Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:41 am

I like to think one of the reasons for the modest success I’ve enjoyed from this site is that my writing reflects many of the values, the thoughts, the dreams and hopes of Middle America. My heart is connected to the Heartland in ways I never understood until I returned from my life’s travels 15 years ago and settled in the Fox Valley in Northern Illinois. A distance of about 30 miles from where I grew up in suburban Chicago, it was a lifetime removed from Washington, D.C. and St. Louis where I spent my professional career. The pace and rhythm of life in Algonquin was slower, more deliberate, more conducive to reflection and introspection. I enjoyed it immensely and realized that here was where I was happiest, where I was most content.

Now, comfortably ensconced in Streator, IL, I am finding that the people and place are, if anything, more in tune with what is truly important in life; family, friends, God, and country. To a large degree this is a reflection of something that many in the political class either ignore or denigrate; that Americans are free to know exactly as much about politics and elections that they feel they must - no more, no less - and that this does not make them stupid, or unworthy, or sheep-like.

For Heartland voters, the big issues are subsumed and the election becomes quite personal. Who can I trust? Who do I like? Which candidate makes sense to me? And in these perilous times, perhaps the biggest question is which candidate can keep me and my family safe from the ravages of a dangerous world and unpredictable economy.

This back and forth about McCain’s fascism or Obama’s socialism is largely ignored in the Heartland. As is William Ayers and Obama’s strange and radical associates. As too McCain’s gaffes, Biden’s inanities, and Palin’s alleged unreadiness for office. The reams of paper and giga-bytes of bandwidth expended in promoting, defending, attacking, parrying, lying, smearing, and waxing poetic reaches the Heartland voter, if it ever does, as a confused jumble of noise. It is largely ignored.

Instead, voters out here depend on a well developed sense of being able to judge a candidate as a person - the famous formulation “Would you want to have a beer with this guy?” And surprisingly, a high standard of fairness is employed as part of that character judgement. Which candidate is playing by the rules? Which candidate is delivering low blows? Negative campaigning might “work” in the sense it pulls down the other guy. But it is done at a cost to the attacker.

All of the particulars of the race aside, my friends and neighbors are much too busy working, raising their families, volunteering at the local hospital or Salvation Army, and living simple, meaningful lives to embroil themselves in the issue of the day, the gaffe of the week, or the smears, lies, exaggerations, and deliberate obfuscations of the truth for which this campaign is known to those of us who follow it closely.

They might have a bare bones idea of Obama’s health insurance plan. The same for McCain’s education policy. But it comes to them as an echo from a far distant speaker. This disconnect from the “issues” of campaigns has driven liberals to distraction as they accuse Heartland voters of “not voting their interests.” Conservatives have lately - to their shame - been getting on Middle America for not caring about Obama’s anti-American and terrorist connections, accusing them of being deliberately unaware.

Both sides are laughably off base. Of course Heartland voters vote their interests. It’s just that their “interests” are not the same as liberals. And I have found a superficial knowledge of Ayers et al among my friends who, as they do with other attacks, tune out these matters as irrelevant to their vote. What they’ve heard of Obama - during the debates and some of his speeches - they like. But closing the deal with Middle America has proven to be a problem for Obama. Three days out from the election and I would say that Obama could win in a landslide - if Heartland voters could be sure of him.

It isn’t Ayers and Wright that appear to trouble my friends and neighbors. It’s that Obama is just not enough of a known quantity. But it appears to me that a majority of them - even some who claim to support McCain at this point - are willing to make a leap of faith and cast their vote for the Democrat.

Take my neighbors from across the street. Dana and Curt are about as typically Middle American as you can get. Married for 20+ years, two great kids, a dog, a comfortable house. Hardworking, God fearing, country loving Heartland voters living smack dab in the middle of Middle America. The campaigns have spent the equivalent of the Gross Domestic Product of some African countries trying to sway the Danas and Curts of America to vote for them.

How are they doing?

Three days before the election and Dana is leaning toward McCain but might vote for Obama. She is upset at what she sees as the unfair treatment of Palin. She hates being vilified for whatever her choice is going to be. And she wishes that no matter who is elected, that Americans support the new president.

I think that sums up perfectly where much of Middle America is at the moment. Not confusion, but uncertainty. Obama hasn’t yet closed the sale but the voters are unhappy with McCain as the alternative. And I sense the number of undecideds even at this late date to be larger - perhaps much larger - than is reflected in poll numbers.

I have gotten a lot of grief for my posts about the state of the race these last couple of weeks. I still believe that Obama will win rather comfortably - more than 320 EV’s and 5% popular vote victory.

