Skip to comments.Barack Obama to Rural Voters: I Canít Believe in You
Posted on 04/15/2008 12:09:05 PM PDT by vietvet67
Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned by Democrats from this weeks bitter brouhaha is that when you get advice about how to hook rural, white, blue-collar voters from a guy named Mudcat, youd best listen.
Dave Mudcat SaundersDemocratic strategist, bluegrass enthusiast, and general pied piper of the Bubba vote, as he calls ithad a little-noticed fight with liberal bloggers back in June 2007 that perfectly presaged this weeks controversy.
I have bitched and moaned for years about the lack of tolerance in the elitist wing of the Democratic Party, or what I refer to as the Metropolitan Opera Wing. These are the people who talk of tolerance but the only true tolerance they ever exhibit is for their own pseudo-intellectual arrogance, the then-Edwards adviser proclaimed in his typical profanity-peppered prose on Time magazines Swampland blog.
The liberal blogosphere, capital of the elitist wing, shot back in predictable, intractable style. MyDDs Chris Bowers called Mudcats post a work of paranoid genius while a Daily Kos blogger seemed unclear as to why the Democratic party should give respectful attention to rural voters (in any region of the country). In short, Saunders was roundly criticized for deigning to criticize the liberal activist support of the blogosphere in the name of rural, southern whites.
Nevermind the fact that those rural whites are the key to Democrats winning back the South, much of the Midwest, and the Great Plains states, and subsequently winning national elections again. Though his electoral record is spotty (see Bob Graham and John Edward), Mudcats call for respect of rural whites is nonetheless important, and has produced results.
When his message has met up with the right candidate who was willing to listen, there were glimmers of hope for the future of the Democratic Party. In 2001, he and other advisers managed to turn the voters of southwest Virginia back into Democrats, fielding Mark Warner, whose pedigree was as effete as John Kerrys. Mudcat helped the Connecticut native and Harvard-educated millionare cozy up to rural voters by serving up basic respect and a NASCAR sponsorship. The state of Virginia is now more purple than its been in quite some time.
Unfortunately for them, Democrats have chosen to follow the advice of another political acolyte with a somewhat less constructive approach. Thomas Frank, author of Whats the Matter of Kansas? gave voice to the feelings of another bitter political constituency in 2004: Those with Redefeat Bush bumper stickers on their cars and conspiracy theories in their hearts.
Those who woke up on Nov. 8, 2004 and thought, like the headline of a prominent British newspaper, How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB? needed an answer, and they found it in Franks bestseller. His thesis was that rural voters had been duped by Republicans into voting against their economic self-interests, and that if they could just be shown the error of their ways, theyd gladly become the big-government labor-loyal proletariat they should be. The fact that the Democratic ticket had looked and acted like a competitive line-up for Monty Pythons Upper-Class Twit of the Year contest had nothing to do with it, of course.
The fact that liberals chose Franks handbook for condescension over Mudcats more constructive message is telling. Its a proposal for a fundamental shift in American politicsfrom a center-right nation to a center-left onewithout any movement required on the part of the Democratic Party. Its a plan built on wooing rural voters by first questioning their sanity, motives, and moral fiber.
To many liberals, views as detestable as conservative ones cannot be explained by anything other than mental illness and ill will, false motives and false consciousness. The Blame America first crowd became the Blame the voter first crowd, and the relatively sanguine results of 2006 seemed to validate their theory. Its a political strategy without personal responsibility born of a political philosophy that eschews the same value, and it was always destined to fail.
Obamas comments about small-town America, delivered to a group of rich liberal donors in San Francisco, were the utterly unsurprising culmination of a electoral plan built on disrespecting the very voters needed for election.
This week, Hillary Clinton gave Obama the critique someone should have given the Democratic Party four years ago. When asked why Obama wasnt connecting with rural Pennsylvanian voters, Clinton explained instead of looking at himself, he blamed them.
The failure of the Democratic Party to take responsibility for its own electoral failures is perhaps a perfectly natural intellectual offshoot of a political philosophy that requires no one to take responsibility in their own lives, but it lies at the heart of Democrats problem with rural voters.
As a 2006 political science study of rural populations showed (and as anyone whos actually lived in a small town could tell you), the "individualistic ethic and legacy of self- employment and home-ownership inclines them to adopt the self-image of the independent entrepreneur and property owner rather than that of the laborer in need of state regulation and protection .. Republican emphasis on personal effort, limited government and free markets fits comfortably within this self-image" (James G. Gimpel and Kimberly A. Karnes, University of Maryland).
