The Urban Liberal.

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.

Sanity: Restored.

It’s 6:04 AM as I manage to somehow turn off my alarm in the dark of my good friends’ apartment. I roll off the couch and attempt to avoid a sleeping woman on an air mattress, a naked attention-craving cat, and other objects out to trip me on my way to the bathroom. Somehow, I managed to shower, put on make up, and grab a cup of coffee after my power nap of three hours (due to catching up/sign making/watching the original Amityville Horror until 3 AM). Friend with job and I navigate to the nearest Metro, which surprisingly wasn’t as crowded as I imagined it would be at 7 AM. The car was packed with signs and laughter and jokes and compassion. The people ranged from teens to grandparents, in every color, plenty of gay couples, and they all had one thing in common: the desire to restore sanity to America.

Upon arrival at the Smithsonian exit, I held my sign proudly on the long walk to the front of the line. Strangers galore, but everyone was friendly. Friend with job and I were interviewed by Forbedre about why we were there (my answer: to have more people show up than at the Rally to Restore Honor… CHECK) and the economy and so on. We continued our journey to the front with compliments, smiles, chuckles, and photo shoots along the way. I did not receive a single negative comment or look towards my poster the entire day. The mindset of this group of people was that of humor. And perhaps acceptance.

Despite the fact that we had no idea where we were going, or where the best place was to stand, we somehow made it to the front. We settled in, a little to the right of the stage and in front of the mega screen. As I check my phone for the time, I realize there’s very little signal and that we would be standing in that spot for the next four hours until the rally began. We made some friends, used the porta-potties, and waited with anticipation for what? We weren’t entirely sure.

At noon, on the dot, The Roots start to play. I had heard their stuff before, but they were incredible live. Makes me want to go buy their album. As everyone was getting excited because it finally started, there was a fabulous surprise. John Legend made his way on stage.  The day progressed with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert bickering back and forth about how sanity was better!-no, fear was better!-no, back to sanity! Which included a rather interesting playoff between Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and Ozzy’s “Crazy Train,” followed by the O’jays’ performance of “Love Train.” The whole ordeal was an interesting mix of music and chaos, that just happened to fit together perfectly.

Acts between the music were humorous. Father Guido Sarducci gave a benediction of sorts, asking “God” to give us a sign when he stated the “correct” religion. Stewart gave out awards to people who have acted rationally in a difficult situation (like the lady who calmly explained how she and others needed jobs, and felt like nothing was being accomplished to Obama) and Colbert gave fear awards (my favorite was to Anderson Cooper’s tight black t-shirt).

Towards the end, Stewart and Colbert held a Formidable Debate. Colbert tried to defeat sanity with his giant life size personification of fear, which was then destroyed like the Wicked Witch when the crowd chanted that we were no longer afraid. Next on the agenda? Jon Stewart’s closing speech.

“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do.  But we live now in hard times, not end times.  And we can have animus and not be enemies.”

“If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Jon Stewart managed to pull everything that happened that day together in his closing speech. To give you the Spark Notes’ version of it, basically the media takes every possible issue and blows it out of proportion. There are terrible, horrible things happening every single day, but the extent to which the media makes it out to be, is unacceptable. To be able to make rational, informed decisions as American citizens, we need more unbiased, rational, informed, news stations. And yes, although I do blame Fox “News” for most of the biased-ness that is occurring, most other news stations lean left. It’s not that hard to figure out. Either way, we as Americans need to start working together instead of being torn apart by our religious, political, and ethnic differences. We’re different, yes, but we don’t need to continuously bash each other. We’re all still Americans, and I’m glad we at least have that in common.

 

When I get a chance, I’ll also link all the bogs, news articles, and magazines that my sign made it into.