Presidential Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama found himself in hot water last week over what he perceives to be “bitterness” in small-town America. The criticism came from Republicans, as well as his Democratic opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton. According to his opponents, Obama is both elitist and out of touch by saying that small-town voters “cling to religion and guns in bad economic times.” So is Obama all that much out of touch? Far from it. He’s right on the money.
Those who are really “out of touch” are the political insiders in both parties who cannot shake their Washington inside the Beltway mentality. In most instances, they haven’t a clue as to the many frustrations incurred by small town folks throughout this country.
If you want to witness these frustrations firsthand, drive up to Northeast Louisiana through my old hometown of Ferriday. Many commercial buildings stand along Main Street empty. The saving grace of this town, as is the case of many other small towns throughout the country, was the local Wal-Mart. It just shut down. Unemployment throughout this part of the state hovers around 30%. With so many people unemployed, a high percentage have no health insurance.
Economic conditions in Ferriday and Northeast Louisiana are mirrored throughout the country in numerous other rural communities. And to keep some semblance of hope, these folks find a few things to cling to. One is religion. Church attendance is significantly higher in rural areas, particularly in south. And for a whole litany of everyday problems, religion offers comfort, consolation, and hope.
How about clinging to your gun? Few families in rural America are without a gun, for both hunting and self protection. When I first began practicing law in Ferriday, I was amazed at the number of men, young and old alike, who would take off in the fall for a month or more just to go hunt. As one prospective juror told the judge at a jury trial but I participated in, “you need to let me off this jury judge. It’s hunting season, and that’s about all I live for.”
So I read Obama’s comments to mean that he perceives major economic problems throughout rural America. The economy is sluggish; oil prices are staying over $100 a barrel, health care coverage for many has become unaffordable, mortgage foreclosures have jumped dramatically, and unemployment rates continue to rise in large segments of rural America. When you’re without a job, and are, as the song says, “down and out”, it’s only natural to play to those precepts that give comfort and offer hope.
Too many in small town America, such precepts are guns and religion. So where is Obama off the track? The Beltway gang around both Clinton and McCain need to drop this dead horse. And maybe get out in the country a lot more.
You Are What You Eat,
At Least Politically
Well, the results are in. A new poll has examined Sunday they’ll be eating habits of Americans. And if you want to know someone’s political party persuasion, just check out how they eat. We’ve often been told of what we eat says a lot about who we are. Now we find out that what we eat also says something about how we are going to vote for. The process is called micro targeting, and the system uses consumer data to hone in on who eats or consumes what, and how they vote.
So here’s your test. Circle your choices, and then at the end, you will magically find out whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.
Dr. Pepper or Pepsi-Cola and Sprite?
Scotch or Gin?
Red wine or white wine?
Fiji water or Evian?
Chick-fil-A chicken or Popeye’s fried chicken?
Stuffed crust pizza or regular crust?
Chocolate chip cookies or Fig Newtons?
Raisin bran or Granola?
Made your choices? The here is how you stack up. The first choice means you are more likely to be a Republican. Dark whiskey, dark wines, and less spicy food profiles you in the GOP. Organic grown or more Whole Food-y, olive oil, and Ben and Jerry’s skews you more towards the Democratic camp.
So as the fall election season get closer, look for more marketing ideas to tie into the political season. Hey here’s a suggestion. If Obama gets the Democratic nomination, the Ben and Jerry’s guys, who are die hard democrats, should come up with a new flavor, Yes, Pecan!
“I won’t eat anything that has intelligent life, but I’d gladly eat a network executive or a politician.”
Marty Feldman (American actor)
Peace and Justice.
Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers and websites throughout the State of Louisiana. You can read Jim’s Blog, and take his weekly poll, plus read his columns going back to the fall of 2002 by going to his own website at http://www.jimbrownla.com.
Jim’s radio show on WRNO (995 fm) from New Orleans can be heard each Sunday, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm.