For some ungodly reason, totally not-racist conservative PR flak Liz Mair, a person born in Seattle and raised in England, was given a whole dang column in the New York Times to wax poetic on The West. She did not disappoint.
Mair’s flawed thesis is simple enough to follow, and is topped only by an incredibly botched delivery: While all the media attention recently has focused on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, she believes there has been a monumental shift in American politics that has gone “largely unnoticed.” That shift, she’s allowed to claim in the nation’s most-read newspaper, is the increased importance of the Mountain West.
Now, there has long been a space in national newspapers for people to claim that regional changes are being ignored by national politicians. What’s odd, in this instance, is that Mair is not from the region she’s writing about. She was not born there, nor did she grow up there. According to her website, “Liz is married and lives with her husband, son and cats in Arlington, Virginia,” which means she spends most of her time in D.C.
In theory, this would seem to require an NYT opinion editor to force Mair to disclose her lack of ties to the area and present some other reason for why she was granted this space and platform. In this crappy reality, though, the Times gives her a pat on the back, equips her with the accursed royal We, and allows her to rampantly culture vulture her way to one of the laziest and most provably inaccurate columns that’s appeared in the section in recent memory. Which, considering Bret Stephens’ continued employment, is saying something!
To give you a sense of just how depraved this editing process was, here is Mair literally citing a “soft-spoken cowboy” stereotype as a reference point of the western persona for the presumed idiot of a reader (emphasis mine):
Who speaks for voters living in and around the Rockies — or those of us who think like them?
We’re the ones who didn’t get Mr. Trump’s State of the Union line about fences and love (maybe we all grew up hearing our parents or grandparents singing the old cowboy song “Don’t Fence Me In” too much). Even if we’re liberal, we tend to be less averse to gun rights than the big stars of the Democratic Party. We’re generally not brash like Mr. Trump and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, and more quiet-spoken (consider the stereotype of the soft-spoken cowboy). We tend to be more concerned about civil liberties and freedoms and skeptical of government, even if we know it needs to exist and do things. We or our families are people who ditched the rest of the country for the West, so we tend to be a little more sympathetic to immigrants (and hey, a lot of us are immigrants or descended from recent immigrants).
Interestingly, Mair seems to wholly be speaking to and about white Western people, and not, say, the massive Indigenous population that fills the region. But whatever. She’s American-born and British-raised; colonizing is deep in her bones.
It’s possible I’m being too harsh. I mean, maybe she—a professional political operative—has some astute assessments of the current political concerns of the people she is so insultingly trying to represent? (My dear reader, she does not.)
Pointing to the (inevitably doomed) presidential campaigns of Colorado politicians John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, Mair dives into a brief, two-paragraph breakdown of why both parties aren’t equipped to scoop up the region’s votes. For the Republicans, it’s due to the party’s reliance on pandering to Trump die-hards in the Rust Belt. For Democrats, well, just get a load of the very first reason she posits as one those in the West do not care about (emphasis mine):
Overall, the party is strongly geared toward the interests of stereotypical coastal city dwellers: prioritizing environmental concerns,
Now, check out the rest of the list (again, emphasis mine):
social justice matters and “wokeness,” and policies aimed at helping people cope with the challenges of booming, pricey-to-live-in cities where “new economy” industries dominate.
Not only is Mair swapping out cultures as some would shoes, she is emphatically wrong about damn near every single aspect her perception of the differences in Western politics! I spent just three days in Boise in the fall covering the gubernatorial race; even then, by talking to maybe two dozen people, it was abundantly clear that concerns over the rising cost of living were second only to healthcare. A simple Google search by Mair would have turned up the current fight for rent control going on right now, today, in Denver. These are not difficult-to-find or underreported items! There are dozens of search pages filled with articles and studies analyzing these very real problems she is trying to claim as non-issues, all in an attempt to Be A Real Westerner. Which, to reiterate, she is clearly not!
This is not the first time hiding behind one of her various cultural facades has gotten Mair in trouble—though, to be fair, landing a Times column isn’t so much getting in trouble as a massive signal boost. In January, Mair posted the tweet located at the top of this column, then claimed it was sarcasm that us Americans simply wouldn’t understand, then went on a tweetstorm that amounted to a whole bunch of nothing.
And yet, here she is, four months later, just throwing shit at the wall to see what will stick, all while the New York Times vigorously nods its head and mashes the “Publish” button.