But there is more than just a hope for McCain - more than perhaps I have vouchsafed his campaign these last weeks. If something happens these last 72 hours - if something is revealed or if Obama says something stupid - it could go south in a big way very, very quickly for the Democrat in the Heartland and the biggest surprise in the history of American politics might occur. Something similar could happen to McCain in that a 5 point margin could become a landslide of epic proportions for Obama. That might occur anyway if Obama’s support were to firm up - a distinct possibility.

I would give that scenario about a 30% chance while a McCain surprise comes in at less than 10% - diminishing the closer we get to the election. (Nate Silver gives the Obama blowout scenario a 38% chance of happening while a McCain victory of any kind tops out at almost 4%).

The election will be decided by Middle America. And I can’t think of any group to which I would prefer entrusting our country’s future.


  1. While I enjoy reading your reflective posts, I come away lately more with an “empty” feeling, rather than one filled with either hope or insight.

    For some time, your writing has been tracking more and more for an inevitable Obama win, holding hands with the MSM who has hitched their wagon to Obama’s rising star long before Obama was even determined to be the Democratic nominee! I find this kind of media-made, Obama-glow disingenuous and totally unhelpful to assisting an information-starved populace from making an informed decision.

    Even now, talking about Illinois neigbors, who are only “leaning” towards a certain candidate, at this late stage in the game, has me wondering about the stock these people really are made of! I come from a west coast state, where indecisiveness and wobbliness is an art form. People here are looking around more for political correctness in casting a vote than in what are the credentials of a given candidate. By this time, if a candidate has not revealed himself to you, then why should that earn them your vote? Shouldn’t it be a strike against them, and the inclination be to vote for the person who has answered most of the questions posed to him/her?

    Therefore, I would think good old solid American thinking would come to that conclusion fairly easily…or is middle America not as rock solid as it used to be?

    Comment by Jan — 11/1/2008 @ 11:33 am

  2. Ah yes, the hearty yeoman farmer rising like Cincinnatus the defense of the Republic when called. I grew up in the heartland also. Yes the virtues of honesty, perseverance, hard work. I also remember driving through Wichita and seeing the effects of government largess, the nice highway system and the subsidized farms. If Conservatives want smaller government these are the people who have to be convinced that the subsidies have to go, and that will be a rude awakening for many of them.

    Comment by grognard — 11/1/2008 @ 11:34 am

  3. grognard,
    I think it is the responsibilty of the Government to provide sound infrastructure - even conservatives agree with this. There fore i would not complain about the highway system as Government largesse or Big Government - in fact the US inter state highway system is probably the best in the world - coming from India, i can vouch for it :-)

    How ever your point on agricultural/farm subsidies is RIGHT on the money. Iowa is a case in point. McCain was honest (or should we say foolish) to come out against the incredibly bad corn based ethanol subsidies - and yeah, he just guaranteed himself a loss in Iowa.

    His anti farm subsidies stance has also cost him some votes in Colorado, Montana etc.

    Read this piece from the Idaho Statesman - http://www.idahostatesman.com/business/story/525568.html

    This is an interesting case in point - there are conservatives who complain about how the GOP has to return to it’s conservative ways and reign in wasteful spending etc

    McCain who is not conservative in many other issues has BEEN RIGHT ON when it comes to Government spending on agricultural/farm subsidies and tariffs related to these products. In fact the issue of agricultural farm subsidies was the straw that broke the camel’s back at the WTO talks this year.

    McCain has been conservative in his views and voting records when it comes to farm subsidies - and for that he will have nothing to show but only electoral defeat.

    Some thing that conservatives should think about, when they clamour for the GOP to be truly conservative. There are issues that affect people’s livelihood and these issues become more important than any political principle.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 11/1/2008 @ 12:27 pm

  4. and the wind is blowing hard these days… the election has been obama’s to lose, contrary to popular media horsesh&$ mccain is no longer the so called incumbent it is obama, the media have been saying he ‘is’ the next president for a very long time now, yet magically there is still 1 in seven according to the latest AP that could still be ‘persuaded’, persuaded by what? rick you alight to the same conclusion, there are still many, way too many undecideds out there for less than 72 hours left. obama has not sealed the deal nor has his compatriot the MSM. this is not hope or change or not accepting reality, it is reality, how could you possibly not know who you are going to vote for? how? they have not said anything ‘new’ for two weeks. i am not politically savvy like you rick, but the incumbent is now obama, and anyone should be able to beat the republican candidate after bush… anyone to include snowball, it should be a runaway train by now, and it isn’t… tricky tuesday is coming…

    Lots of folks might be staring at that ballot for a long time on Tue trying to decide. We who follow this crap everyday forget that most people get only snippets of news and commentary - they tune out the rest. They like Obama but just aren’t sure hence, McCain still has a shot - a small one but not impossible as I was thinking a few days ago.


