I am in a unique position to write this article, because I am neither a cidiot nor a Columbia County native. I was raised in Connecticut, but spent my 20s in Ulster County, which had its own cidiot vs. native feud.
The difference in Ulster County was you were considered a cidiot only if you actively lived in NYC and were visiting for the day, whereas in Columbia County, you’re a cidiot unless you can trace your local ancestral line back to the Jurassic period.
The cidiots were annoying in Ulster County, blocking foot traffic with their maddeningly slow pace as they stared into the windows of shops natives would never consider buying from, simply because the stores sold things you would never actually need, such as single-batch olive oils or antique cribs (“Why, the Bensons would simply LOVE that crib for their sunning nook!”).
The Amtrak station in Hudson whisks an unrelenting stream of cidiots up the east bank of the Hudson every weekend, where they can pay between $75 and $370 a night to stay in one of the 50+ Airbnbs offered in the Hudson-Greenport area. A 55-room boutique hotel, the Wick, is under construction a two-minute walk from the station.
But the issue here is not visitors; it is cidiots with second homes and those who have permanently relocated here.
I talked to the former mayor of a Columbia County town about how things had changed in his municipality since he left his position. Things “were much simpler” before 9/11, he said, which I think everybody can agree about, what with the war on terror and all, but he was talking about the influx of 9/11 refugees that spurted up to his town.
“Yeah,” I had said, “a new population coming in always changes things, sometimes for the worse, sometimes neutrally, sometimes for the better, but it’s always different.”
You could tell he had wanted me to to stop at “the worse.”
Tiffany Martin Hamilton, the mayor of Hudson, occasionally gets shit for being a cidiot, which doesn’t even make sense, since she was born and raised in Hudson. The problem was, she actually had the gall to leave, living in California for many years before returning four years before running for office. This was too much for Columbia County natives. She had picked up the cidiot vibe.
There’s a wide range in the quality of comments found below news articles. There’s the comments below Washington Post articles, which can only be written by those with accounts, and everyone with an account seems to be on about the same intellectual level as those actually writing the articles.
Then there’s the Facebook comments below articles in the Register-Star, Hudson’s newspaper and my professional alma mater. They’re misspelled, the grammar is perplexing, and they can somewhat get downright violent. This is especially true with the crime articles, where commenters will actually suggest straight-up murdering the criminals on the courthouse lawn.
When not advocating summary executions, the commentators bitch about cidiots, and how they are ruining the county. Some common insults thrown around are “libtard,” “Obamazombie,” “snowflake” and any of these terms preceded by “butthurt” (which strikes me as some sort of rape reference).
The schism has a political dimension. Columbia County went for Hillary Clinton during the last election, but by less than a percentage point. It was pretty much an even split. I’m not going to say all Columbia County natives voted for Trump and all cidiots voted for Clinton, but it damn near SEEMS that way.
Columbia County Trump supporters are so pro-Trump they continued campaigning for him after he won: when the Hudson Common Council was debating whether to make the municipality a sanctuary city, two people lofted a giant TRUMP banner outside (backwards, much to the amusement of Trump-haters), and some jackass in a pick up keeps revving down my street at seven in the morning with a TRUMP flag anchored in the truck’s bed.
When working for the Register-Star, I often had to get public comment (or ‘man-on-the-streets’) for news stories involving Trump. I quickly learned that if I wanted to get a Trump-hater, I would simply have to stop people near the pricey bakeries and antique stores of Warren Street in Hudson, whereas if I wanted a Trump supporter, I simply had to drive ten minutes to the Greenport Walmart, where I estimated upwards of 80 percent of the shoppers were passionately in love with the president.
So, is the schism simply economic? Is it working-class Columbia County natives vs. rich, liberal cidiots?
It’s not like there aren’t a lot of poor people in the city (the poverty rate in NYC is 20.6 percent, vs. 11.7 percent in Columbia County, not taking into consideration a sandwich costs 10 goddamn dollars down there), but they aren’t the ones buying second homes up here.
But with money, at least in theory, comes the spread of money. I guess this could be equated with the trickle-down theory of economics, but that would assume cidiots are spending their money on businesses not run by other cidiots.
And herein lies the question: will the two groups ever mix, or will the county consist of two detached bodies, rotating around each other with their own stores, social events and political views?
Or we could simply wait a century, and the cidiots would have been here long enough to become natives themselves. Then there would be a whole new crop of cidiots for them to bitch about.