I know. I know! Many, many Republicans already live in Brooklyn. Not everyone here is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal hipster like Bay Ridge's own Henry C. Stewart. But not every Brooklyn Republican, or Brooklyn-visiting Republican, is as high-profile as Peggy Noonan. Noonan, of course, is a Republican of the Reagan Republican mold, which means that she likes jelly beans and maybe will fall prey to dementia? Not sure, exactly. But it does mean that she hates Mitt Romney, who is a Republican of the cyborg talk show host mold. Two sides of the same coin? Sure. And, let me just say, that's a dark, dark coin.
Anyway! Noonan came to Brooklyn last weekend—Bay Ridge to be precise—and made some very interesting observations, which she then blogged about for the Wall Street Journal, which is awesome for me because I get to write about her trip, and also for America. Peggy Noonan really cares about America.
And not just the America that she's always known—a homogenous America where people all look alike and speak the same language (English, obviously) and eat jellybeans. No, Noonan cares about the new America that she experienced at the Bay Ridge street fair. This America is made up of "young Arab women in headscarves and abayas, Italian kids from the old Bay Ridge, elderly Irish women who go to the local evangelical church, young Latinos, tall blond Nordic-looking girls in black suede leather boots, Filipino families." And presumably, since it's a NYC street fair, a lot of people selling socks.
"Tall blond Nordic-looking girls in black suede leather boots," Peggy Noonan? Nice attention to detail. This kind of makes me more interested in the direction that America is heading, to be honest. Noonan also observes such amazing things as a hair salon where "everyone spoke Chinese, including a 5- or 6-year-old Asian girl so proud of her new bangs." Imagine that! A young girl who could speak Chinese! What would Noonan do if she ever went to China? Be pretty impressed, I'd imagine. Noonan also notices that everyone from"Asian kids" to "teenage Arab girls" are using iPhones. She doesn't explicity say "très Brooklyn" but you know she's thinking it. No, what Noonan does say is this modest statement: "The entire political future of America is on this street."
Wow. That's a big statement, Peggy Noonan. Explain yourself, please! Well, you see, Noonan noticed that all around her were people, ordinary people, "Everyone different, everyone getting along, everyone feeling free to be who they are but everyone also—you could just kind of see it—feeling free to be different from who they are, too."
Different from who they are? How so, Peggy Noonan? Well, "[t]here was a really loud kind of rap group, and I asked who it was because I didn’t get its composition—young black and Hispanic men, a middle-aged white woman." So, basically, Noonan saw the Black-Eyed Peas. And kindly guessed Fergie to be "middle-aged."
Later, Noonan's niece's fiancé, Dominic—is he one of those"Italians kids from old Bay Ridge" that Noonan mentioned above? not sure—wanted to be a little bit more clear about what was going on in that head of Peggy Noonan's. Noonan explained to Dominic what it was that they had just witnessed, because apparently, Dominic was to dense to understand on his own. Dominic, c'mon!
Noonan told him exactly what was going on in the minds and hearts of all the people they'd seen that day: "Family is important, so is faith, variety is a given, it’s baked in the cake. They want peacefulness, education for their kids, they want to rise, they don’t want crime. They don’t want a dangerous culture, one they have to protect their kids from. They’re like every other immigrant that’s ever been, they don’t want to have government bother them, overregulate them or squish them down, they want everyone to get help if they need it, they want to get good jobs and be free to be who they are and also become who they want to be."
Basically, sweet, simple Dominic, they all want to be Republicans! They just don't know it yet. Which is why, even though Noonan says that the people she saw are "politically up for grabs," it might come as a surprise to her to know that Bay Ridge is comprised of roughly 50% Democrats, 25% Republicans, and 25% undecided or Independents. Although Bay Ridge is certainly more politically conservative than Park Slope, it is still a strong Democratic force.
Noonan really tries to hammer home the point that these people she saw in Bay Ridge "are not Democrats and Republicans, they are citizens. And who wins them, wins the future. They haven’t inhaled a political persuasion, they’re getting a sense of both parties, they’re meeting them." Which is weird, because she also notes that, while there IS an Obama 2012 booth at the fair, there is NO Romney booth. But then, she'd be the first to admit that just about everyone hates Romney, it's just that some people hate Obama more.
Noonan is hopeful though. She's hopeful that someday all of America will be like Brooklyn. Much like how "the Irish and Italians and Germans and Slavs...became: the American people" perhaps someday all of the Asians, Italians, Arabs, Latinos, and Nordic dominatrix-types will also become American people.
Who knows? Maybe even the Black-Eyed Peas will become part of Peggy Noonan's America. For a Republican in Brooklyn, anything is possible. Even Fergie's salvation. Even that.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen