Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Bitter" Remarks Accurate

There has been a lot of talk recently discussing and digging through every comment made by Hillary, Obama, and McCain.


This once interesting campaign has become boring and dull. Now its all about nitpicking every word so the press and the other candidates can generate controversy. I usually leave this nitpicking off 17people, but the latest statement of controversy hit me.

Barack Obama's recent statement that has caused all kinds of consternation was this:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small
towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's
replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush
administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these
communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or
religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant
sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their

Now as with any comment this probably could have been said with a little more tact. But as someone who has worked on campaigns in 'small town America' Barack Obama's comments are dead on.

Small town America has been forgotten by the government and shit on by American industry. Go into many of these towns and you will see what NAFTA has meant to 'small towns'. Textile, furniture, manufacturing factories are now mausoleums and unemployment rates are in the double digits.

I worked in a couple towns like this in my political days. For example, Martinsville, VA. This town was crushed when Tultex closed their factory literally overnight leaving roughly 3000 workers unemployed. The result, Martinsville had an unemployment rate around 11percent when I lived there. Or Burlington, IA where Burlington Northern left the town it named itself after to build its trains somewhere else.

As most readers of 17people know, I have been lukewarm on Obama this entire campaign. He has done little to move me on issues or in rhetoric. This statement, though not in a policy speech, actually spoke to me because of my experience in small towns and 17people is here to defend Obama.

Hillary and McCain have both pounced on the Obama comments, calling them elitist. They do this because these two 'yawn inducing' candidates have little to stand on. They are dull, lifeless candidates.

Obama was right on when he made this comment and I wish he would defend the comments and use it to raise the issue of poverty. These small towns are full of good people who generally need huge satellite dishes to get TV and have awful access to broadband internet access.

They are much more religious and much more attached to their guns. This isn't a character flaw, this is how they live and who they are.

Democrats love to talk about how they represent the 'working class', but they have done little to help these areas develop either educationally or by providing better opportunities.

Republicans treat these areas differently. They manipulate the similarities on issues like gay marriage, abortion, and guns to distract folks in these towns from the real issues of importance like better health care, education, and jobs.

Barack Obama's comments were accurate and not elitist but he has to take advantage of moments like this to blast his opponents for being 'out of touch' when they act as though these small towns are progressive centers of America.

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