OBAMA: So, it depends on where you are, but I think it's fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre...I think they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy.' That's...there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing.
Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter)...
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. 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. So it's not surprising then that 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.
In my uninformed opinion, these comments seem to be merely stating a truism: Economic insecurity breeds resentment and people tend to look for scapegoats. Or they express their anger and frustration in other ways. But Hilary Clinton has decided to use this opportunity to implement a Republican strategy of branding democrats as "elitist" and "out of touch" with regular folks:
I am the granddaughter of a factory worker. I grew up in the Midwest. Born in Chicago, raised outside of that great city. I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakeable faith America and its promise.
Now, like some of you may have been, I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small town America. Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and they are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know - not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York.
You know, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it¹s a matter of Constitutional rights. Americans who believe in God believe it is a matter of personal faith. Americans who believe in protecting good American jobs believe it is a matter of the American Dream.
When my dad grew up it was in a working class family in Scranton. I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith.
The people of faith I know don't "cling to" religion because they're bitter.
Ironically, Clinton uses this criticism to draw attention away from her own baggage regarding "free trade." In the last week it has been revealed that her chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, is currently reprsenting the nation of Columbia in lobbying for a new trade agreement with the United States - an agreement that Senator Clinton says she opposes. And of course her husband, former President Bill Clinton has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars speaking on behalf of a Colombia-based group promoting the same trade pact. It seems particularly convenient that Senator Obama's elitism came out during a discussion of how small towns have not enjoyed any of the so called economic prosperity created by either the Clinton or Bush II administrations.
Senator Clinton's hyocrisy aside, this is a well worn strategy that has been very effective over the last several election cycles. Democrats are "condescending know it alls," who think they are better than the average person, and want to use government to impose their socialist agenda on the rest of us. The further irony here is that the Clinton's themselves were often painted this way by the Republicans throughout the 1990's. But that aside, why does this rhetoric tend to work? Certainly, at their worst moments, Al Gore and John Kerry definitely came across as arrogant and elitist. But is that enough to explain the appeal of the Bush/Cheney junta? While the dems are effeminate, latte drinking snobs, the Republicans do not pretend to be on the side of the average person - this cynicism frees people to vote for the elitists who are honest enough to tell you they don't give a shit about your petty economic concerns. And of course, they will at least defend the 2nd amendment and the unborn.