Two Americas

I was driving home from work in my ’95 Saturn, a cheap car that offers the highest mileage of any non-hybrid vehicle out there, when I came upon the third or fourth Kerry bumpersticker I’ve seen so far….on a fancy SUV. Now I certainly have nothing against the rich as I hope to be rich myself someday, but it got me reflecting on the reality that there are two Americas.

One is white skinned, gray haired, rich and liberal. The second, my America, the real America, is a hundred shades of color, young and definitely not rich.

That other America drives new Lincoln Navigators, Mercedes G500s and Hummers (but only because the French don’t make a good SUV) and drives up my gas prices. In my America we drive used cars or cheap cars and we worry about gas mileage not because we think it will save the earth but because we need to save a buck.

That other America has 4 or 5 homes any one of which is bigger than every home on my block combined with price tags in the tens of millions of dollars or higher. And they burn a lot of fossil fuels to heat and cool. In my America we pay anywhere from the $18,500 I paid for my home up to, maybe, $100,000. And we generally think the guy with the $100,000 home really has it made. We heat those homes with natural gas, which is cleaner than heating oil, because it’s cheaper, while the rich New Englander heats with dirty heating oil and runs up our gasoline prices every winter starting just about the time that ‘driving season’ ends.

That other America talks cavalierly about a tax increase that will slam on the brakes on the economy because all it will mean to them is the possibility of a little slower increase in their accounts. In my America, it may mean a lost pay increase or even a lost job. It may mean the small business owner has to close his doors going from a source of job growth to another guy looking for a job.

That other America has free government health care as a perk of being in the Senate, but claims to feel the pain of those who don’t. In my America, we rely on that small business owner who employs us or, if we happen to be the small business owner, we pay cash. I even have friends who trade eggs from their chickens and vegetables from their gardens.

That other America flies in private jets. In my America, we drive or we hit Priceline looking for the cheapest coach tickets we can find. Sometimes we get such crappy seats that the flight attendants don’t even charge us for a beer.

That other America shops at places with names like Tiffany and Sacs. My America, the real America, shops at Wal-Mart, Dollar General and we’re ecstatic when we find a great deal at a thrift shop.

I just hope, if I ever do become rich, I don’t forget what the real America is like and become liberal like them.

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