May 3, 2008

Remembering our roots

The Red Queen noted in the comments in my post below that she was inspired by Anglachel's post to post her own take on the class divide within the Democratic Party that has become so evident this election year. You really need to read the whole thing, but I've pulled out a snippet for you. The Red Queen says:

So I grew up with the intellectual values of my father's family coupled with a sure knowledge of the poverty of my mother's (especially since my father's intellectual values didn't extend to him paying child support). I know and treasure things that the working class isn't supposed to, like travel and languages and grand theories of how people should think and act. I know which silverware to use in fancy restaurants and how to conduct myself with people who have a lot more money than I do. I know about the weird foods rich people eat with gusto and how to pretend to like them.

I also know how to pull together with my fellow poor neighbors and share burdens. I know how to navigate the horrible red tape of social services (if anything I could be considered a super-power, my understanding of bureaucrat-ese is it). I know how to juggle bill payments with an "oh but I mailed that check last week, didn't you get it?" I know that you can work you ass off and never make it out of poverty. I know that poor people aren't lazy (and because I know the other side- I know that despite their nice words the upper class thinks we are). I know that we are not dumb, but luckless.

And there, did you notice that. That I started saying "we". I think it is only recently that I picked my side. I still cringe over the trappings of poor white culture. I will never be a lover of Nascar or football or cheap beer. I will still love art and literature and most gourmet foods. But in the basics, I am working class.
I completely identify with what The Red Queen has to say.

I didn't have any rich relatives, but I did have a father who was much better off than my mother and us kids were. Like RQ, mom and dad were divorced. We got our pittance of child support, but it wasn't much. Mom went to university at night and because she couldn't afford someone to watch us, my brother and I wandered the campus and met the most interesting people. We managed to sneak into on campus movies and presentations, hung out in the geology lab, learned to played GO with Japanese exchange students and on and on. It was a poor child's intellectual smorgasbord.

Fast forward to now. DH and I are in a secure place financially, but I've never forgotten what it was like to add rice to the soup for nights on end to "stretch" it. When RQ writes of being "luckless" I know exactly what she means. I, for one, am damn lucky. I know it. No, what I have wasn't handed to me, but it sure as hell wasn't withheld from me either. And I am ever mindful of that.

And that's why, in my heart, no matter how much education or money I have, I'm a Lunch Bucket Democrat. And always will be. And that's why I support Hillary Clinton, because she remembers too.

1 comment:

The Red Queen said...

the running around campus bit made me teary eyed cause I did that too. I think was actually my mom's project for her child psychology class. And my own kid has sat threw many poly sci and anthropology classes with me.

Lunch Bucket dems unite!