Heartland


 

 

Well, at least she didn’t promise them coal mines

 

It was no surprise to anyone that Hillary Clinton would win the Moutain State, West Virginia yesterday in its Democratic primary contest. She beat Barack Obama by well over 50 percentage point and demonstrated once again that when it comes to appealing to ignorant, embittered, maginalized white folks, she can beat the Senator from Illinois.

There is a compelling case that many are making that due to the fact that Sen. Clinton does so well in rounding up votes from the rough-around-the-edges crowd (white folks in particular), she should be the nominee. After all, someone’s gotta beat McCain, right?

I wont deny that Clinton does well with lower educated white folks. The polls show it, the history indicates it and even some of the comments made from some of the people who came out less to vote for Hillary but to vote against Sen. Obama. Among their complaints about the man who could become the nation’s first black president, that he’s Muslim, hates America, doesn’t salute the flag.

These of course are all nonsensical. Sen. Obama is not Muslim, has lead the Senate in reciting the pledge (which is of course a pretty empty gesture) and also seems to embody something extraordinarily American, which is that someone from lower middle class origins can rise to prominence here and do well with a good work ethic and a thirst for education. That of course should be a selling point for any candidate, Democratic or Republican. Then again, when you’re dealing with hillbillies, it aint so easy to get these things across.

What should be exponentially troubling to most folks about the Clinton campaign is it willingness (purely Machiavellian) to play to the demographic of embittered, willfully ignorant, racist red necks. By saying that, I’m not implying that people who don’t vote for Obama are racist, but that in those hot under the blue collar contests that the junior senator from Arkansas…errr, New York has one, the specter of race, more particularly, the fear of a black man in the White House, is a factor. Just take the polling done recently. A good portion of those who voted for Clinton over Obama said race was a factor for them. Put simply, “we don’t want no nigger prezdent.”

Of course the polling firms don’t word it so strongly, but it doesn’t take an Appalachian linguist to know what they’re saying out there in West Virginia. Some folks just don’t want a black president.

The Clinton campaign however is desperate. They need to make a compelling case that the party needs to scrap Obama and they need to do it fast. Instead of arguing that the policies of their camp are more sound or that Hillary has a better voting record in the Senate than Obama, they play up their appeal among white voters. Hillary Clinton has come out and said it. She told USA Today last week that she does better not only among whites, but less educated whites. In other words, she polls well among the people that are more prone to believe Obama prays five times a day facing Mecca, that he refuses to put his hand over his chest during the pledge and that he fundamentally hates America. Ironically, however, Sen. Clinton polls way better than Obama among those who she has the least in common with. That is of course unless Hillary really is a stuck-in-her-ways banjo-picking, dirt track redneck. Knowing her penchant for trying to be all things to all voters, it’s not that hard to believe she’s considered that route.


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Was it the columnist H.L. Mencken who said that a person would never know poverty by betting against the intellect of the average American? Well, regardless of who said it, one need look no further than the small city of Fairmont, Minnesota for an example of the collective idiocy sadly displayed here in America. It runs rampant particularly in those places known nostalgically as the “Heartland”.

I don’t want to upset the citizens of Fairmont. I suspect that they wont be bothered for two reasons: 1.) hardly anyone reads my blog 2.) I suspect based on listening to this story about the city’s reaction to the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace, many in in Fairmont don’t bother reading at all.

National Public Radio did a fabulous job covering the fallout of the city council’s unanimous approval of a resolution supporting the creation of a Department of Peace. Nearly two dozen cities across the nation have done so, including Detroit, Newark and Chicago, so the small community in southern Minnesota was hardly breaking ground when, spurred on members of the Fairmont Peace Club, the city council passed a resolution supporting HR 808.

Two weeks after the resolution passed, the hue and cry of residents forced three out of five councilors to conciliate and rescind their votes on the non-binding and symbolic resolution supporting a bill that will likely never reach the floor of the House.

But why the furor over something that seems to be quite logical. After all, as Peace club member Judi Poulson pointed out to NPR, in a world of conflict, “peace is strategy, just like war…it takes a lot of hard work and skillful people that have been trained.”

 Turns out Fairmont residents such as Gene Hackett see it another way.

“I grew up under a time when my generation was involved with peace,” Hackett said to NPR. “The things that they stood for with that peace symbol were wrong. It was bad.”

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