Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Purple America


Ilya Shapiro is Stuck in Purple America and thinks there are a lot of us with him. I believe I may be one. What is Purple America?
From my experience writing for and reading TCS, I gather that I am not alone in sensing a certain
disconnect between my cultural and political affinities. That is, I am a cosmopolitan conservative,
residing in that nebulous region distrusted by both coastal elites and the populist sages of the heartland, Purple America.


Personally, I'm in that region, too. I'm pretty conservative, but I appreciate some of those "fancier" or "high-falutin'", sometimes a bit pretentious things usually associated with the PBS-watching, effete Left. To Shapiro:
Purple America is not so much a place as an idea, or more precisely a confluence of values from Red America with tastes from Blue America. It believes in personal responsibility, discipline, civil society, spontaneous order, ordered liberty, and that the best thing government can do is not get in the way. Yet it craves independent films, fine cigars, Belgian ales, and South American fĂștbol -- along with a good baseball game (preferably without the designated hitter).

Well, I'm not quite as Purple (I like domestic craft beers and actually like the desgnated hitter...who wants to see a pitcher hit?) as Shapiro, but close, as this blog can attest. Further:
Purple America gets a tear in its eye during small-town 4th of July parades, but also a smirk on its face when the Star Spangled Banner plays down the Champs-Elysées after Lance wins another Tour. It couldn't care less who sleeps with whom where, just that its tax dollars aren't used to subsidize or photograph the event. And it welcomes diversity, so long as that term is not used as a euphemism for judging people on anything but the content of their character -- though not that false diversity of multi-colored liberals.
Also, Shapiro wants to be clear that Purple America is not comprised of "metrosexuals":
But do not be confused: We Purple Americans are decidedly not metrosexuals. I couldn't imagine getting a manicure, waxing my chest, or using skin products, and while I want to look good, I hate the shopping that you have to do to get there. I may like my Perrier, but I'll drink it with my Monday Night Football, thank you very much. I read the Economist and Atlantic Monthly, but also Sports Illustrated and Maxim.


Shapiro thinks he has found the answer by moving to Washington, D.C., "a place where the only gauche political stand is not to have one, the city with northern charm and southern efficiency." Good luck to him, but I'll stay where I am, for now. Where does that leave me? According to Shapiro:
Those physically located in Red America can reside in the imagined communities of the blogosphere and the alternative media, keeping busy and interested via constant travel and immersion in work. Those in Blue America can take a virtual leap into Galt's Gulch, divorcing themselves from all cocktail party discussions of political philosophy and public policy (as in Ayn Rand's world, this is easier to do if you care about nothing beyond your own immediate interests).

I'm pretty confident that Shapiro is a Libertarian, and that is what he means by being not RED or BLUE but PURPLE. A mix of both, the classic fiscal conservative, social liberal, but not a moderate. I'm sure we differ on various issues, but the larger point is that those of us who like our "culture" sometimes risk a bit of harassment from those who share our fundamental political beliefs, which in turn cause fits of near-apoplectic disbelief among our colleagues in academia or "society." I think being part of Purple America is fun, myself. It's fun not being easily pigeonholed, after all.




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