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What's the NASCAR-Bushite Connection?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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NASCAR is one sport I don't much like. Indeed, though I gather that it is an immensely popular sport among millions in the United States, I don't understand its appeal. To me, it is too noisy (and if I were there in person it would be too smelly), and it seems boring to watch as cars go around and around the track with only occasional interesting developments in the standings of the competitors.

But my purpose here is NOT to put down the sport, nor to put down those who like it. Nor is it to provide an invitation for others to do either of those. Not denigration but understanding is what I'm seeking here.

And what I am interested in understanding is whether --at some subtle, underlying, spiritual level, as part of my larger on-going "spirit(s) of the times exploration-- there is an illuminating and meaningful explanation of the apparent connection between NASCAR as a popular sport phenomenon and the Bushite regime as a political phenomenon supported by many of the same people.

Statistics regarding that support would be useful here, but unfortunately I am never made note of the statistics when, in recent years, I've encountered people talking about how NASCAR fans --and in particular, the so-called "NASCAR Dads"-- have supported the Bush presidency.

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(I did find, just now, the following in a piece --at click here by Arlie Hochschild:

Among blue-collar voters, more men than women favor Bush, so we can ask what's going on with the men. It might seem that their pocketbooks say one thing, their votes another, but could it be that, by some good fortune, blue-collar men are actually better off than we imagine? No, that can't be it. About a fifth of them had household incomes of $30,000 or less; 4 in 10 between $30,000 and $75, 000; and 4 in 10 $75,000 or more. Among the poorest blue-collar families (with household incomes of $30,000 or less) a full 44 percent were pro-Bush. Perhaps even more strikingly, $75,000-plus Nascar Dads are more likely to favor Bush than their income-counterparts who hold professional and managerial jobs.

I am not imagining that being a fan of NASCAR makes one inclined to support Bush. Of course most people do go along with the opinions of their subculture, so hanging out at NASCAR events probably has an influence. But that begs the more fundamental question of why that subculture has a pro-Bush slant in the first place.

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Even less am I imagining that being a Bush supporter predisposes one to enjoy NASCAR racing.

Rather, what I am imagining is that underlying BOTH the love of the sport and the appreciation of George W. Bush is some UNDERLYING pattern of consciousness, of thought and feeling. It is in that underlying pattern, I imagine, that one can find something about what spirit(s) moves in our times.

I imagine such an underlying pattern, but I am myself not at all clear about what that pattern is. And hence this thread is not about my presenting my own thesis, but about your being invited to share any thoughts on that question you might have.

A first question might be: what is the spirit of NASCAR? Or, put in more normal language, what is it in the sport as it is, and in the fans as they are, which makes the connection meaningful to those people?

And then the second question might be: whatever the love of NASCAR says about its afficionados, how does that connect with their inclination to like and support the presidency of George W. Bush.


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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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