My friend Brian "Schmoove" Prenoveau and
I were talking earlier this evening, and Brian posed a question this
"Have you ever been out somewhere where
someone you know said anything along the lines of 'Hey man, did you
watch 'Two and a Half Men' last night?'"
And, I had to admit: no. Not only
have I never watched "Two and a Half Men" before--this show has been
on CBS now for a whopping five years now and lands weekly in the
top-ten most-viewed shows--but I have never heard
someone quote lines from "Two and a Half Men", or talk about how
much they love "Two and a Half Men", or tell me I need to rent the
most recent season of "Two and a Half Men" on DVD. That's
because no one I know watches that show...and, to a larger degree,
it's why I am sure I don't know Americans at all.
You see, it's important to note during
this election season that the people who read Bellview--and,
naturally, the people you hang out with regularly--are not really
"Americans" in the sense that pollsters talk about them. You,
generally speaking, are like me and like a lot of your friends: you
live in a major city, probably on one of the coasts; you live in a
household that can fairly be described as upper middle class with a
household income well north of six figures; you are well educated
(many of you have one, sometimes two, advanced degrees); you have a
good job. Even if you don't fit the high-income piece of this,
you probably fit the rest, also placing you outside of what we call
"the American people." You stray far from what candidates call "the
people", "middle class", or "struggling." You are not in touch
with what real Americans deal with on a day-to-day basis, although
you might watch TV shows or read stories on the Interweb about real
Americans and their troubles.
(Hint: real Americans don't sweat option packages on their new BMWs,
or $470,000 one-bedroom condos, or season tickets at professional
issues NEVER OCCUR for real Americans.)
I would like to think that as I have
gotten older, my worldview has gotten bigger and I am able to
process information outside of my social circles to leverage that
against what I know, love and believe in. As such, I know
this--the majority of my friends, although not all of them, believe
that Barack Obama will be our next president, and in speaking with
some of them, they will be somewhat surprised if he does not win
this fall's election. What's interesting in this argument is
that most of my friends, and I'll include myself in this, don't know
many people that live in "America", that strange, somewhat foreign
land between New York and LA where people still work in plants,
mills, fields and mines, go to church and drive American cars.
Have you ever driven through America?
Let me ask you this: what have you seen more of, in total
days, since you were 18--cities OUTSIDE the US or places INSIDE the
US that are not on a coast? Let me ask it another way--since
only 10% of Americans have an active passport, what percentage of
your friends have an active passport? Let's try this--have you
visited anywhere in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, or Missouri? Or,
It's a magical place, really; America
has got a lot of pretty sweet sights. Nice people, too.
Although it appears to be different on TV, most Americans actually
don't spend time hangin' out in coffee shops; most of them don't
know what "trans fats" are and don't care; most of them (in some
places, as much as 75% of the populace) go to church on Sundays.
What percentage of your friends go to
church every Sunday?
All of this is to say that it's likely
you don't really understand how the mind of the true American really
works, even if you have spent your whole life here. It's why
you probably looked up at the sky with your arms raised in November 2000, wondering how
"the people" could vote for George W. Bush as our nation's
president. I'll admit, I stared blankly at the sky too...in fact, my buddy David
Lee and I still joke about the conversations we had in 2000 and '04
when we both thought it would be worth investigating a move to
Europe until another president was put into office. It's why
many of my friends look at John McCain and Sarah Palin and wonder
how anyone could imagine them as our next executive office
holders...until you realize that you don't know America at all.
I like to talk often about the Bush
approval ratings that the Gallup Poll releases every so often;
lately, it's been hovering in the 25-28% range, which I find
interesting for one reason and one reason only:
28% of Americans will look you dead in
the eye and tell you that they believe George W. Bush is doing a
good, sometimes great, job as our current president. They are
happy, they don't notice a deteriorating job/financial market, they are satisfied that we are essentially at war, and
they envision a brighter future based on a bright present.
THAT should shock you. Think about
that, REALLY think about that hard--one out of every four Americans
would answer the question "How do you feel about George W. Bush as
our current president?" with something along the lines of
"Hmm...well, I think he is doing
[okay/great/fantastic]. I can't complain, really...and, I am
perfectly content with the direction this nation is heading and
thankful that President Bush is our leader."
"only" 60% of Republicans are satisfied with Bush's work in office.
That means that 60% of a large populace is happy with the current
administration. That means "more than half."
Essentially all of
these people will vote for McCain.
Personally, I am excited for the 2008
election, generally because I am intrigued by the drama. I
have never been a believer in wholesale change, so no matter who
takes office in January, my hope is that the country will be, I
dunno, two to five percent "better" than it was three or four years
ago. McCain won't come in with sweeping change, making the
country a more beautiful, sunnier, safer, more financially prudent
landscape...and, neither will Obama. But it's fun to watch
them sell their game that way and I can't blame them, since that's
politics. Both sides are counting on their base plus a wide
array of voters who have never been bothered with coming out to vote
to swing their way and take the White House. It's going to be
a fun ride through debate season as the American people make their
Speaking of which, do you know anyone
who has watched "Deal or No Deal" more than once? (That's the
NBC show where contestants pick numbered steel suitcases to win cash
using nothing more than blind luck, making it the only game show
currently on the major networks that requires zero talent to win
money.) "Deal" was the #9-rated show in last week's Nielsen
ratings...just one spot higher than "Two and a Half Men."
Guess how many viewers those two shows took in last week? 18.8
Isn't it strange that you don't know one
person who watches those shows?
Random Bellviews, courtesy of Bell &
Longer Community Trust:
Living a hundred feet from the
Those ozzie rolls at Sweetwater
Tavern/Coastal Flats: $9.50 Show
Free tickets to Redskins game...96°
in the sun: Matinee
Standard-definition televisions: Rental
UVA football (and getting pounded
by--gulp--UConn): Hard Vice