    Comment by jambrowski — 11/1/2008 @ 12:40 pm

  5. The first thing which popped into my head when I started reading this piece was the endless angst-ridden bleating coming from faux progressives about how conservatives “vote against their own interests.” And then there it was in the 7th paragraph. :)

    Quizzically, these are the same people who would tell you with a straight face it is conservatives who have a big problem with authoritarianism.

    Comment by Chip — 11/1/2008 @ 1:06 pm

  6. #4

    The polls also reflect a certain “politically correct” coefficient, where the respondent states publicly they’ll be able to support Obama, but will cast a vote for McCain once in the privacy of the voting booth.

    I’m not sure that that will be the case. Pollsters are pretty clever at finding out how a respondent thinks. In fact, they usually ask the “who do you support question” twice - once at the beginning and once at the end of the interview. In between they throw in a few loaded questions that reveal the true feelings of the voter with regards to each candidate.

    Campaign pollsters are experts at this - truly magical at gleaning the voters deepest feelings about a candidate. Pollsters like Gallup and Rasmussen don’t ask 1/2 the questions that the campaigns will ask during hte course of an interview. This is why the race is probably seen as a little tighter - 2-3 points - among the internal campaign polls as they are for the rest.


    Comment by Chip — 11/1/2008 @ 1:14 pm

  7. Obama’s sitting at 50% or better in pretty much every poll. And every poll aggregator has him at 311. That’s not good for your boy. Not impossible. But then again, it’s not impossible that I’d lose 30 pounds, run a marathon and have an affair with Angelina Jolie.

    No. I think there is a better than 10% chance you would have an affair with Angelina Jolie. In that sense, you beat McCain.


    Comment by michael reynolds — 11/1/2008 @ 1:32 pm

  8. Besides, I’m sick of Middle America. Whatever happened to Top America and Slightly Off-Center America?

    I’m so punchy from reading polls. This has got to end now. I no longer care who wins, just make it end.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 11/1/2008 @ 1:35 pm

  9. Much of what Obama says is inspiring even to a conservative like me. People should be looking at what he has done, how he has voted and what he says outside of infomercials and stump speeches.
    The biggest issue is Obama’s long term impact on this country if elected. He could appoint 3 Supreme Court Justices and dozens of Federal Judges with life long appointments. Here is what he has said, ” If we can find people who have life experience and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that’s the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court” or how about this “Anyone of us here could think about a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.” He could appoint Ayers, Wright and Wrangel. He could give the ACLU and ACORN access to writing our laws.
    Is middle America that obtuse as to not look at the facts in making up their minds. Dana and Curt this election is not about beer drinking. It is about the land of the ACLU and the home of ACORN.

    Comment by Fred — 11/1/2008 @ 1:36 pm

  10. Rick,

    Obama is not going to win! I live in Buffalo NY, a blue collar union town. In many strongly Democratic neighborhoods like Tonawanda and N. Tonawanda there isn’t an Obama sign anywhere to be found. (These neighborhoods had a lot of Kerry signs in ‘04.)Most of the people I talk to who voted for Kerry and Gore are supporting McCain. I think McCain is going to stun you and win 53-54% of the popular vote.

    Comment by Frank S. — 11/1/2008 @ 2:37 pm

  11. It is the fringes and idealogs that are voting, the passionate ‘base’ of each party contributes 10 to 15% of the total population apiece, thus 20 to 30% of the overall vote. Last election saw a near 58% turnout… or 28-38% of those not closely aligned with one party or the other on an ideological basis. That leaves 42% not voting: these are the people that modern politics does not address. And if 2004 was a local high in the trend that has been going on since 1968, then this election will hover in the 52-54% overall turnout rate and possibly lower if the trend is a motivator in society.

    These are not ’sheeple’ nor people who are letting ’smarter people decide for them’: they want nothing to do with modern politics in a very active way. The more shrill, the more ‘pure’ each side tries to get, the more people don’t vote. We have had, at best, a plurality agreement government since 1960. And when politics gets down to party support without any other thing attached to it… and who has actually paid any attention to ANY party platform for the last 20 years or so? Anyone? Neither ’side’ tries to enforce theirs, so their parties become full of inidividuals that are self-serving… then what is the choice done by? Personality? And the number of people you can actually convince to do this thing known as ‘vote’ based on that? Shrinking. We get a rare blip upwards, but the trend for decades has been down, and Congress has been pure minority for a far longer time because of this.

    Barack Obama’s appeal to the non-voter has been pitiful: he has nothing to offer them.

    John McCain hasn’t even *tried*, which shows something… I have no idea what, as it could range from mere pragmatism to outright cynicism.

