Where African Americans and Glen Beck fans intersect: McDonalds

On my way back from checking out the 828 “Restoring Honor” rally I popped into McDonalds. All day I’d been seeing groups on the national mall: Tea Partiers, Glen Beck groupies, Progressive counter protestors, and stray spectators like myself. These groups remained separate from each other. However, McDonalds is that odd demographic intersection. On my left – an African American family with two cute little girls gobbled up happy meals; on my right – a couple with American flag T-shirts and a hunkering for quarter pounders with cheese. They had stocked up on a few extra years and pounds, and probably had kids in college. For 15 minutes every group that walked in was either a local black family with kids or a red state family dodging the sun and heat.

The nation-in-a-microcosm parallel didn’t end there. Behind the counter, a group of young hard working foreigners quickly filled orders, speaking spanish to each other while barely managing to understand my english. I asked for a #6 meal and got a #5. (It was right, plus or minus one). As I thought more about McDonalds, I realized the group most absent were the blue-state hipsters and politicos – the sort who just moved to Columbia Heights and are ecstatic over the new Whole Foods. They don’t fit into the McDonalds vision yet – of families with little kids playing with their happy meal toys together and older couples enjoying good chunk-o-cow in silence under one inclusive roof.

Every Glen Beck supporter I talked to was friendly and easy going. No shouting or polical grandstanding here. They knew how to react appropriately to the gesture of eye-contact and a smile, unlike some blue-state big-city snobs. They answered questions like “where are you from?” and “how was the rally” without taking this as an opportunity to preach at me. I spoke for a good 15 minutes each with fellas from northern New York state and central Ohio. Both had ridden a bus overnight to be here, and neither seemed to treat 828 as the rally to end all rallies. One guy said, “I’m glad I saw Glen Beck. He’s a showman and had a few gaffes, but that’s Glen.”

I wish we had more of Glen Beck’s audience around here, to make DC friendlier and less messagey, but please no more Glen Becks.

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