Skip to comments.Small Town Conservatives: Bitter or Better?
Posted on 04/20/2008 5:30:24 AM PDT by Kaslin
If you happen to be a conservative in a small town, you might be chafing at Senator Barack Obama's recent comments at a fundraiser in San Francisco. Obama described small town blue-collar workers as "bitter", saying that they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." In plain English, Obama was saying that small town folk (among whom he apparently wasn't polling too well) are red-necked, xenophobic, gun-toting, Bible-pounding bigots who don't have a clue about how markets work in the real world.
Sadly, Mr. Obama's views are not uncommon among the elites who walk the corridors of power in the Federal City. These are the people who think Washington knows best. They think they are smarter than everybody else. They believe they can spend your money better than you can. And they know more about raising their children than you do.
Rural folk are seen as uninformed and unrefined. Their values are antiquated and their beliefs are passé. If one worries that they are going to be displaced in their job by someone who doesn't speak English and who will work for a cheaper wage, they must necessarily harbor some form of animus against those who are foreign-born. The idea that guns would be used for recreation is a foreign notion to the elites. Why on earth would you need them for protection, when big government exists to take care of you?
Senator Obama's comments are indicative of the lack of understanding many politicians have about the middle and lower classes. Democrats and Republicans alike speak of promoting the values and livelihood of the middle class, but few of the candidates seem to know what really drives these people's lives. Mayhill Fowler, a Huffington Post blogger who first leaked Obama's comments, argued that Obama's approach emphasized stereotypes instead of providing his wealthy audience with a window into the lives of blue collar workers.
Obama's remarks show the increasing distance between small town conservatives and those who control our government, media and major businesses. Obama says that the simple ideas of small town people are merely a result of their under-privileged economic status. As David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics explains, however, this misunderstanding of rural culture has undercut liberal efforts for decades. In reality, the middle and lower classes in middle America are not "clinging" to their beliefs because they're poor or struggling. Their beliefs are fundamental to how they live their lives, and until liberals begin to understand this, they will not attract middle-America voters.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have long appealed to the moral concerns of these middle-state voters prior to each election, but their failure to come through on their promises (because their real agenda seems to be to advance the interest of the moneyed elites) has undercut much of their previous support among the small town conservatives. These voters are truly conservative, believing in the importance of limited government, low spending, local control and public morality. Their understanding of faith, morality and liberty informs their daily lives and political beliefs. These ideas compose the core of small town conservative communitiesthey are not merely a result of lost jobs.
The view of the middle class presented by Obama is not new or unique to himit traces back to the prominent American progressives of the early 20th century. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men." Progressives have long thought that the fundamental factor determining cultural virtue was the economic stability of the American people.
Unfortunately, many Republicans have come to share this misunderstanding of rural conservatives. While they hold to different economic principles than Democrats (though increasingly less-so), Republicans today see culture in terms of dollars and cents. They believe culture will function smoothly and virtuously if everyone is allowed to participate freely in the market. While these economic principles are important, they still miss the true cultural foundation of America.
Wilhelm Röpke was a firm believer in the free market, but he also saw the vital importance of principles of morality in society. He said in A Humane Economy, "The free world will prevail only if it succeeds in filling the emptiness of the soul in its own manner and with its own values . What we need is to bethink ourselves quietly and soberly of truth, freedom, justice, human dignity and respect of human life and the ultimate values." Röpke understood that economic standing is not the basis of a sound culture. Ultimate values are far more important to the well-being and success of a nation than the condition of its markets.
Sadly, neither Mr. Obama nor the elites of the dominant political parties grasp these traditional conservative truths. Obama lumps together religion, xenophobia, the right to bear arms and prejudicethereby displaying his liberal view of culture. The political elites, on the other hand, ignore traditional small-town conservatives in favor of their big donors whose primary concern is their own personal economic gain. The real hope for America, however, lies in the deeply-held faith and moral principles of these "simple" small-town folks. That faith and those principles will enable them to remain steadfast in their ways despite the politicians and the media who treat them so dismissively.
Nobama is an asshat ... and so is anyone who would vote for him
It’s interesting (disingenuous) that Nobama paints rural whites as illiterate and uninformed, when in fact his black “community” constituents are so appallingly illiterate that most can’t function in today’s society. Thus, crime, social unrest and victimization are their calling cards, and their hate-based tribal behavior is being easily exploited by Nobama. What excruciating stupidity.
Every year for over 10 years now, we receive from our politicians a $50,000,000 "safety net" just to pay the basics of our county government, because we have no revenue from timber harvests anymore. They campaign on that!! It is so bad and getting worse, that our number one export now is our children.
We rural typical racist white folk may be dumber than a box of rocks but we are smarter than the likes of Jesse, Al, and the good Preacher Wright. Obama felt free to insult people like me, I would never vote for him in any case. I’ll stay here with my bitterness, clinging to my guns, praying that Obama or anyone like him is never elected President of this great nation.
What is keeping you there? There are smaller places, like ours, all over the country that have an agriculture,entrepreneurial and small business/manufacturing base. Contractors here are busy building home additions and doing remodeling. We have functioning hospitals/clinics. Unfortunately, we are attracting liberals fleeing the cities. Our climate in Wisconsin is probably harsher than Oregon’s, but we have grown over the past 34 years. Our schools are good. Conservatives would be welcomed.
I didn't get that Obama accused us of being illiterate. It's just that Obama has never so much as spent the night in a small town until he began to campaign for president. He is a complete alien to mainstream American culture. And he absolutely doesn't even know it.
..and he continues to hit the mark.
That's the story of Northern Virginia, where I grew up. (I'm graduating from college next year, so I'll be back there.)
The problem is that liberals flee the problems of big cities and blue states (problems that they themselves created) only to recreate their former cities and states where they now live.
I think that Obama does not know what he is talking about.
I grew up in California, where I had a large home, swimming pool, and spa, but I sold all of that to go to a home in the countryside, in another state. So am I different than I was before? No I am not. I still love God and my country, and being free. I feel that Obama does not love my country and the people in it, and I do not trust him at all. I look at Obama’s wicked friends, and I do conclude that he could be just like them.
socialism is the opiate of the masses. (but, only after it kills off a whole bunch of ‘em.)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.