    Representative democracy must have a popular mandate to survive - that is what makes it such a good system. And it is a damned messy system by design, also, because decisions must seek popular mandate to not offend the majority of the population and cause domestic turmoil. The parties have decided to follow their self-serving interests to their own ends, and that will lead to change, yes indeed. For the worse. Then you hope to survive what comes after. Be careful when you ask for ‘Hope & Change’: you may get it.

    Comment by ajacksonian — 11/1/2008 @ 2:40 pm

  12. “Much of what Obama says is inspiring even to a conservative like me. People should be looking at what he has done, how he has voted and what he says outside of infomercials and stump speeches.”

    While the first time it sounded okay for him to throw thse ‘conservative’ talking bones, now I find obama’s attempts to pander to the middle repulsive at this point, because I know how fundamentally dishonest and manufactured it all is. They are empty talking points, but the real left ideology of ’share the wealth’ and ‘bitter clinging’ shines through; at heart, he’s a leftwing activist who pals with extremists and radicals - those are his roots. The rest is campaign shinola from Axelrod Productions.
    The Obama campaign is massive bamboozling operation, and his real record of left-liberalism (ratings like Americans for Tax Reform 0% and NEA 100%, NARAL 100%, prolife 0% ratings), support for the worst kinds of judges, the worst kind of immigration policies, tax policies that in the past 12 months he was for increased payroll, income and cap gains taxes, etc.

    My mind boggles at the stupidity of middle-of-the-road and conservative voters to suspend basic common-sense faculties by ignoring his real voting record, his extremist and corrupt associations and activities, and his far-left promises made not long ago in campaigns. They are falling for the oldest trick in the book, enabled by a very biased media and a huge campaign bamboozling operation. Obama is the least experienced and most left-wing presidential candidate ever.

    not looking forward to living in a George Orwell or Ayn Rand novel in the upcoming years of this Republic. Just hoping people wake up by Tuesday and decide to “Stop Obama’s Socialism.”

    Comment by Travis Monitor — 11/1/2008 @ 5:07 pm

  13. I think everyone is ready for this thing to be over with. I just don’t know if anyone is really ready for what comes next. Dana’s heartfelt wish that we all support whoever wins and that we stop vilifying people for their free choice either way, is one I can fervently get behind.

    I don’t think that’s a “middle American” virtue alone though. . . unless you call vast swaths of the coastal regions “middle America.” Does anyone truly believe that a majority of the American people want their President to fail even if he is of the opposition party? That’s demagoguery. Yes, a vocal minority may feel and act that way but that in no way represents a majority of either party. Just as the partisans on the right, who strove to obstruct Clinton at every step, do not represent average Republican voters, neither do the zealots who immediately declared war on Bush in 2000 represent the vast majority of Democrats.

    we all need our President to succeed because we all need our country to succeed. To paraphrase McCain himself, “I’d rather lose an ideological battle than lose the country.”

    Let’s hope for a clear result that leaves the conspiracy theorists with no grist for the mills and let’s all support the next president in that general sense. Both partisans and the loyal opposition have only to gain if our next president is successful.

    “Does anyone truly believe that a majority of the American people want their President to fail even if he is of the opposition party?”

    Are you serious? Where have you been the last 8 years? Not a majority of Americans but definitely a majority of the Democratic party has fervently wished that Bush fail. They have cheered every downturn in the economy. They have prematurely announced that the Iraq War is “lost” and openly rooted for the surge to fail. They gleefully pounced on the confusion following a natural disaster and screamed about the federal response to Katrina before the hurricane winds had even died down.

    They have sought to delegitimize his presidency from day one by claiming it was “stolen” - and then did the exact same thing 4 years later despite Bush winning by 3 million votes.

    I have urged my conservative friends not to play this same kind of game if Obama is elected. Will Democrats do the same if McCain pulls off the miracle?


    Comment by emgersh — 11/1/2008 @ 5:11 pm

  14. Odd, how your last two posts are so completely different. Yesterday you tell the voters that they have no excuse not to know every dire prediction about Obama’s policies. Today you say that voters in the Heartland have the right to be ignorant of the issues, that they’ll rightfully decide who they rather want to have a beer with in stead.

    Basically, just trying for anything that might convince people NOT to vote Obama?

    I used to really like McCain. I still think he would be a much better president than his current platform would make one believe. He was against Bush’s tax cuts because he thought they favored the rich. I’m sure he’ld reach across party lines to increase taxes in general and to make them more progressive. He’ld be relatively easily coopted into the Democratic Congress, dragging along a sizeable part of the Republican party. I’m pretty sure that the US would move structurally much further left under McCain than under Obama, as it would officially all be “bi-partisan”, and thereby an easier sell.

