This blog is tied to a forum with some history behind it called Turn Left Interactive, and while there's a lot of typical web board bullshit that goes on there, every once in a while something pops up, in this rabid microcosm of the national talking-points war, that's very revealing.
One of our members posed the question, "What are small-town values?" a la the Sarah Palin quote: "We grow people with good values in our small towns."
Here are two of the answers Republican participants put forth, when they actually bothered to try to answer:
"I think much of what makes small town values seem more appealing is the presumption of a more caring and cohesive society -- one in which your neighbors are "known" -- not only to and by each other, but known within the community. In many cases, for generations."
"You're 2 times as likely to be murdered by the morally enlightened members or our nation's urban communities. We upstanding urbanites improve a bit when it comes to forcibly raping our neighbors, only outpacing our rural counterparts by about 30%."
So, in essence, small-town values are knowing who your neighbors are and having a lower crime rate?
Both attempts at this answer are earnestly made, but fail when confronted with logic. You can know your neighbors in any community, rural or urban, (Hell, some cities even have a sampling of the recently maligned "community organizers"), and if anything has served to isolate us in our communities, it's television, computers and cars. As for the crime rate, it's doubtful anybody really believes Sarah Palin was talking about not getting mugged.
The reason the boat is missed here is because "small-town values" is just code for small-town pride.
Small-towns throughout the country have seen massive losses recently. The family farm is disappearing. Rust-belt cities where life revolved around one or two industries are falling apart as those industries abandon them. These places are full of people desperately in search of pride.
The reason the neo-conservatives don't use the word "pride" is because pride itself is not enough to be proud of. There has to be something you have, intrinsically superior to the alternative, available to make pride possible. And values are where that's at.
"Our schools may be struggling, but I can be proud that I'm a hunter."
"I may not have health insurance, but at least my neighbors share my cultural roots."
"I may have lost my job, but I'm going to Heaven."
This is the tricky part, that Obama has, for the most part, been very conscious of. This is not something to lash out at with anger and sharp tongues. Small-town folks are already beaten down. The situation is actually just sad. When all you have to turn to is your heritage and the afterlife, then you've given up any hope that you can control your own life at all.
Preaching about "small-town values" does nothing but encourage the same bad habits many Americans developed as a result of Republican policies. It's the same cycle that we've seen for years, and it will continue until enough people snap out of the funk, at least for that necessary brief window of time, and stop it in the voting booth.