The Universal Notebook: The rise of the Angry White Guy

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If I’m not careful, I’m going to turn into the very thing I claim to despise – an old Angry White Guy who blames everyone but himself for his failures and those of this country.

These days, the number of AWGs seems to be increasing, and that’s what makes me so angry. That and the arrogance and the hypocrisy.

I was at Town Meeting last week, for instance, and as we voted on the warrant items, appropriating money to run the schools and municipal services, there was one guy who voted against just about everything. You’d think that repeatedly being on the losing end of 120-1 votes might cause one to reassess their reasoning, but I got the distinct feeling this guy was 1) not motivated by reason and 2) firmly believed he was right and everyone else was wrong.

“That’s what makes this such a great country,” quipped one citizen about this party of one.

I know, there’s one in every crowd. And that used to be OK. When I served on the School Committee a decade ago we had one member who ticked the rest of us off by voting against the school budget even though he had helped to develop it. I guess it was supposed to be some sort of statement of principle, but it struck me as sheer, self-serving hypocrisy. Apparently, he had to save face with his fellow tax-capping cranks.

And I remember local TV sportscaster Don MacWilliams being the odd man out on a lot of 8-1 votes when he was on the Portland City Council in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then his skinflint nature was viewed as that of a loveable old curmudgeon. Now the curmudgeons seem to have taken over and they’re not so lovable.

I’m thinking, for instance, of a local businessman who was in the news recently, blaming his competitors for the fact that he couldn’t make his business work in Portland. Really? I thought conservatives believed competition was what made America great. It’s not, of course, but that is what they seem to believe. Free markets and all that nonsense.

Would it ever have occurred to this Angry White Guy that the reason his business was floundering was that he was not a pleasant person to do business with and that his merchandise was way out of date? Nope. It’s everyone else’s fault.

And that’s one of the infuriating ironies of the Angry White Guys – they preach personal responsibility but they don’t practice it. There’s always someone to blame.

The LePage administration, as we have seen, is filled with old Angry White Guys, starting with the governor himself. They blame the economic crisis in Maine and America on workers, labor unions, liberals, immigrants, and welfare cheats. But the truth is that greedy corporations and conservatives caused the economic collapse and then refused to raise taxes to pay the bills.

The three most high profile old Angry White Guys, now that the GOP has settled on Brother Romney, have come from the world of rockers and jocks.

First there was Motor City Madman Ted Nugent, the rock ‘n’ roll gun nut, telling the world that he would “be dead or in jail” if Barack Obama is re-elected. He then managed to persuade the Secret Service that he was not threatening the president. I think he was.

Then there was Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, refusing to go to the White House with his teammates to be honored for winning the Stanley Cup because he takes issue with President Obama’s politics. As sportswriters quickly pointed out, like most ultra-conservatives, Thomas is a me-first kind of guy, not a team player. Now he plans to take a year off from his $3 million-a-year job blocking hockey pucks to prepare for the coming economic collapse. Good riddance.

And finally there’s Curt Schilling, the former workhorse of the Red Sox pitching staff, who turns out to be a horse’s ass in private life. Schilling, who makes a big show of his conservative Republican political beliefs – smaller government, lower taxes, free market – is in the process of screwing the state of Rhode Island out of the $75 million it invested in his failed video game business and is still begging for more.

Talk about a corporate welfare cheat. Talk about a hypocrite. Can you blame a guy for being angry?

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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