Elitist My Ass

It has been awhile since I’ve been back to my hometown near Detroit, Michigan. I took the kids there in early 2007; the cold and unemployment were a stark reminder of why I left.

The abandoned buildings. For Sale signs. The way the road goes from smooth to bumpy when you cross the state line. Boarded up windows, failed ‘revitalization’ efforts. Friends laid off. Friends looking for work. Friends moving to get work. Family leaving, family staying, family commuting to other states for part-time jobs and part-time pay.

Make no mistake, I LOVE my hometown. I LOVE the Midwest. I think anyone and everyone should live and work and grow in these cities and towns-but understand when I tell you that Senator Barack Obama is DEAD ON when he talks about the bitterness of residents.

Are you hearing me?

This former Midwest girl is telling you Obama is not being ‘elite’ or ‘out of touch’ –he could NOT be MORE in touch. He’s LISTENING and understanding that many of us who moved away and many of us that stayed are angry, frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned, and UNEMPLOYED.

In what world do Obama’s remarks constitute ‘looking down on’? I’m sorry, Senator Clinton-but are you HIGH? I am watching you right now, speaking in Indiana on CNN, and you are ‘somewhat taken aback’ by what Senator Obama said. Are you unaware that when life is as bad as it can possibly be, people turn to religion? Are you unaware that frustrated individuals tend to take up arms when they feel their very well being threatened by their surroundings?

Senator Clinton, let me be as clear as I possibly can here:

Barack Obama is giving voice to millions of us by speaking the TRUTH. He’s simply vocalizing exactly what I hear from my Uncle, from my High School friend, from my former teacher, from my now re-located parents. He is speaking about what he’s heard, what he’s been told, what he has seen.

Senator Obama’s remarks reminds me yet again that he is one of us. He GETS IT. He knows that I LEFT Detroit. I AM BITTER. I AM PISSED OFF. THERE ARE NO JOBS IN MY HOMETOWN. I couldn’t move my family back there if I WANTED TO.

When I do take trips back home it is depressing. My husband NEVER wants to visit because he can’t stand how dejected everyone is and how run down the whole place seems. Are there some amazing neighborhoods and jobs-of course. Is it horrible everywhere-of course not. Is it worse there than in many other places in the US-damn right.

Do you think I like living 3-thousand miles away from my family and friends? Do you think it’s fun for me to watch everyone I know get laid off, go into bankruptcy, lose their house, work two low paying jobs, move into their parents home? Do you think I am NOT bitter about any of this?

Spin it. Go ahead. Talk about how those remarks make him seem elite and condescending. It is so absurd that it only confirms for me that you and Senator McCain are COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH with what REAL Americans think and do and want.

I would suggest, however, that you take your rhetoric elsewhere. Because the more you yap about Obama being ‘elite’ -while he’s talking about how we really feel and you’re releasing 109 Million dollar tax returns- the more stupid you look.

Comments

  1. So well said…how do more people not realize this?

  2. booya. great post. right on, as usual.

    HRC is desperate. ugly as it is, this is a good sign. she’s clearly the one out of touch. she couldn’t resist taking the bait, and she looks like a sniper-dodging fool.

  3. This is why I heart you, baby!

  4. Are my parents, the low-income Pennsylvania farmers who barely get by, also “high” if they feel Obama is out of touch with their problems and issues?

    I don’t agree with the spin on his remarks, but isn’t there an element of most presidential candidates being out of touch with the real problems of real America?

  5. Queen of Spain says:

    PunditMom I’d love to know if your parents felt Obama was out of touch BEFORE these comments, of if it was these comments that made them believe as such. Guessing they were undecided as it is? Yes? No? Hoping to read a post by you on it-I think it’s a story worth telling.

  6. Well said. I think the reason Obama gets it is because of all the years he spent as a community organizer. You can’t work that closely with people with out it profoundly changing you. I know, I did my community organizing stint. Spent years working in low-income housing and homeless shelter. Been a welfare mother myself. I’m unemployed right now as a matter of fact. Just like I was during the Reagan years. Has Hillary ever worked, I mean Really Worked, up close and personal with people like me? No, she has not. All she talks about is the middle class. Well, I’m not middle class anymore. And she’s not listening to me. Obama is.

  7. Exactly. This is a huge part of the reason we left Iowa – and why we might never go back.

    I thought it was freaking BRILLIANT when he talked about how people respond to financial struggles. Like you said, it gave us a voice.

    Elitist my ass. Indeed.

  8. Jack Stand says:

    Small town PA is not quite the same as Detroit or LA you elitist ass. You are so gifted to know exactly how everyone feels and what they think.

  9. Queen of Spain says:

    I certainly know how *I* feel and how *I* think. Mr. no email link boy. Small town PA and burbs and big city don’t really matter when so many are unemployed. I’m not even sure location is an issue. Know lots of happy unemployed folk, do ya’? Some really thrilled to be out of work NOT bitter types? Good for you.

  10. Nicely said, Erin. I suppose I no longer expect the media to have any integrity, so I’m not sure why I wish they would stop hyping this non-story but I do. If HRC wants to obfuscate and “play politics,” then I’ll judge that for the sign of weakness it is. The media could nip this BS in the bud by just pointing out that it’s a hail-mary, 11th-hour attempt by the Clinton campaign to regain some folksy traction following the release of HRC’s decidedly un-regular folk tax returns. Instead, like irresponsible cretins they fan the flames of this tempest in a teacup and ignore what could be a real discussion about class politics in this country. ::sigh::

    Also, JackStand is a reductionist ass.

  11. Hey Erin, I am in rural PA and I can tell you I completely agree with you. Low pay here, I can’t even begin to tell you how many homes are for sale (and have been sitting that ways for a loooong time), people are unemployed and barely getting by.

    I have 4 kids and thankfully have a good job, but my husband is in construction and has been out of work for almost a year now. We are struggling. We both don’t have insurance and everyday I wonder what stressors will enter my life financially.

    I cannot wait until April 22 so that I can cast my vote for Obama in the PA primary. Both my husband and I were republicans but switched parties a few weeks ago. My husband was a Republican for 25 years for pete’s sake!

    Anyway, long winded comment, but I just wanted to completely agree w/you. Good post.

  12. Amen, she sighs as she fills out her Unemployment paperwork.

  13. *bows low*

    my liege.

    srs.

    I’m too drunk on kid slushie mixed with vodka (what. I was desperate) to truly respond well other than to note that the 11th hour comment re: Clinton tax returns and their most decidedly NOT being “of the people” (i.e., the unwashed masses) that is so telling about all of this nonsense.

    once again, Barack will foil them. just watch.

  14. Yes, Finally well said

    How can Clinton feel our pain! They have 109 million in their accounts! I am a single mother trying to finish school because I could not find a decent job to feed my son. There is no work, thanks to Nafta and Clintons. They made pretty good money from those deals.

    Obama for president!

  15. You’re right, what Obama said is dead on. Circumstances drive people to cling to that which makes them feel safe and the things that are close to the hearts of small town Americans are their right to bear arms and their religion. This is precisely what is happening in small town America (I live here, in Michigan, no less – no one knows it better than those who see it hit so close to home). What is going to come back to bite him in the ass is how he said it.

  16. Is this the best she can do? A comment about people being bitter. Elitist? This is a new low. A pathetic grasp at straws for a failing campaighn. Sen Clinton, I can honestly say that the respect I had for you and your husband is gone. Your “win at all cost” will not only cause you to loose this nomination, I hope you loose your Senate seat in 2010. Maybe after this process is over maybe you can “officially” volunteer as a McCain supporter. It seems to me and others that you would rather the Republicans have the White House if you were not the nominee.

    Thanks for nothing.
    Totally disappointed in “The Clintons”.

  17. Jonathan Trenn says:

    Methinks you’re missing the point. And the media hasn’t helped by concentrating on the concept of “bitterness” and not on “clinging to their guns and their religion”.

    It reinforces the idea that many blue collar and or rural people have (the ones considered to be Reagan Democrats – and there are lots of them in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania) that urban sophisticates look down on them because they, as law abiding citizens, want to own guns – and take pride in doing so.

    And cling to their religion? Please. Many of those people are naturally religious – they have a strong faith and one has to be very careful when one questions another’s faith. I mean, was Obama “clinging” to his faith by staying with Rev. Jeremiah Wright all those years?

    I like Obama, I find him inspirational. But he has to be more careful in how he comes off when he is describing the very people who are the swing voters.

  18. Queen of Spain says:

    NO, I get the point. Just don’t think it has merit. When people are down and out they go to church more. They always turn to God in a ‘heavier’ manner than when things are good. They arm themselves, they feel threatened. I don’t think this is NEWS,it’s just life. We all know this…at least I thought we did. Human nature

  19. Thanks Erin.

    As a lifelong Dem I am so fed up with HRC. Clueless, desparate, just so jonesin-for-the-White-House-needy. She could really give a rat’s ass about us as long as she gets into our White House.

