There has been much chatter about the main question surrounding the electability of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama, which, ostensibly, finds its locus in his ability to win over blue collar voters. Steel towns in Western Pennsylvania certainly qualify. Having frequently visited one such town I would like to share some observations that just might shock many o’ big city pundit.
While driving through some of the poorer sections of town I came across more than a couple of front-yard signs and bumper stickers announcing the intention of voting for Barack Obama. No such signs were displayed on Senator McCain’s behalf, neither in the poor section nor in the higher income neighborhoods. As one heads out toward the rural district, mainly farmlands, one is greeted by the same Republican silence. I scratched my head and pondered what this could mean.
At first, it occurred to me that those who intend to vote for McCain could not find a sign or a bumper sticker. Not likely. Perhaps they prefer to remain discreet about their intention. Certainly not likely, the Republican base in Western PA tends to be vocal to the point of deafening screech. My guess, then, would be that the inhabitants of the heartland haven’t convinced themselves that voting for Senator McCain is the right thing to do, no matter what their party affiliation.
Given that many of the towns in Western PA have been the biggest human contributors to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – they have paid relatively more in human sacrifice than most big cities – it appears that their doubt about a continued war in both countries, and the prospect of yet another war with Iran, is behind the vast reluctance to jump aboard the double-talking, waffling, flip-flopping and dementia-coated express that McCain has presented of late. As of this writing, Pennsylvania was tied for second place with New York and second only to California in the absolute number of fatalities ( in these two pointless wars. If we adjust the number of lives lost to the population of each state we may calculate a relative loss index which clearly shows that, of these three states, Pennsylvania has the largest loss: New York = 10.72, California = 13.66 and Pennsylvania = 16.63.
One might conjecture that the toll of this deceitful foreign policy has begun to make itself felt in even the more conservative burgs of this U.S.A. So, yes, even though many voters are frantic with the price of gasoline alongside that of so many other commodities which is oft times ignored by the general public (until it hits them in the pocketbook), the wars have not been forgotten.
This lack of conservative fervor is auspicious, for sure, and the fact that Bush/McCain have also managed to alienate a significant cluster of the Christian right does not help.
It is no simple task to speculate what all of this might signify come November, however, it seems quite evident that the conservative forces have taken a beating as a result of the current administration’s arrogant disregard, nay, disrespect for the well-being of the American populace, as well as for its constitutionally endowed rights. The phrase “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has been transformed into, “Death, slavery and the pursuit of Zoloft” at the hands of politicians who were not even elected. It would come as no surprise if an overwhelming majority of the 2008 voters is ready for a real change; the kind that can only be accomplished through a full transfusion of the viscous, contaminated blood currently pumping in the veins of Washington D.C.