Before one of those famous Democratic fat cat private fund-raisers, when he was free to be myself (or so he thought), Barrack Obama continued to display why the major parties in normal elections don’t let a novice get this close to the Presidential nomination. In a pitched battle for blue collar, small town voters in Pennsylvania, Obama explained his take on the situation: "And it's not surprising, then, 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." Reminiscent of his "typical white person" comment, these remarks illustrate the basic "disconnect" between the Obama campaign pitch and his real self.

Attributing people who hold these views as solely the product of economic problems is a standard liberal line. That Obama would say so is no surprise, as is his refusal to recant the thrust of the remark. The amazing part of the quote, however, is its tone of condescension and elitism. In other words, "these poor stupid people do not know what to think" and their sometimes deeply held views on religion, gun ownership, or illegal immigration are merely delusional, based on their own lack of intelligence or information. This is the part that will haunt his campaign to the end. It flies in the face of his alleged desire to put partisan divisions behind us and take a centrist, high-road.

Senator Obama shares the view of the elitist Left that they know better than other Americans, that increasing the scope and size of government is necessary despite what the average American thinks, because the economically “oppressed” are delusional about religion, gun ownership and secure borders. The liberal argument is that people “cling” to these conservative-associated views because they are ignorant of their own “true interests,” which lie with the Left and the redistribution of wealth through public welfare and handouts.

The attribution of these viewpoints to displaced anxiety over economic misfortunes is just plain inaccurate and not factually supported by the evidence.

As to religion, where Senator Obama’s “expertise” was finely honed under the tutelage of Reverend Wright, the data in the United States simply do not support the simplistic view that educated people are less religious. GSS 1972-2004 Cumulative Datafile [“30.4% of those with a graduate degree attend religious services weekly or more, a statistically significant proportion, higher than any lesser educated group”]. See Burton et al., “Education and Fundamentalism,”30 Review Of Religious Research 344 (1989)(“contrary to our expectations, converts to Fundamentalism were not less edcuated people.”).

Obama’s mantra about religion as a clutch for the desperate is, of course, contradicted his own self-proclaimed Christianity on the campaign trail (outside of San Francisco). The San Francisco speech expresses what I suspect is his real belief that societies as in Western Europe that have evolved to moral relativism away from religion are intellectually superior to the United States (hence Michelle Obama’s “mean country” and "never proud of America" references).

How about those oppressed, bitter people buying guns? “Gun owners, on average, are somewhat better educated than their non-gun-owning peers…” Dizard et al GUNS IN AMERICA: A READER (NYU Press 1999), p. 169. Many people enjoy hunting and many others want the right to defend their families and home. They do not do so because they are misplaced economic anxieties.

Next, how about those “oppressed and bitter” people who oppose liberal immigration laws rewarding those who got to the US illegally? Studies show that concern over illegal immigration does not neatly correlate with economic insecurity. See Burns & Gimpel, “Economic Insecurity, Prejudicial Stereotypes, and Public Opinion on Immigration Policy,” 115 Political Science Quarterly (2000) pp.201-225. In general, those with more education and income feel less threatened by immigration laws that allow more people into the country, but it is totally unclear that this trend applies to tolerance for illegal immigration. See MTSU Poll results (2008)(the lowest income group supported a guest worker program by the highest percent and 73% of those with income under $40,000 supported a path to citizenship for illegals). It is impossible to make cut-and-dry observations about the relationship of income or education to support for controlling illegal immigration. In fact, some data suggest that those who follow public issues are far more likely to oppose illegal immigrant amnesty, for example: “…among those do know enough about the bill to have an opinion, there is roughly a three to one level of opposition over support.”
Newman, Gallup Polling (2007).

Finally, on NAFTA, where Obama has been using his declared “opposition” to woo blue collar voters, while privately having aides reassure Canadian government officials that it is just for popular political consumption, do the “bitter” folks simply reflect economic insecurity? At the time of the NAFTA debate, there was no clear correlation between personal economic levels and support or opposition to NAFTA. See Uslaner, “Trade Winds: NAFTA and the Rational Public,“ 20 Journal of Political Behavior (December 1998). Both Democratic candidates – deeply involved with various union political activitists – have used NAFTA as a whipping boy for economic problems in the Rust Belt states that they need to win the nomination. While Obama cynically tells the San Franciso high-rollers that the anti-NAFTA sentiment is just the low income folks “clinging” to an excuse, he uses the issue for exactly that purpose. NAFTA is not the cause of Rust Belt job losses, which can be traced to Obama's union backers as much as any other cause. NAFTA has caused a net increase in U.S. jobs according to all of the nonpartisan, professional studies. Obama's San Francisco remarks seem to recognize these facts and clearly display his own hypocrisy in using NAFTA as an issue.

So Barrack Obama wants to attribute a variety of religious and political views of small town America to their lack of education and bitterness over their economic plight. This is an important creed of liberalism – coming from the most liberal guy in the U.S. Senate – in that liberals have to explain why lower income people do not support them, despite their innate ability to know better what is good for these voters.

Observations, including those made here, that this candidate is not ready to run for national office seem to be accurate. As he nears a lock on the nomination, despite losing all big primary states but his own, and despite losing the Democratic white vote by a wide margin, Obama is posed to implode. Slippage began with the Rev. Wright flap – which is still a gaping wound ready to reopen as soon as Obama turns onto to the main campaign highway. There is no doubt that when really pressed this candidate will make more slip-ups, principally because he has campaigned as something that he fundamentally is not, a nonpartisan, centrist seeking to accommodate divergent views into a new consensus. Every glimpse we get of the real guy tells us what far from the truth that pitch really is……..

Randy Mott


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