Liberals routinely assume small towns are unfailingly desperate places filled with helpless people largely because they can think of no other explanation for people living in them. They project their own values on those communities, mistake proximity to a sushi bar with quality of life, and assume these people must be waiting for someone to rescue them.
But the man who owns a mechanics shop or a contracting business with his wife and raises a family in a house of his own on a decent chunk of land is not looking for the government to rescue him from anything. He has troubles, but he is not helpless; he may lack a Ph.D., but he is not stupid, and the suggestion thereof is not appreciated.
Kansas itself is a perfect example. At the time Franks book was written, the state had enjoyed lower unemployment numbers than the rest of the country throughout the 90s and into the 21st century, and reported only 3 percent of its citizens living below the poverty line, as opposed to about 12 percent nationally.
Obamas messaging has been a smashing success thus far in his campaign, and even has the potential, on its face, to speak to rural whites in a way other Democratic messages have not. He often sounds more positive about the American dream than Edwards and less cynical about the future than Clinton, which could work well if rural whites actually believed what he said.
Im asking you to believe, reads the welcome message for his web site, Not just in my ability to make change in Washington Im asking you to believe in yours.
But this week he sent the same old Democratic message to rural voters, and theyre listening.
Barack Obama: He cant believe in you.
Mary Katharine Ham is the managing editor for Townhall.com.
As always, Mary Katharine Ham is absolutely brilliant.
Excellent analysis. I would just add one point: they're not just questioning sanity or motives, they're also questioning those folks' intelligence. The coastal elite perception is that anyone who is a conservative is either stupid or evil. No decent intelligent person could hold such views. And that's what led to Obama's little rant last week -- and it's also why so many of those elites have rushed to defend his remarks.
You can only pretend for so long.
I guess now he will show up at NASCAR just to looke like he cares. He will roll up his sleezes and eat a hot dog and figure that should shut up them up.
Mary Katherine Hamm is a cutie!
Speaking of twits, there was a video tape reportedly of what Obama said before the “cling” remarks. Highlight — he said words to the effect the “those Pennsylvania people might not want to listen to the news coming from a Black man.”
The twits broke out into chortling, self-praising laughter, very twittish. There was a gleam in Obama’s eye, and he had delivered that particular line or two in more of a black accent. It was good, I saw in his eye that he knew how to play his white liberal audience well...but then his own inner white liberal re-arose and he delivered the droning white pseudo-intellectual comments.
I saw this break later again, in his Annie Oakley speech. He droned on, but when he delivered some lines about Annie Oakley he used a comedic voice, which was good, but short lived.
They can't help themselves, because they can't face the truth. It's a beautiful thing. They're so deserving.
“I guess now he will show up at NASCAR .... “
He’s already tried bowling.
I know these columnists rely on hyperbole to make their case, but just out of curiosity, try Googling the name of any small town along with 'sushi' - you might be surprised (or not) by the number of results.
The plain fact is that in this day and age of mass media, franchise retail and accessible transportation, the only thing that distinguishes big cities from smaller towns are some nice public buildings and maybe, maybe, a homegrown network of (pseudo) intellectuals.
I think the point that many are missing about this whole 'elitism' thing is that any person who resides in SF, LA, NYC, etc either travels extensively to small/middle markets on business trips or visits back home to where they (or their significant other) came from. That means they most likely know firsthand about, and may believe in, the very same type of core values BHO was mocking.
The real issue is that BHO is a hard-core Marxist who really believes in socio-economic control. Forget the fact that he's into black liberation, etc - he's the most left-wing candidate the Dems have ever fielded for national office.
They're running in Mexico on Sunday. He'll fit right in.
Highlight he said words to the effect the those Pennsylvania people might not want to listen to the news coming from a Black man.
Is he callin’ me a ‘cracka’?
"Hussein Obamas big mouth, small brain, condescending, America-hating, grandkid-baby-terminating, born-alive-infant-abandoning, America-hating-wife, kooky-moonbat-America-hating-pastor, racially-divisive, race-baiting, crotch-saluting, America-flag-disrespecting ... chickens ... coming home to roost ...!"
For an inside look at the real Hussein Obama and his elite hate America backers at San Francisco where Hussein Obama made his elitist remarks,
Lots of interesting comments on the threads.
E.J. Dionne Jr...
“It has been sickening over the years to watch Republicans, who always rally to the aid of the country’s wealthiest citizens, successfully cast themselves as pork-rind-eating, NASCAR-watching, gun-toting populists. To have the current White House occupant (Yale, Harvard Business School, son of a president) run as a good old boy should have been the final straw.”
Note: Harvard Business School vs Harvard Law School
Give me someone who understands ‘entrepreneurship’ anyday!