Trent Lott calling John Kerry ďa French-speaking socialist from Boston, Massachusetts" would be funny except that unfortunately, in some parts of America, implying someone does something different like *gasp* speaking a language other than English (let alone the language of those cheese-eating surrender monkeys) is not a positive.
What Trent Lott told a crowd of people at one fair in Nebraska is ultimately immaterial to the overall election. It's just another stroke on the canvas of Us versus Them that's being painted in America these days. But it's also about the isolation of America from the greater world.
It's a human trait to fear that which is different. And if you only speak English, everyone you know only speaks English, and you like it that way, then hearing that a political candidate is not like you creates a sense of difference. And that sense of difference, that subtle feeling that the candidate is not a part of your world, makes a difference when you're in the voting booth on election day.
I know of a guy who was contacted by some business types about starting a new venture. They were based in England and he lived in Middle America. He decided to commit to the project and jumped through all kinds of paperwork hoops, getting his visa in place so he could move to Scotland to start a new business. When he got there, there were some issues with the investors and it was a hectic few weeks straightening out some of the wrinkles with his colleagues (not surprising when you're trying to start a new company at a distance). Once he'd gotten everything set how he wanted it, he cancelled the sale of his house and came right back to America.
I was amazed. I couldn't believe after all the work he'd put in getting the right to work legally abroad, that after a couple of weeks he would turn around and run for home, but he did. And he's happy about it. To be honest, I think he's a bit of an idiot for running home so fast. But as I think about it more, living in such a large and homogenous society does that to you. It's hard to handle differences when so much of America is the same. And some politicians have made a lot of political hay on this fact.
I don't know what if anything can be done about this state of things. The only way to become comfortable with difference is to experience it on a regular basis. When you live in a city like New York or San Francisco, that's pretty easy to do. Itís not so easy living in Nebraska.