    You reeeeeeally had to stretch to find that one, didn’t ya? Especially since I said no such thing about voters having a “right” to be ignorant. You just put that in there because you’re an elitist snob.

    And yeah, right. You used to really like McCain - like anyone believes that. Your class warfare arguments are a dead giveway just how much you “like” anyone with an “R” after their name.

    And you’re being serious when you question why I wouldn’t try to convince people not to vote for Obama using every argument, every reason I can come up with? Is this now to be illegal in Obama’s America?


    Comment by endorendil — 11/1/2008 @ 5:21 pm

  15. I think you are gravely wrong if you think Obama’s associations do not count or are not being considered my Middle America. To say so is basically calling them stupid. Most Middle America’s I know would not want to sit down and have a beer with a guy who has surrounded himself with people who loathe America.

    Comment by JTK — 11/1/2008 @ 7:18 pm

  16. “Does anyone truly believe that a majority of the American people want their President to fail even if he is of the opposition party?”
    emgersh, read up on how Clinton was treated by the right to get an idea of how Obama will fare. When it comes to venom the right and left are carbon copies of each other.

    Comment by grognard — 11/1/2008 @ 9:43 pm

  17. It sounds like your middle America doesn’t care to get themselves educated about the candidates. They don’t care about Rev. Wright, T. Rezko, Fannie & Freddie, and a host of other things that go against the character of Obama. When the truth finally hit’s them between the eyes it will be too late. They will have forfeited their right to complain about their government since it took too much time to get involved in the process. When the price of gas explodes next year and they can’t afford to fill up their tanks, I don’t won’t to hear any complaints. The Democrats have been up front about their plans to no let any new drilling take place in US. Just remember “You have been warned”.

    Comment by Robert Camp — 11/1/2008 @ 11:03 pm

  18. With all due respect, the way you describe your neighbors make them sound like brain dead idiots. They don’t care about what Obama’s entire biography/history–including who his friends/mentors have been? They take him at his word–or should I say, latest word? They can’t make up their mind who to vote for? Do they have NO idea how different these candidates are? Do they have NO idea how different this country would be, depending on which one gets to be CIC and appoint justices to all levels of courts?

    Reading this post makes me more afraid for the future of this country than ever. Are people really dim?

    I’ve always tried to be respectful and open minded; to give the benefit of the doubt to the underpinnings of opinions of all those unlike myself (east coast Ivy educated, urban via suburban childhood). If your neighbors are typical, there ARE no underpinnings.

    How depressing!

    Comment by Nik Mendota — 11/1/2008 @ 11:32 pm

  19. Frank,
    I hope you are right ! I lived in Buffalo for 2 years, attended UB, graduated in 2002 - i do know one thing - people in Buffalo can spot a phony when they see one - Obama is definitely one of these chameleons that blue collar folks in Buffalo will easily spot.

    However NYC will predominantly vote for the jackass, so it does not matter which way Buffalo goes. But i think McCain is going down, no matter what.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 11/2/2008 @ 1:00 am

  20. If on Tuesday the result is a Democratic blow out and Democrats end up with the presidency, as well as large majorities in both houses of congress it will occur because of, among other reasons, Republican political leaders between 2000 and 2008 collectively stumbled over this truth:

    “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

    Comment by Agent Orange Peel — 11/2/2008 @ 1:34 am

  21. If Obama wins, it will probably take a year or two for the magnitude of the catastrophe to sink in.

    But, I profoundly hope that the Republicans and the right generally give Obama exactly the same level of cooperation that the Democrats and the left have given George W. Bush - not one scintilla.

    Make the Democrats pass their socialist and pacifist agenda without a single Republican vote. Tell the world why. Then when it all falls apart, remind people that it’s been the Democrats without a single Republican vote that have destroyed America.

    Phil Gramm said when HillaryCare was proposed that if it passed, within a decade we would be hunting Democrats with dogs. If Obama’s socialist and pacifist agenda passes and things fall apart, as they will, Gramm may still be proven right. Unless of course (as is likely) Obama’s thugs confiscate our guns and stifle dissent with force.

    Comment by CatoRenasci — 11/2/2008 @ 8:49 am

  22. Rick, your last two posts - if you read between the lines - say it all.

    I’m usually comfortable with ‘Middle America making the choice for President’ based on their gut level responses, with very little actual time spent THINKING about the issues.

    However, my sister is a classic Middle America voter. She aadmits she knows next to nothing about Obama. However, she can list about twenty things she knows about Palin - some of them wrong. This is due to the influence of what the media is reporting.

    And that’s my problem. The gut-level instinct is no such thing. It is shaped by the media in the same manner the beach is shaped by an endless series of small, unnoticed waves washing against the shore. It’s a background 24/7 endless beat.

