Wednesday, July 3, 2024

NY Times magazine's long read on Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez invokes rurality (and, of course, class)

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez's X (formerly Twitter) bio

Jason Zengerle's story appears in the New York Times Magazine this week under the headline, "The Blue-Collar Democrat Who Wants to Fix the Party’s Other Big Problem."  The subhead deploys the "r-word," which is frequently used to describe Gluesenkamp Perez's southwest Washington district.  "Marie Gluesenkamp Perez flipped a rural red district to get to Congress. Now she wants to help her party do more of the same."  I'm going to refer to her as MGP in this post.

I've written a lot about MGP here on the blog.  For this post, I'm just going to excerpt the bits of this story with the word "rural" in them; there are nine including the subhead.  (Elsewhere, on the Working Class Whites blog, I emphasize the parts of this story that are more explicitly about class).  

The first use of "rural"  comes in the opening paragraph where the lede describes her as "a first-term Democrat from a rural district in Washington State."  The story elsewhere describes her district as "includ[ing] Portland’s northern suburbs and exurbs but is more than 7,000 square miles and largely rural."

The next mention comes much later in relation to another rural congressperson, Jared Golden, whose politics are similar to MGP's:
Representing Maine’s almost entirely rural Second Congressional District, [Jared Golden] was one of only four Democrats who deviated from the party during the vote on Trump’s first impeachment (two of them subsequently became Republicans) and the only Democrat to vote against President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act (over a tax break for the wealthy); at the same time, he voted for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and Biden’s $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act. “The Republican Party spends millions of dollars telling people I’m a progressive,” Golden told me. “The Progressive Caucus spends time telling people I’m a conservative. A lot of people, especially the media, like to call me a moderate. I would say I’m none of these things and I’m all of these things. And my constituents are too.”
Describing MGP and her husband Dean, who have an auto repair shop:
They lived in a school bus that Gluesenkamp Perez bought off Craigslist, vagabonding around Portland until they found a rural piece of land on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, where they built a house for themselves and, eventually, their son.

* * * 

The most intriguing is Rebecca Cooke, who’s running to unseat the Republican firebrand Derrick Van Orden in a rural Wisconsin district. Cooke, age 36, operates a small hospitality business and works as a waitress. On the campaign trail, she is attacking Van Orden on abortion, Jan. 6 and a well-reported incident last year in which he cursed out a group of teenage Senate pages in the Capitol; she touts her parents’ dairy farm and her own employment history as crucial touchstones. “You don’t see a lot of people my age or with my type of background running for Congress,” she says. “And it’s because we’re all busy working.” 

At a campaign stop MGP talked about what this year's vote will say about her constituents and their community:  

I’m trying to get the political machine to understand that rural people aren’t going to put up with Joe Kent’s [expletive].  People think that we’re just ignorant, that we are small-minded, that we are uneducated in rural communities. And we know that’s [expletive].

I'm thinking about how there's a lot of Michael Sandel's Tyranny of Merit in her messaging. 

A a rally in Longview, Washington, population 37,818, MGP said,
The reason that I am on the top of the R.N.C.’s hit list is not because of my bangs. It’s because if Democrats figure out how to hold and represent seats where people work for a living in rural communities and in small towns, places like here, we will break the map on what it means to have a governing majority.

I'll also note here that MGP's X (formerly Twitter) account seems to claim her rurality where it includes "lives in the woods."  

No comments: