Little Tart loves it all…most of the time

Last time I checked Pennsylvanians were bitter monkeys

Posted on: April 13, 2008

And they have a right to be!

The Obama “bitter” controversy is out of hand!  I lived in Pittsburgh, PA for 3 years.  I grew up in the industrial Midwest – also known as the Rustbelt – of which Pennsylvania is part.  25-30 years ago the jobs that regular people worked; The jobs that in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s put kids through college, bought summer cabins and speed boats, the jobs that allowed you to work hard, get your hands dirty and retire when you were 60 LEFT for foreign soil.  Washington D.C. and the political establishment betrayed the working middle class.  The white collar children who benefited from their parents’ blue collar jobs betrayed the working middle class.   If you have ever been to Pittsburgh, PA you would see that betrayal is happening today.  That betrayal continued all through the “prosperous” Clinton years. Years when the majority of the country saw economic growth, but Western Pennsylvanians saw 60 year old men who had worked hard their whole life competing for minimum wage convenience store jobs because there were no more options.

        Are rural, suburban and former industrialized urban Pennsylvanians bitter?  Absolutely.  Do they take comfort in conservative values, religion, gun ownership and xenophobia?  Absolutely.

        When I lived in Pittsburgh I lived on Carson Street on the Southside and I lived on Mount Washington.  Geographically they are at most 2 miles and up a steep mountainside from each other.  It was an unpleasant 20 minute walk or a 3 minute cable car ride.  Many of the residents had not made that trip in years.  Men my age (26 at the time) recalled going “downtown” as a child.  Downtown was 2.5 miles from where they lived.  Pittsburghers no longer go “downtown” because of the “crime”.  By crime, they actually mean Black People.  Pittsburghers, and by this I mean multi-generational families of eastern European descent who live within blocks of the homes they grew up in and socialize only with people they have known their whole lives, are the most narrow minded insolated people I have ever interacted with.  They are bitter.  Bitter because they are told by liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, academics and intellectuals, that as white people they are part of the ruling class in this country.  That they should be grateful for the prosperity and the opportunities this country has to offer them.  When their ancestors came to fill the steel mills and coal mines with cheap labor they were grateful. When they could afford to send their kids to college they were grateful.  What on earth do they have to be grateful for today?  If every time you left home and some pissed on your head and told you it was raining, you’d start staying at home too.   

        Did Obama word his statement wrongly?  I don’t know.  I read the speech – it seems pretty straight forward to me.  I didn’t take it a derogatory; I took it as pretty factual.  My guess is that Hillary Clinton and John McCain have never been deeper into Western Pennsylvania than the University of Pittsburgh Campus or the home of their biggest donor.  Because if they had, they would know that Pennsylvanians are bitter, and they have EVERY FUCKING RIGHT TO BE!

For those who have not read the comments, here they are:

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.

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1 Response to "Last time I checked Pennsylvanians were bitter monkeys"

He will have a tough time explaining this one away – because it is apparently what he actualy thinks.

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