    If Obama wins, the important indicator to me will be six months to a year into his Administration with a Democrat majority across Congress. If the American people end up in general thinking “Who in the hell IS this guy? He sure isn’t the guy I thought I was voting for!”, then my concern will have been proven to be justified. If the general American public indicate they’ve gotten who they thought they were voting for, then you’ll be right.

    Comment by Michael Devereaux — 11/2/2008 @ 9:00 am

  23. I’m just a little fish, but one thing I know for sure — you’re not going to reverse the tide of Leftism and bring the Great Middle over to your side by calling them morons. Start right there. Baby steps.

    Amen brother. Sing it. Liberals do the exact same thing all the time.

    Who are we to tell someone else what criteria to base their vote on? It smacks of elitism in its purest form - “I know what’s best for you so shut up and vote as I tell you.”

    The whole point of the post was trying to show that freedom and our constitutional protections allow each American citizen to pay as much attention to politics and the issues as they feel they must. It isn’t life and death - no one is going to be thrown into prison for voting the wrong way. People take their vote very seriously for the most part and they have their own ways of determining which candidate they, and they alone, prefer. To denigrate their thought processes is the heighth of idiocy in my book and makes one out to be a snob.

    If they make the wrong choice? Guess what - they learn from their mistakes just like we all do. And even though I think an Obama presidency would be bad for America if my friends and neighbors think otherwise and vote for him, that choice must be respected as being the best decision they can make consistent with their own thought processes and beliefs.


    Comment by John E. Howard — 11/2/2008 @ 9:47 am

  24. Rick, I live in “middle” America. A town of 4,000, not professionals, but those who work for Southern Pacific Railroad, the telephone company and the Lower Colorado River Authority, all “middle” America jobs. Even our bankers are of the income group considered “middle” America. And if there is one trait you can attribute to “middle” Americans, it is that you are judged by the company you keep. It is pounded into the head of every child I know. So I think, while you may judge your opinion of “middle” America on one couple, or one small locale, I don’t think it is reflective of “middle” America as a whole.

    You see, as a voting bloc, Illinois is left leaning. Most Illinoisans, not located in the major cities like Chicago, are still center left or even, in some cases, very left of center. That doesn’t stop them from being hard working, buzy people who still want government to work for them, it simply means that they tend to be more liberal than those who are in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri or Nebraska. I know. I grew up in St. Louis, south side, and saw how the left of center attitude destroyed a once great city of 800,000 to a crime ridden, corrupt city of 350,000. And I can promise you, my family, who were raised to think that FDR could walk on water and Harry Truman and JFK were the “second coming” are not voting for Senator Obama.

    People do care who Obama’s friends and associates were. They do care that he has been involved, in one way or another, with people they would not speak to on the street. I live in a “blue” town, every office here being held by a Democrat. And the signs are all over the place; Democratic signs for judges, city council, sheriff, state representatives. But one is missing; the Obama/Biden sign. And it is not unusual to see a sign that says “Remember Peace and Prosperity, Vote Democratic” with a McCain/Palin sign next to it in the same yard.

    Americans are informed. And they judge a candidate by the same values they place on their neighbors, friends and acquaintences.

    So while you may think that Obama will blow it out of the water, I am not so sure. I also think you discount all the disillusioned Hillary voters who feel the nomination was taken from their candidate by Howard Dean, Donna Brazille and the DNC rules committee.

    All politics, when it boils right down to it, are local. People vote their wallets and those, who are looking a a prosperous income in their future do not want to be saddled with higher taxes when they do reach that goal. They want to know that their income will not be taken to force charitable giving to someone else who didn’t work, and sacrifice, for that income.

    We may well see an Obama administration. But unfortunately, it is a prescription for disappointment as there is absolutely no way he can keep all the promises he has made. And the Democrats, the “middle” Americans I talk to, are smart enough to know that.

    Comment by retire05 — 11/2/2008 @ 1:11 pm

  25. Since we’re telling stories, I’ll tell a few anecdotes from a left-of-Republican perspective. (My immediate circle tends Democratic or Libertarian. The following are outside the circle.)

    Case (1) Older lady (90ish) in the local garden club (New York State), who I discussed politics with for an hour. Lifelong Republican. She was tending towards voting for Obama (a few weeks ago). The primary issues were (a) McCain’s age and medical history (b) McCain’s choice of Palin. She thought McCain was showing his age and didn’t seem sharp enough to be president, and was worried that Palin might become president. She thinks Obama is smart and reasonably careful and conservative (small c) in his outlook.

    Case (2) Pennsylvania family. Lower middle class, some working two jobs. Reasonably well-informed. 3 claimed to be voting for Obama, one for McCain. Worried mainly about the economy and wanting some change from the last 8 years. The McCain voter in the group thinks McCain will be better for the economy, and the others think Obama will be better and that McCain will continue Bush policies.

    Case (3) Aunt in her 90s in Virginia. Lifelong Republican family active in the local party org, and I believe she’s a lifelong Republican as well. She is (a) worried about McCain’s age and health and (b) does not think Palin is qualified (except in the constitutional sense) to be president. Believes that it is good that Obama will be willing to talk with our enemies.

    The takeaway is that for these people, the usual left/right talking points didn’t resonate much. They were looking at character and competence and behavioral style, and trusted their own observations of debates and other unscripted appearances more than other stories from the media.

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 11/2/2008 @ 3:12 pm

  26. It sounds like your middle America doesn’t care to get themselves educated about the candidates. They don’t care about Rev. Wright, T. Rezko, Fannie & Freddie, and a host of other things that go against the character of Obama.
    Robert, the dirt is out there on McCain. Some of it is even true. For whatever reason, the Obama campaign didn’t go for mud slinging, the media hasn’t ridden with these stories, and the left is simply lousy at the whole forwarding of unsourced negative chain-email approach.
    (Just recently my wife got a copy of the almost-entirely-made-up “Obama’s tax policy” email that has been circulating since at least June 2008, the one that starts with “INTERESTING DATA JUST RECEIVED ON TAXES”. It bears only a passing resemblance to McCain’s own stated tax policies, and very little resemblance at all, particularly in the made-up details, with Obama’s stated policies. Anyone who felt moved could do debunking in 30 minutes using the candidates’ web sites as primary source material.)

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 11/2/2008 @ 3:27 pm

  27. Rick - I grew up in Naperville. I drive north - straight up 39/51 to Wisconsin every summer and fall. The Midwest tugs at my heart. I tell everyone who wants to know what I think to read your blog…I couldn’t say things any better…

    Comment by Jane — 11/2/2008 @ 5:39 pm

  28. Pretty smart Post, Rick.

    There’s another big reason why no one buys all the crap the right-wing have pushed on B.O: no matter how hard you try, he doesn’t conform to the stereotypes you push on him of his “associates”.

    If the guy who once went to a party that W. Ayers was at had been, say, a member of the American Communist party until 2007 - if his Senate record had included any genuine radically lefist ideas - if he hadn’t left a trail a mile wide at, for example, the U. Chicago full of outspoken character witnesses, Republicans included, to his moderate temperament, comfort with free-market economics, etc, etc - you’d be having more luck.

    The picture you’re pushing isn’t working because people see so much of the enormous picture that contrasts it. His platform is very small-c conservative. Shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan is nothing like Dennis Kucinich’s plan. Repealing Bush cuts for the top 5% has been Dem. consensus since at least 2004. Cap and trade was first proposed by John McCain. Etc. etc.

    All you’ve been able to come up with are, no matter how many times you yell and scream to the contrary, marginal records of barely incidental contacts from 15 years ago. Given how late a start you got on painting your insane picture of him as some kind of Marxist and how much contrasting picture there is, it can’t take root. But it could have taken root if we’d nominated Dennis Kucinich. You’re just trying to shove a square peg in a round hole, and it only works on people who already hate Democrats; i.e. not the swing voters; i.e. not the people in your examples.

    In other words, I agree with you.

    Comment by glasnost — 11/2/2008 @ 11:18 pm

  29. The Obama campaign has successfully obfuscated the tax issue to the point that many voters think there is this big tax cut coming.

    I guess.

    The biggest problem I have with the plan is, why does it have to be so complicated? For decades all money collected by the three federal income taxes (the income tax and the two flat taxes: FICA and Medicare) have all been thrown into a giant slush fund. There is rhetorical talk about the Social Security/Medicare surplus, but that surplus is meaningless since any surplus in these taxes has been spent since they were created.

    I am all for lowering taxes on the working poor. It is sad that we punish the working poor with a flat tax around 8% (FICA and Medicare) and then further discourage employers from continued hiring by kicking them for that same flat amount.

    Why not just lower those tax rates? Why not lower them and increase the income cap on Social Security? Sure, we could argue the program was meant to be one where we tax those who derive benefit from it. However, let’s be pragmatic. For decades, Social Security has been considered a responsibility and as long as you don’t make too much money (or trigger the Windfall Elimination provision), you are entitled to this pension at age 62+.

    So if it’s simply a shared social responsibility, why not start lowering those rates to help the working poor, increase the cap to get the richer folks to pay their part of the responsibility, and maybe consider graduating the tax scale?

