Something happened on the way to Jacksonville that I need to get off my chest. I was seeking for radio stations between Asheville and Spartanburg and landed on 88.7 WNCW, a station that I know fairly well because it plays an amazing variety of music from many genres. After a few minutes of good music, the song “Painting by Numbers” by James McMurtry came on. Normally, I’m a live and let live kind of person, but something about that smug, pompous, self-righteous jerk rubs me the wrong way. All of his music that I’ve heard is about how stupid conservatives are and how ignorant the average person is. The implication is that McMurtry — the son of novelist Larry McMurtry — is much smarter and more enlightened than the rest of us, and his music is his mode for spreading this enlightenment.
To me, this kind of crap is a big part of what’s wrong with our country today. The quasi-intellectual, pseudo-spiritual Left stares down from its Ivory Tower in utter disdain at the ignorance of the simple peasants, but instead of building bridges and attempting to cultivate connections as a true spiritual being would do, they hurl insults and write crappy music/poetry/novels to show off their “moral superiority.” Then, they sit around and complain amongst themselves about how bad their sales are and how that is proof enough that the average American dwells in a state of blissful ignorance. Here’s a little free advice: most people don’t like to be insulted and turn away from those who insult them.
Of course, the Right is just as pompous, just as self-righteous, and just as dangerous as the Left. Somewhere along the way, our country was hijacked by elitists from the extremes of each end of the political spectrum, people who believe that they know the best way for everyone else to live. This mentality — the belief that we “average” people are incapable of thinking for ourselves — is the biggest threat to our democracy, and the arrogance of this belief is staggering.
So to James McMurtry — and all the pseudo-spiritual children of famous people like him — come down here and walk in our shoes for awhile before you pass judgment on how ignorant and unenlightened we are. Not all of us grew up with Lonesome Dove money and connections.