    Obama is the best chance we’ve had in ages. I really think we need him more than he needs us.

  20. Thank you! My ass too!

    My husband grew up in Windsor Ontario (you guys were practically neighbors) and it’s the same picture over there – shops and offices closed up, houses for sale everywhere, massive unemployment. The biggest employers there were the car manufacturers that moved to, you guessed it, Mexico, and now the biggest employer is the casino. And let me tell you from my years of working as a gambling counselor in Australia, nothing says hopeless and bitter like spending your days watching what little you have left go down the slot machines. It’s the same all over.

  21. Erin-

    I went to see Senator Obama speak here in my hometown last week and he addressed many of the issues you speak about. I don’t think he is at all out of touch. He does really get us “plain folk”.

  22. amen, from a girl in southeast michigan who just had to move back in with her parents.

    don’t tell anyone.

  23. Amen!

    It is sad to me that Hillary has to resort to making these absurd claims about Barack because she is having her ass handed to her so far in the primaries.

    Love the line at the end about her tax return. Heh.

  24. (found your site thru a plug jill made on writes like she talks…..)

    Amen, Amen!

    i’m from small-town northern PA, not far from Buffalo & now live in urban NE Ohio (cleveland area). I know from economically depressed small towns, I know from depressed urban areas, and trust me, Obama gets it.

    I originally supported Edwards before he dropped out because Edwards got it. I wasn’t as certain about Obama, but now, more than ever, I am as certain about Obama getting it as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

  25. AMEN! I don’t know how anyone can honestly listen to what he said and call Obama elitist. I’ve never been so excited to find a candidate that really does seem to get the common people.

  26. I hate that his remarks were spun so horribly by the Clinton campaign, but I think he handled it well. I’m happy to see him really get mad about something — for the first time!

  27. Touched base with my small-town Pennsylvania farmer parents. They are quite ticked off at Obama’s comments describing them as clinging to their guns and religion. They feel he basically called them too stupid to make an assessment about why the country is in this horrible shape. They know exactly why they can barely scrape by at the grocery store these days — it’s Bush’s fault for letting the economy get this bad. But making my parents feel like they were insulted didn’t help his chances any with two semi-retired Pa. voters who are still trying to decide which Democrat to vote for.

  28. As someone who grew up working class, lower-middle class, whatever… I wasn’t at all insulted by what he said. I got it, and it’s true. Of course we are frustrated — we have a right to be. As far as clinging to guns and religion… well, some people do just that when they feel they have no voice.

  29. Amen, sister!
    The way this is being spun in the news, I just thought I was the only one who felt like this!

  30. Amen PunditMom! That’s exactly why I think the way he said what he said, not the actual message behind it, is what is going to prove most important in this instance. People like to be talked to, not about, and certainly not down to. The idea behind his message holds true, but he wasn’t successful in delivering it to the small town voters.

  31. As a Midwestern mother who lost her job in February, Barack Obama couldn’t be more right. He’s got it down…and Hillary is pissing me right the fuck off. And you know I don’t say “fuck” without good reason. Well, aside from when I visit your blog.

    The jobs in the Midwest are disappearing and the only candidate with answers that I trust is Barack.

  32. I live in Tuscarawas County, Ohio- which is small town/rural Midwest (Google is your friend, Jack). We have seen thousands of jobs move away, are watching our farmland and homes be auctioned off, and are desperately trying to put food in our pantries. The only candidates out of touch and elitist here are Clinton and McCain.

    Obama sees what’s going on in areas that were previously prosperous due to the manufacturing industry- which has left us high and dry. He isn’t just pandering and spouting off nonsense about his grandpappy taking him shooting when he was a little boy- he’s talking to the people who are affected right now.

    Clinton can shove it, as far as I’m concerned.

    (Please forgive me for being a little, um, passionate about this subject. My husband’s job may be on the chopping block and we’re desperately trying to hold on to our house.)

  33. I’m “smalltown” and I’m bitter as he!! about how politicians on both sides have sold out to special interests. The Republicans to corporate interests and sending jobs to China and the Democrats to the “somebody else take care of me and be responsible for me” crowd. Obama’s remark about the bitterness was accurate, but he did not need to associate the guns and religion part in a negative light. I like my guns and I love Jesus too, no matter how the economy is doing at the time. Those two things by themselves do NOT make me an ignorant hillbilly in need of help!

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