    In fact, why not just consolidate the rates into one federal income tax rate. It sure would be more transparent, and I thought transparency in government is important?

    But the Obama plan is about obfuscation. If we make it complicated enough, there might be many people who actually get a refund back that is larger than their income tax (often zero), FICA and Medicare tax combined. Then it’s no longer a tax cut but simply welfare. And that’s where it becomes immoral. The welfare department should be separate from the revenue department. You might call it shuffling the deck chairs, but it certainly prevents a double dip into an already sinking Treasury.

    Why so complicated? What would be wrong with just lowering the Social Security and/or Medicare tax rate for now? Why not drop the income cap and lower the rates to keep that balance revenue neutral? If we have a “surplus” then why don’t we let the people keep that surplus and raise the rate as we need it? It’s not like the money is being saved anyways.

    Is it so the Democrats now have permanent campaign issues? “I’ll double the credits Obama started,” will be the new campaign pledge, until some working poor aren’t just getting $100 or $1000 dollar refund over their FICA and Medicare, but $2,000. Then $5,000. It’s the new “Social Security” for the 21st century, and of course, it’s unsustainable. But once it’s in there, you can’t ever get it out.

    That would make too much sense. And look, the GOP is not saintly. They are too stupid to propose such common sense reforms because they are scared about the inevitable attacks that they just want to privatize or end Social Security. They are too stupid to try and simplify the tax code. The party is too fragmented to even stand for limited government and strong defense.

    Why make it so complicated, Senator Obama, when there is such a simple, transparent solution? Is it that this plan might actually lower taxes for the working poor but not past the point of paying no taxes at all?

    Well meaning Middle Americans are hearing the broad and incorrect term “tax cut” and thinking: “Well, that doesn’t sound like a Democrat. This Obama guy must really be a moderate.” And being a moderate, for some reason, is the holy grail of American politics. The media will uphold you as “bipartisan” and someone “trying to get things done”.

    Things seem to go so much more smoothly when Congress can’t get anything done to screw up our lives any further.

    Comment by CGomez — 11/3/2008 @ 10:00 am

  30. I’d have to largely agree with retire05’s characterization of the Illinois political landscape. Overall, Illinois has a whole lot more in common with New York and California in terms of politics than it does with its “middle American” neighbors of Indiana and Iowa (much less places like Nebraska). I live in DuPage County (not far south from Rick’s hometown of Algonquin), which during the Reagan era was called “the most Republican county in the nation”, but is now ground zero for several toss-up Congressional races (all of which involve long-time Republican seats being either challenged or overtaken by Democrats). Even as a long-time Republican, I have a “love-hate” relationship with the Chicago area being characterized as middle America simply because of its geographic location - I believe that there’s a certain personal openness here that can often be lacking on the coasts, but I cannot stand the implications that this area is sometimes lumped in with what I consider to be negative Midwestern stereotypes of being unsophisticated, uneducated, not worldly, etc. “Middle America” is not a monolithic voting bloc that has the same supposed “values”, just as the rural inland areas of California don’t vote the same way as the people in San Francisco.

    Anyway, as we will likely see tomorrow, the challenge for Republicans in the long-term is that places such as Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Nevada are going to look a whole lot more like Illinois from a political standpoint as opposed to Nebraska. This significant change to the electoral map is going to force the Republican Party to figure out how it is going to reach voters in those states in the future.

    Comment by Frank the Tank — 11/3/2008 @ 10:51 am

  31. Here are the reasons Senator Obama will lose. First, bottom line,the adult voters know that he is an inexperienced poseur who is all sound and fury and ultimately, has no true character or moral center. Second, while many voters are not explicitly commenting on the associations of this lighter-than-air Chicago flimflam artist, they are still completely aware - and leery of same.

    No, I don’t think he’ll win and I’m praying to God that he won’t. I may not be the world’s biggest John McCain fan, despite the fact that he was very friendly with members of my family at one time, but I trust him more to defend our nation than anyone else.

    I’ve also made sure that I have a sick day for Wednesday because I work in The District and when Obama loses, I think it may be unsafe to come to work for a day or so! And isn’t that the saddest commentary of all? The riots will be caused by the infants who are still having a tantrum over 2000 when they LOST and 2004 when again, they LOST. But why screw up a good pout with reality, eh?

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 11/3/2008 @ 11:09 am

  32. Gayle, is your prediction fact or wishful thinking? I just looked at the RCP average and Obama is ahead a whopping 7%. So I guess you don’t have to worry about riots.

    Comment by funny man — 11/3/2008 @ 11:56 am


    Pingback by Right Wing Nut House » TWITS IN MCCAIN CAMP MISFIRE IN PALIN ATTACKS — 11/6/2008 @ 10:06 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress