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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Invisible Ones

This month we’ve learned, those of us who live in Prairie Country, that we are the Invisible Ones. Oh, we suspected as much, the year the map company left off North Dakota completely. Much laughter about that in Minnesota and Montana and South Dakota.

Now it’s “official”—the imprimateur of the media declared it so. First, National Geographic, with their January article on the vast, dying emptiness of the plains. And ABC Nightly News reinforced the vast emptiness with its Persons of the Week presentation Friday evening. Yep, we’re a kind-hearted bunch out here in Prairie Country, blonde, red-cheeked, hmmmm, but let’s keep that camera on the vast open spaces and an abandoned chicken coop or two or maybe a rancher on horseback herding cattle. What other stereotypes can we come up with?

Noticably, neither National Geographic nor Nightly News covered the significant Microsoft campus in Fargo, nor the other strong forces of our economy…oil, agribusiness, high-tech. They did do what the media does too often.

Comes up with a storyline and then fits reality around it.

Been a lot of that happening this political season. The storyline on the Democrats side is the two-person horserace-in-the-ring mano-a-mana Clinton Obama…. Oh wait, you say there are more than two persons in the race? And that’s not even counting the ones who’ve already dropped out? Who got more attention for quitting than they got during their campaigns?

Meanwhile on the Republican side, media’s covering the whole big circus, down to 5% Rudy. And so far, the talk is of the big mix-it-up anybody could get the nomination. No Invisible Ones there. But there’s harbingers on the horizon. Rush Limbaugh’s talking up his man Mitt, who just happens to own the Clear Channel radio network that, surprise, surprise, carries his show. Limbaugh’s “base” are Invisible Ones, people who feel disenfranchised, and he’s preyed on them for years. Maybe they’ll finally start to wake up to the reality that he’s just a hired gunslinger and his bullets are words. A lot of fancy-dancy spinning the guns before slippin’ ’em back in the holsters, but still, just a hired gunslinger. Who doesn’t shoot straight.

There are other hired gunslingers out there, too. Pundits, pollsters, opinionizers. And they don’t shoot straight, either. Bill O’Reilly spins a good yarn like he has lately about homeless veterans, and doesn’t let the facts get in his way. Have you ever noticed how much Billo resembles the town Sheriff in The Unforgiven? Oh, he’s got a man’s dreams…that nice house with the porch to watch the sunset. Makes you long for Jack Webb or Clint Eastwood to come along and straighten things out.

Politicians aren’t immune…watching the tag team of new lobbying partners and former Senators John Breaux and Trent Lott these days, one can imagine they’re busily thinking about their porches and how big they can make ’em…wonder if they do any thinking about The Invisible Ones back in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans?

Even the “journalists” who take themselves very seriously don’t give a whole lot of thought…or ink…or minutes…or bytes…to The Invisible Ones.

David Broder chides there’s not a CEO running on the Democratic side while touting all the CEO experience on the Republican side…totally blocking out that there’s a passle of CEOs running things right now…and look how they’ve run America into the ground.

Chris Matthews finally grudgingly had to apologize to Hillary Clinton for remarks on his show—hey, Chris, you need a list? You missed a few others. Invisible Ones. Maybe Tom Brokaw’s hectoring that reporters should get the facts before jumping to conclusions as was done in reporting the New Hampshire primary will take hold. We like to think Brokaw’s prairie roots are still nurturing his spirit.

There’s an invisible candidate right now, John Edwards. The deliberate blacking out of coverage of his campaign, his leadership on issues, would be laughable for its cartoon-like blatancy…if we weren’t all in such unfunny circumstances these days. Chris, you and the rest of the media owe us an apology for robbing us of the information to make intelligent voting decisions. Your one saving grace is you were man enough to tell us you get it. We hope it tempers your commentary in ways that make you stronger. We’ll be the better for it.

And we know we’ll never see that kind of stand-up manhood from the likes of the Faux News crowd, the ultimate example of making their own storyline…and making up their own facts.

Because there’s another Invisible One out there. The voter. And more and more the voter will show up, and be heard. We saw it in Iowa. We saw it in New Hampshire. Will we see it again today in Nevada and South Carolina? And further down the campaign trail? I think so.


barbara said...

G'morning, Prairie. My family is from North Dakota. Lisbon and Fargo, with one branch migrating to Minot. That makes me one of you, albeit a step removed. Loved Kathleen Norris' "Dakota," though it was focused on SD. Sojourned to my Dakota roots-places a few years ago. Nostalgicus in estremis! Must be rugged prairie determination that makes you such a staunch supporter of John the Invisible, the Marginalized, the Disrespected. Sign me up as a true believer. Which is really saying something, since it's harder and harder to believe in much these days -- sometimes. (Oh, crikey . . . lost my little orange icon thingey again!)

Prairie Sunshine said...

Mornin'! Welcome back. Kathleen Norris is a wonderful writer--fun to know you've discovered her, too.

We are long overdue for a leader to believe in...

Lots of people are migrating out of ND these days...we've the second worst outmigration to Michigan...but we'll draw 'em back. Just like the snowbirds come back from Arizona every spring.

ReneND said...

I don't know, Prairie. Fargo just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I don't want another minneapolis.If you draw a line through the city, we'd be on the North side now. LOL.
I hope people are drawn back, but I hope they settle in the smaller communities of ND.
Not enough lunch days to hit all the new restaurants...

Prairie Sunshine said...

So many eateries, so little time....

Sad truth, like many states there's a big population divide between the focal city and the rest of the state. Fargo = Twin Cities
Bismarck or Grand Forks = Duluth or Rochester....
Every state's likely feeling much the same. So why single out ND as an example of the emptying countryside?

barbara said...

Just took a look at HuffPost. Our own people are ignoring Edwards, too. They have a banner of candidate faces, sans Edwards. What's the deal, please and thank you, wise woman of the prairie???

Prairie Sunshine said...

Fickle fate. Life isn't fair. Politics isn't either.

ReneND said...

So, looks like our guy lost in Nevada. The FDL crowd has convinced me NOT to vote for Clinton no matter what. If she is the nominee, Should I vote for Romney/Mccain? Or, should I stay home?? Once you turn someone off to a candidate, they may never come back. They might be turning off thousands who are lurking and forming opinions. Oh well...

Prairie Sunshine said...

Not voting is not an option.
I will vote for "Not Republican"

We cannot repeat the history of 1968.

ReneND said...

But there are plenty who do not feel that way and they are very vocal and very prolific. She would still need enthusiastic workers and that won't happen if people "just vote". What I'm saying is, that by bashing her front and center, nonstop, it will keep people from getting involved when crunch time comes. I'm not talking about you, you understand. I hope we(Dems) don't look back and see that we cut our own throats( met. speaking).
We are going to 10 comments even if I do it all by myself. LOL.

Prairie Sunshine said...

Don't you worry...we can do teamwork. Ten it is.

And I agree about your comment. Voting is a process, not just an event. There needs to be focus on the process, the buildup with the GOTV.