Monday, April 07, 2008

Politics in Pennsylvania

As the Pennsylvania Primary on April 22nd approaches, the PA media is full of updates about the race, the candidates, the issues, and the voters' opinions.

I read this article published in The New York Times on Friday, April 4, and at times I was almost at a loss for words by the comments. The article was about a small town in western Pennsylvania, Latrobe, home of Arnold Palmer, Mr. Rogers, and the banana split, where PA Senator Bob Casey announced his endorsement for Obama. The article, "In Ex-Steel City, Voters Deny Race Plays a Role," was about just that. This small, former steel town is 99% white, and many are not voting for Obama.

According to the article, "When dismissing Mr. Obama, voters in this former steel center, whatever their racial feelings, seem almost compelled to list their reasons, if only to preempt the unspoken race question." The townspeople feel the need to clarify the point that it's not because of race that they dislike Obama. They do so much clarifying, in fact, that one begins to wonder if race is in fact an issue. Here are some of the that people in this town won't be voting for Barack Obama:

-"How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin?"

-Except for his politics, he seems like a good thing for the country.

-"I don't say this because he's black, but the guy just seems arrogant to me, the way he expeccts things to go his way." Couldn't that just be confidence?

-Because he speaks very well, but has not talked about reviving the coal industry.

-Because he voted "present" too often as an Illinois state senator.

-Because he would not command respect of the military. Says who?

-Because there is something unsettling about his perfect calm. Ok, now they're digging for excuses.

-"I don't see Obama as a 'color,' but I do think he needs to get away from mimicking Dr. Martin Luther King. I'm not degrading Dr. King. I liked what he stood for, and it's a shame what happened to him. But Obabma needs to be his own person."

-"When I worked in the steel mill, there were always a few guys who were black. But you wouldn't even know they were black, we got along so well." Is that supposed to be a compliment, that they were more "well-behaved" than most blacks? Really?

-"It's not about race. It's about a feeling I have."

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