Being Real in America

The real Eiffel Tower is in Paris. There’s a fake one in Las Vegas. If there is a “Real America”, is there a fake one somewhere? Maybe in Belgium or Thailand? Max Boot of The Washington Post has some thoughts on what’s real about America:

I’ve been feeling very blue this summer. Oh, I don’t mean I’m depressed — I’ve been having a ball. But I’ve been spending time in some of the most liberal enclaves in America: first Martha’s Vineyard, then Provincetown, Mass., an LGBTQ mecca where pride flags are ubiquitous…..

I have to admit that even this reformed ex-Republican did a slight eyeroll at the car next door to our rented beach house in P-town. It sports bumper stickers proclaiming “Biden-Harris,” “Coexist” (with Christian, Jewish, Muslim and peace symbols), “Resist” and “Bye Don” under a shock of yellow hair. Naturally, it’s a Subaru station wagon with a bike rack. How cliché can you get?

It is easy in such environs to imagine that you’re not in the “real America”….

But you know what? Provincetown is the real America [note: first settled in 1700]. So is Martha’s Vineyard. These communities are undoubtedly on the left…. But, in many ways, they might be more representative of 2022 America than the Rust Belt diners where reporters love to take the pulse of T____landia.

There is an implicit assumption, shared by many Republicans and Democrats, that “real” Americans are White, rural, conservative, Christian and poorly educated. (“I love the poorly educated,” D____ T____ said in 2016.) Ultra-MAGA Republicans assume that their policy preferences — anti-immigration, anti-gun control, anti-abortion, anti-“woke” — are the only legitimate views that can be held by “real” Americans, and that anyone who disagrees is a pointy-headed elitist or “globalist” who is out of touch with reality.

Yet it is White, Christian, rural, conservative voters who are now in the minority. Indeed, much of the reason that MAGA Republicans sound so hysterical so much of the time is that they know that the tides of economic and demographic change are leaving them behind. The White share of the population has declined from 80 percent in 1980 to just 60.1 percent in 2019. By the 2040s, America is projected to become “majority minority.”

Accompanying this demographic shift is an economic shift that puts a premium on brains over brawn: In 1970, 31.2 percent of non-farm workers were employed in blue-collar jobs. By 2016, the blue-collar share of the workforce had fallen to just 13.6 percent. There is even a religious shift: Atheists and agnostics are the fastest-growing religious group in the country, while the percentage of Christians declined by 15 points between 2007 and 2021.

Demography is not necessarily destiny, and Latinos, in particular, are not as Democratic as they used to be. But these trends are hardly favorable for a T____ified Republican Party whose base increasingly consists of White, evangelical Christians who haven’t graduated from college.

A more diverse, better-educated country is more liberal, particularly on cultural issues. In other words, more like P-town and the Vineyard. Just look at the massive shift on same-sex marriage. Even Obama came out against marriage equality in 2008 when it had the support of only 40 percent of Americans. Now same-sex marriage is supported by 71 percent of the public — and even by 55 percent of Republicans. It has become a nonissue.

The hardcore MAGA base might thrill to the kind of cultural warfare practiced by T____ and [Florida Governor] DeSantis, but it repels most of the electorate — which is why so many Republicans who touted their opposition to abortion during the primaries are now soft-pedaling an unpopular stance.

Our political system has a sharp minoritarian bias, but there is little doubt that Democratic positions are way more popular than Republican ones. Sixty-seven million more Americans live in counties won by Joe Biden than by T____ in 2020 — and the Biden counties produce 71 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The Biden strongholds are in major cities and suburban areas — and that is increasingly where most Americans live. Even in red states, major metropolitan areas tend to be pretty blue. The largest city T____ won in 2020 was Oklahoma City [the 22nd largest city in the US].

The whole country might not be nearly as progressive as Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard, but those blue havens are closer to an increasingly liberal mainstream than the MAGA redoubts where pickup trucks sport “Let’s Go, Brandon!” bumper stickers. There is a good reason so many MAGA Republicans are embracing “semi-fascism”: Their views are too unpopular to command majority support anymore. They certainly don’t speak for the “real” America — to the extent that such a thing even exists.


In the old days, when Hollywood made a war movie, a platoon would include soldiers from all over (maybe they still do it these days with the addition of a woman or two). There would be a fast talker from Brooklyn, a cowboy from Texas, a hothead from Mississippi, a college athlete, a family man from Iowa, a skinny kid who lied about his age to enlist, an Arizona Indian, a reliable sort from anywhere USA (maybe played by Van Johnson), perhaps even a quiet black man and somebody named “Gonzales” or “Nakamura”. The message was that real Americans, the great guys who were defending democracy against the fascists, came from all over. Today, when our homegrown fascists and semi-fascists hear “we’re all in this together”, they think it’s a threat. They hate the reality of America.