Saturday, September 24, 2005

My talent for melding into cultures different from own has led me into some interesting situations. The axiom I try to follow is, "Keep your mouth shut and your ears open and you might just learn something. "

A year ago, I remember making the same monthly trip into the small feed and seed where I purchase my dog food that I make each month. I like this little feed store because it is full of local color and is run by South Carolinians. I hear stories here I don’t hear anywhere else.

As I enter the front door, I always stop and read the bulletin board. The usual fare includes ads for hay, both square and royal bales, horses, pit bull puppies, farriers, guineas and game chickens. Indeed, much of the store is dedicated to the last item. Cocke County is famous for its game chicken breeders and illegal chicken fights. You can find all sorts of stuff here; special feed mixtures, special gunpowder to feed your cocks, special medications, muffs and things I have no idea what they are used for.

The folks who run the store have always been great source of information for me concerning my chickens. My chickens are fat, placid standards. As far removed from the brilliantly colored game chickens as a draft horse is removed from a Mongolian Steppes pony. Still, they get the same ailments and suffer from the same chicken problems. And if there is anything moving through the area that will impact chickens…these people will know about it. They keep healthier and cleaner flocks than any of the commercial or hobby breeders.

Indeed, I quite admire the chicken people. I agree with them up to the point where they throw those gorgeous birds into the ring to fight one another. The chicken people seem to like me as well. We are united by our disdain for the animal rights movement. I think they are a bit misinformed about this. I don’t think they understand that I’m very involved with animal welfare and don’t see the HSUS as the “great Satan” that they do. My disdain for the animal rights people is much different from theirs. This is just one area that I would consider myself in a “strange bedfellow” situation.

A year ago, I waded through a handful of cherried-out pick-up trucks with “Blood and Feathers” mud flaps and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers to pick up my dog food. I would have loved to have a Kerry/Edwards sticker on my jeep. Hell, I would have loved to have Kerry/Edwards signs all over my property. But I was soundly warned not to do such a thing. I was told out right that my property would be vandalized if I showed support for my Democratic candidates. Driving around this oddly traditional Republican stronghold dating back to the Civil War, the only places you could see Kerry/Edwards signs were on vacant stretches of woodland. I didn’t see one sign in anyone’s yard. If you are pushing toward a single party system, fear seems to be the best motivator.

So I didn’t flaunt it. I’m a poor person and can’t afford to replace my vehicle or have my home rebuilt after arson. I felt a certain quiet hopefulness though. It hardly seemed possible that George Bush could get re-elected after his lying ways had been revealed. Because lying is a sin and surely his thickly born-again Christian base would realize that. Wouldn’t they? I felt hopeful because I knew that Dems were getting the vote out in record numbers. Even as I was passing through the phalanx of RNP supporters stationed solidly within 25 feet of my polling place, I felt hopeful. I even grinned and said to them, “No thanks, I’m a Yella Dawg!”

So, I was understandably dumbfounded when GWB won. Evidently so were a lot of people. There are still rumblings involving Diebold’s involvement. Most recently a whistleblower came forward to reveal a remote back door to the Diebold’s software. Jimmy Carter, who supervises elections in third world countries, cannot say that our elections are fair. In our heart of hearts…we know George is an imposter. We just don’t know what to do about it but wait.

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So my recent dog food buying expedition ended up being much different. Prominently displayed on the back wall were T-shirts for sale that said, “I SURVIVED 6-11”. They refer to the June federal raid on a Del Rio cockfighting ring. The feds brought to bear their full resources, the Patriot Act and 400,000 taxpayer dollars to net 150 people on misdemeanor charges. They’ve spent the summer kicking in the doors of various small town sheriffs, Boss Hogs, deputies and other local officials. They’ve gone through courthouse records in great detail. The Feds are obviously looking for something. They don’t appear to have found it yet…whatever it is.

The chicken people have really taken all this very personally and are fighting it tooth and nail. They blame George W. Bush and the HSUS. I found myself in the singular position of hearing a well-phrased rant regarding the importance of separating leadership from personable foibles. They praised Bill Clinton to the heavens; because they knew Bill would have had more important things to do than harass a bunch of chicken people at taxpayer’s expense. They are very clear now that the drunk guy who’s the life of the pig pickin’ ain’t necessarily cut out to lead the free world.

Indeed, finally, after Hurricane Katrina, I seem to have strange bedfellows all about. They are like people waking up from a long, long sleep. I think the conversions have more to do with the Federal governments application of the Patriot act here in East Tennessee. It smacks of the old “revenuer” type of action that these people have such a long history with. Evidently, these types of actions are occurring all over the country in small rural communities and counties. I wish I knew why the Feds were cleaning house in these small rural enclaves known for cheap property taxes and slow economic growth. But people are finally experiencing what the loss of civil liberties means to them personally.

They still want “God” back in government, but they want George W. Bush out of there. I don’t know that they will become Democrats. I doubt they’ll ever be able to vote past their narrow self-interests and single-issue politics. They may continue to be easily swayed be slick ideologues with hot button talking points. But they are going to be looking more closely at what a candidate’s history is…and realize that “less government” pretty much means lots more government at the end of the day.

1 Comment:

  1. sage said...
    wow, love your blog--especially Mike Brown's job interview and Barbara Antoinette...

    Can't say I'm a big fan of cockfights, but your story is great. Besides, that traditional Republican area of East Tenn and Western NC comes from their support of Lincoln and freedom and the little guy...

    Keep it up, I'll stop back again.

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