Recently, I’ve been asked a bit about where the phrase “Urban Liberal” came from and/or what exactly it means. Over the past few months, this phrase is something I’ve come to relate to on a personal and political level. One morning, while browsing the political section of Joseph-Beth, I happened upon a tiny little book on the bottom shelf. It was the only copy, but as I flipped through the hundred page book and realized it was under $10, I knew it had to be my copy. I brought it home and read through the first chapter. Here is what caught my attention:
Toyota Priuses, Montessori schools, and the Gap were made for them. They work in law, academia, marketing, or computers and, as such, flock to urban centers where the work is and where Whole Foods, fusion restaurants, and stores with massive wine selections are. They’re why NARAL, the ACLU, and gay-marriage organizations do so well with fundraising. Same story with Barack Obama’s campaign. They saw themselves in Obama, with his fashionable clothes, smart wife, adorable children, interest in keeping himself healthy, and secret smoking problem. Obama is still a little hip for all his ambitions and hardworking qualities, and that’s what every urban liberal wants to be.
This type spans both the baby boomer generation and Generation X, the major difference between them being that the former clings to coolness by retaining its Grateful Dead records and perhaps having a collection of doodads from around the world (often with a Native American focus), while the Gen Xers lean more toward having concert or pop art (always tastefully framed). No matter what their age, they love The Daily Show and they love rock music, and most drift from a period of being on top of the newest mysic to being set in their ways without even realizing it.
They’re environmentalists who long for universal health care and good public transportation and shop at farmers’ markets, but they’re not anti-capitalist, no matter what Rush Limbaugh says. They’re downright brand-conscious, in fact, especially when it comes to Apple products. They’re the people who got fair-trade coffee into Starbucks, and massage therapists into Microsoft.
Everyone loathes them.
No, really. When right-wing talk-radio hosts rant about the “liberal elite,” they mean these folks. Leftists hate them, too, calling them sellouts or worse, and suggest that liberals’ tolerance of capitalism may be worse than conservatives’ championing thereof. Urban liberals even kind of loathe themselves, or at least are eager to trip over themselves to make fun of themselves, which is why the website Stuff White People Like was such a massive hit. This very section is another flavor of that same type of mockery.
THEIR VERSION OF UTOPIA: One where Republican voters calmed the fuck down, looked over the facts, and started voting like sensible beings, instead of a rabid pack of uneducated reactionaries. Urban liberals don’t need much more than that, because, outside of the world of politics, we’re talking about a pretty satisfied group of people–or self-satisfied, if you prefer.
Now, let me point out a few differences. I am actually a little more into the new Honda CR-Z and H&M. Perhaps that’s because I’m Generation Y, wishing I had been a Gen-Xer. Right on though, with the Andy Warhol artwork, The Daily Show, and my music selection. Apple is truly the one brand I very much enjoy. To the point that my new iPhone 4 is being shipped to me overnight so I can throw this BlackBerry out my window on my way to purchase fair-trade coffee from Starbucks. My Utopia would also include Glenn Beck being banned to a gulag in Siberia. Well, I guess I’d settle for him being thrown in a loony bin, kept away from innocent civilians so he stops invoking terror every day to the uneducated. Anyway, back to the point. This bio of the Urban Liberal is me.
So, folks, this is what Urban Liberal means to yours truly. Thank you, Amanda Marcotte, for writing with such a passion that inspires me every week to write the book in the back of my mind with my partner in crime, The Juris Atheist. Fin.