A few words about Barrack Obama’s “bitter” comment; he was right on the money, as was Bill Clinton back in 1991. That’s right, Bill Clinton, who tried to act as though he was on the side of rural Pennsylvanians but had really seen this coming 17 years ago. That’s right, the Bill we love to say everyone else hated because of his indiscretion. Will Bill is dirty, outright gritty and grimy when it comes to campaigning for his wife, and I’ve lost a lot of the respect I used to have. But regardless of whatever those presidential nominees have to say about it I can tell you a few things about being bitter in the Midwest.
Whether it’s Western Pennsylvania in the Pittsburgh metro area or as far west as Wisconsin it isn’t easy living in that part of the country. Do not get me wrong I was born and raised a Midwesterner, and will always be one but I refuse to live there. By the time I was old enough to know what was going on the jobs had already left; that was in the late eighties, the crown jewel of the rubber industry Akron was one of the first casualties in a series of mishaps where company after company, after company, after company, either left the Midwest for the South or was either bought up buy, or moved to, overseas somewhere. Truth be told it probably happened in Youngstown first, but it wasn’t long before most of the manufacturing jobs headed out of the area.
Some cities are still holding on, Dayton, OH has a nice information technology sector and cities like Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus had already begun to diversify a bit. Yet the smaller cities were unable to hold onto corporations that saw greener grass elsewhere. I don’t blame those companies, which is easy to say because I never made a career out of manufacturing, but I can see where people would blame our government, that was actively involved in helping those companies to leave. At the same time, there was no reason to make a career out of working in an automobile plant; again the jobs were leaving, a lot of people were being hired on in a somewhat temporary status anyway and the wages were nothing like what they used to be. Factories were closing down, not just in the small towns but in major cities like Detroit.
Chicago had already diversified itself decades prior and wasn’t impacted as much. But as is true in many places in America, without an education life isn’t that great, regardless of where you are living or what job you occupy. Chicago is a very expensive place to live; for what I pay now in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area I could get perhaps a third of the space I enjoy. It was never that easy up North, particularly in the Midwest where jobs are scarce even for those who are educated, so you do what you have to do, and you deal with it and take pride in the city you’re given.
So it gets under my skin when politicians that haven’t lived in those areas for decades and have been enjoying the fruits of Washington, where you can work your way up and at least make enough to get by if you’re focused (yeah I’ve thought about moving there a few times) or better yet Northern Virginia, have the gall to talk about how wrong Obama was for putting it out there, again, because it needs to be said. The manufacturing sector and the Midwest are some of the most ignored, overlooked, forgotten aspects of America in politics. When you’re living on either coast and life is okay you think you’re at the center of the universe anyway and forget that there are two thirds of America that you haven’t seen in a while. You get out of touch, which is normal; so you should expect to encounter some hostility when you go into the heartland and people are either broke or underemployed making $10 an hour, when they could make a lot more doing a lot less out where you’re at.
Those people haven’t even the funds to go back to school to retrain themselves, a car is a big deal, something that is an inalieable right where I’m at now. You mean “a car”, oh my god I’ve been riding the bus for 10 years now I don’t even know how to drive. The bus isn’t a viable form of transportation, it barely runs and the driver doesn’t even want to pick you up. You wait hours for it in smaller cities. So yeah, stop by in areas like Indiana and Pennsylvania that have seen some hard times for quite some time that have some really touch infrastructural issues; poor schools, a lack of basic city services at times, lousy jobs, congestion, pollution, high crime. Have they even stopped in those towns, or are they finding the nicer towns to campaign at, I don’t know because people have been angry for quite some time.
Obama is making his money to campaign the old fashioned way, didn’t have that much going in and isn’t taking from the federal government going forward; we’ll see if that plays out. It’s nothing compared to what the Clintons or McCain has had all along. In fact it should inspire someone, because technically Obama should have never been here, considering how little money he had going in, it just goes to show you what is possible in this campaign. Yet he is an elitist somehow, which is interesting.
The bottom line is that Obama is telling it exactly how it is and has been for some time and people simply do not want to hear it. Which is fine people never do, but when it comes to other politicians trivializing what has been taken for granted for so long it’s hard to maintain one’s composure, because you often wonder if it is anything they ever had to deal with themselves …