Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The man spoke his mind; he was forthright, forthcoming and forthwith. Do we condemn him for that? Yes. Apparently, candor is anathema to campaigning. If one hopes to lead this country, the last thing they should hope to do is tell the truth. The voter is a fragile and sentimental receptacle, easily damaged by criticism; an empty vessel hoping to be filled with glad tidings of a sunny prosperous future no matter how dark the clouds that loom on the horizon.

He said:

“You go into some of 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 to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Does anyone dispute that towns and cities across this country have lost their manufacturing jobs to low-wage workers overseas? Does anyone blame the people in these towns for anti-immigrant, or anti-trade sentiments when politicians have blamed immigrants for blue-collar job erosion, and over-sold the virtues of free trade for at least the last twenty-five years? Does anyone dispute that people have a right to be bitter when, as Senator Obama correctly points out, their elected representatives have consistently deceived them? Of course not. So that leaves the suggestion that these bitter, un-employed, and deceived constituents now cling to guns and religion for salvation. Does that statement somehow offend? What else is there for them to cling to? Right or wrong, guns have a deep-rooted association in this country with rugged individualism, and self-determination. Religion offers an unwavering moral compass, and the hope that those who take the trouble to be guided by that moral compass will be rewarded.

Many of us rightly question the wisdom of preserving the probably misconstrued Second Amendment -- we don’t need to carry guns anymore, and we don’t need local militias. Many would question the wisdom of a literal interpretation of the Bible. But there are those among us who do insist on preserving their broad interpretation of the Second Amendment, and do insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible. So why condemn a man for pointing it out? Is it because we are ashamed of these cadres in our midst, so disenfranchised, so disaffected that their dearest possessions might be a Bible clutched in one hand, and a rifle in the other? Are they so different from the disaffected and disenfranchised who founded this country?

I, for one, respect and appreciate Senator Obama’s honest efforts at genuine understanding and inclusion. I hope everyone will find within themselves the real patriot, and join the movement -- lapel pin, or not.

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