Sarah Palin and her ilk are talking a lot lately about "Real America." I find the idea behind such a term one of the most offensive that have circled openly in American politics in the last 20 years. That anyone running for office would adopt such Machiavellian tactics as dividing and conquering the country they claim to love marks a sad day for the whole of the nation. Even comedians like Jon Stewart are having a hard time being funny about such an idea. After all, it's hard to have a sense of humor when someone is questioning your national identity and patriotism.
It seems the only person really able to be funny about splitting the country is Sarah Palin herself, who visited the set of Saturday Night Live and had a good laugh last weekend. But it was less the cathartic type of laughter that accompanies good-willed humor, the kind of laughter that reminds us we're all the same, than the kind of awkward chortle that calcifies people's thoughts and hardens their hearts. "Real Americans" loved her dismissive, patronizing tone more than ever, and Americans like me (fake American?) chuckled guiltily and reluctantly gave her credit for showing her face on the show.
The two groups might seem different because they have a hard time understanding each other, but the truth is that they are more similar than either would like to believe. Every American loves this country, and every American wants what's best for it. Sometimes we laugh at ourselves and sometimes we laugh at each other, but no one should ever call into question the virtuosity or validity of another's Americanism when our motives are the same. The fact that McCain's campaign has gone down that road is disgraceful.