Came across this story about Alligator, Mississippi (as I imagine a couple million other people did, since the story was linked on Drudge this morning).

I find the story sad.  Not because they elected a black mayor, of course.  I think upon inspection, an honest observer would conclude that the rural parts of the country are actually quite colorblind in comparison to the urban areas where race and ethnicity are disasterously important.  But I digress…

The sad thing going on in Alligator can be found about halfway down the article:

“After 30 years, I didn’t think an African-American would be able to be mayor. I didn’t think the position was open to me. When he won, I decided that I knew the changes that needed to be made here and I thought that I could make those changes.

“If we don’t look after our youth, what do we have? The population is dying out and I want more people here. I want better living conditions.

I just want the people to be comfortable. Small towns like this depend on government funding and that’s what we’re seeking.

So, the big accomplishment of having the town’s first black mayor is to become more dependent on the government?  He’s wrong about small towns – they don’t have to be dependent on the government.  One of the hallmark of American Ruralism (is that even a term?) – and one of the most romanticized notion in our culture –  is the quiet self-sufficiency that tends to characterize such towns.  Of course it’s a stereotype, but isn’t it a desirable one?  There’s more:

The town’s facilities were substandard, he said, gesturing towards the humble town hall, where a “No Loitering” sign is nailed next to the door. “There isn’t even a phone or a fax machine in there. How can we communicate with the outside world and ask for things?” There was jubilation among the town’s blacks after Mr Brown’s victory.

“”Everybody out here was whooping and hollering and running and trying to flip,” said Patrina Brown, 25, the new mayor’s niece and newly elected as one of Alligator’s five aldermen.

His primary concern with having a telephone is to ask for things from other people.  Sickening.  Nevermind that having a telephone could be used to make the local government more responsive to its taxpayers.  Nevermind that not having one can save money.  The ability to “ask for things” should be about 15th on the list of reasons for having a telephone in the town hall.

As romantic as rural life can be made out to be, all is not always well.