I Call Upon The Hippies And Rednecks of Anderson County to Unite in the Pursuit of A Better Government by Susan Frederick

Following the advent of the short-lived but still very informative focus groups first conceived and conducted under the auspices of the Anderson County Democratic Party over the last several months, I got to thinking about how I, a liberal, progressive, Jewish Baby Boomer, who might proudly bear the monikers of “Sunshine” (with all due credit to the fine film “Remember the Titans”) or “Hippie” might best convince the more conservative, mainly Christian and possibly even Southern Baptists who share the beautiful country around here with me and who, I suspect, would probably proudly wear the moniker of “Redneck,” that we can all get behind the thought that “Every Tennessean deserves a chance at the American Dream regardless who they are, what they look like, who they love, or where they come from."  That’s a mighty tall order there, “Pardner”, at least in the mind of this here “Pilgrim” (with all due respect to the late, great John Wayne, who did not proudly wear the moniker bestowed upon him at birth, Marion Robert Morrison.  Almost makes me wonder if he’d have kept his name if he came to fame more recently!).

As is my wont, I dove into the internet to try to find out what the difference is between hippies and rednecks.  I found one blogger who declared that, in some stereotypical ways, there are really not that many.  Both like quiet country life and to live off the land.  Both are very vocal in their beliefs.  Both are pro conservation.  Both are anti-government.  Both are often known drug and alcohol users.  Both...well you get the idea hippies and rednecks are pretty damn similar and if it were not for radical idiots from both camps - i.e. Timothy Leary and Timothy McVeigh - rednecks and hippies might just be able to coexist.  These were his words, not mine, though I’d like to think that his conclusion might actually be doable here in Anderson County. 

We know that the term “redneck” generally refers to someone who lives in a rural area.  Its application was later expressly extended to identify a poor white person of the Southern United States.  In terms of today’s politics, it might be stretched to apply to someone who lives in a small city like Rocky Top, a small town like Oliver Springs, or even in an unincorporated community like Andersonville.  The entry for “redneck” in Wikipedia says that by the 1970s, its meaning had expanded to mean bigoted, loutish, and opposed to modern ways.  In the 20th century, Patrick Huber (whoever he was) emphasized the theme of masculinity in the continued expansion of the term in noting, "The redneck has been stereotyped in the media and popular culture as a poor, dirty, uneducated, and racist Southern white man.” The final “nail in the coffin” of the anti-intellectual, ill-educated and closed-minded connotation of “redneck” was when the term expanded in meaning beyond the poor Southerner to refer to "a bigoted and conventional person, a loutish ultra-conservative."  Today, “redneck” might be used broadly to degrade working class and rural whites that are perceived by urban progressives to be insufficiently liberal.  Many members of our Southern communities, I suspect, may still proudly embrace the term as a self-identifier, which might be why they listen to Donald Trump yet are not open to hearing what Anderson County Democrats want them to know about us.

Most of us probably first heard of “hippies” when an estimated 100,000 of them traveled to San Francisco in 1967’s “Summer of Love,” congregating in the Haight-Ashbury district and popularizing the term where they found support for their ideals of love and peace. The July 7, 1967, issue of Time magazine featured a cover story that described the “guidelines of the hippie code” as: "Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”  While many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, some people argue that hippies "sold out" during the 1980s and became part of “the materialist, consumer culture.”  Since I was only 12 in 1967, I’m pretty sure that label could not have been applied to me in real time, though some of you might recognize yourselves in this timely description.  I can say, though, that I, along with most of you, I suspect, would for the most part self-identify as people who “emerged from a society that … produced birth-control pills, a counterproductive war in Vietnam, the liberation and idealism of the civil rights movement, feminism, homosexual rights, FM radio, …, a strong economy, and a huge number of baby-boom teenagers” in accordance with thoughts expressed in In Defense of Hippies by Danny Goldberg (whoever he was).

Now this is not to say that we Democratic Hippies and the generally Republican Rednecks of Anderson County can never agree on any points of government policy at any level.  As a matter of fact, I would posit that, based on descriptions of the 10-15 Types of People You Might Meet in Anderson County (which I copied and pasted, nearly verbatim, from this June 18, 20106 entry by Jenn Shockley http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/kentucky/the-15-types-of-people-ky/), it should be pretty easy since many of them (and us) seem to overlap!


Eric KellerComment