degree, Americans are where they live.

When a modern day southern or western Republican may well be the 4th or 5th generation of his family to have undertaken the risk of migrating west, it is easy to see how self-sufficiency and hard work, so critical to survival, would have become revered and even mythologized as vital family and community member character traits, passed down from generation to generation either in deed or in lore; and how those generations, long-since forgetting how their ancestors may well have relied on each other for survival in European villages which depended to a great degree on coordinated efforts to protect and husband finite agricultural and land resources, would come to look down upon and even fear the collective spirit, co-reliance and religious uniformity on which much of early colonial life depended.

In short, no matter how repugnant, it is still possible to understand that birthers, 9-11 truthers, Obama-haters, anti-gun grabbers and yes, even now, Newtown, CT truthers are just the latest agents in a nearly 400 year history of a deep, DNA-level American fear of both tyranny and collective action (and the taxes, freedom-threatening and gun-grabbing that are always imagined to follow). It's just that the same people who would claim to hate tyrants and kings, and who elevate the traits of self-sufficiency, hard work and independence to mythical stature, often paradoxically insist on behaving like the very 17th century Europeans their forebears fled from, doing everything in their power to elect the most privileged, least hard-working and least self-made people to the highest offices in the land, and hating it...just hating it when we end up electing one of their own.

(The author, un-noted political thinker and accidental historian James Akers, specializes in digital architectural rendering, watercolor techniques, traditional architectural rendering, architectural watercolor rendering, architectural sketching, watercolor rendering techniques, architectural sketches, watercolor techniques, architectural rendering and the other disciplines associated with traditional architectural rendering. He may be reached at jakers3 (at) gmail (dot) com.)