Monday, October 29, 2007

Are You Regular?

I got caught up in one of those Chamber of Commerce boosterism articles in the local paper yesterday. It was about how the geographic and population center of Austin had moved considerably north and west from the original Downtown location of 6th and Congress. None of this was surprising, given the intense sprawl my lovely little Blue Town has experienced over the last decade or so.

The article also talked a lot about the revitalization of downtown and the goal of getting 25,000 residents there by 2010.

Then they quoted the cranky motherfucker.

“I’m a regular citizen. I only go downtown every six months or so.”

I guess what really struck me about this was his use of the word “regular.” As if people who shop and eat and play downtown are somehow odd or irregular. Granted, our slogan here is “Keep Austin Weird,” but it got me thinking.

I would bet you that most people in America think of themselves as “regular” citizens. And they probably feel that they are relatively centrist or moderate in their viewpoints. All those scary right-wingers (and some of the left-wingers) really believe that they are fighting for the “everyman” against the fringes or “special interests.”

I wish there were some sort of actual chart where you could find dead center and plot how you believe and where that places you in the continuum of left to right. I bet most people would be shocked at their positioning, having long believed that their views were very mainstream. I bet we’d find that the far right and far left truly are the lunatic fringe, with far too much influence on the rest of us due to their vocal nature.

But I guess what pissed me off the most was that subtext that anything different from “regular” means “bad.” And we are in a dangerous place in our country’s history, where we seem to be unable to embrace our differences, be they political, racial, sexual, or religious.

I don’t know. I just find these regular folk a bit odd.

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