Obama vs Small Town America

It it wasn't crystal clear before, it is now with the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate that Barack Obama has nothing but disdain for anyone who has the effrontery to live outside of our nation's biggest population hubs. The trouble is, that's a lot of people, some of whom he needs to get elected, much to his dismay, I'm sure.

Even if you didn't take Obama's comments in San Francisco – about how people in the heartland cling to guns and religion because they're bitter – as a personal insult as I did (and I'm not even from a small town… at least it wasn't when I was growing up in Cleveland), there's no mistaking that Obama holds much of America in contempt from the way he's reacted to Sarah Palin and her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.

Obama dismissed Palin and the proud people of the town she so dearly loves in the same way arrogant kings through the ages have dismissed the little guy and his movement right up to the moment they're deposed. And what's worse is that the nicest throne Obama has ever sat on is probably the toilet in his master bath if you'll please pardon the crude imagery.

For my part, the only experience I've had with small town America was rather fleeting, but it was nonetheless memorable – in fact, the memory is indelible. I went to Ohio University for only a year, and it lies smack in the hills of Appalachia. I confess that I expected to find myself knee-deep in hicks when I first went there, so I was unprepared for the reality that these were decent, hard working people who, despite despite plenty of reasons to, never seemed to complain about their lot.

First, I found myself envying them, and a little later, admiring them. I soon came to realize that these were the real Americans – the people this country is and should always be all about. On my frequent bus trips back to Cleveland, Greyhound traveled the interstate as much as possible, Trailways took the winding backroads. That was much slower.

I came to prefer Trailways.

The trip was was long, six hours, but infinitely more educational, and a delight to the senses. I was struck by how simply these people lived. I remember downtown Wadsworth at 11 o'clock without a car in sight and the little town we'd roll through about 2am that shall probably forever remain nameless with its old style gas station and the round globe atop the sole pump.

Not a soul was stirring. The real America was sleeping. I used to try to imagine what life in the daytime was like and I realized that Mayberry was real in middle Ohio..

On the interstate, progress was measured in mile markers and billboards. The Trailways trip was marked by each distinct little town and rest-stop diners. The hottest chili I ever had was a one of these places in the early morning hours on one trip back to the university.

Ohio University itself, while doing its best to blend in, was a sea of modernity compared to Athens itself, the town in which it is situated.. One didn't have to pass through town to get to classes, but walking to and from the tiny bus station and going to the lone movie house became a treat. I relished the differences in location, feel, and state of mind one had as compared to motoring around Cleveland's suburbs to see the movie of choice that evening and eating at another newly discovered restaurant.

In Athens there was usually one choice, and even then, it was usually cheaper than Cleveland and richer in texture. Looking back, I can't recall a single bad experience I had with a "townee," as they were known ( derisively by some, the budding Obamas of the era, no doubt). I just found myself wishing I could live in a place like this when I grew up, and knowing that I probably never would.

And I never have. Funnily enough, my time spent in Covina and San Dimas, California, suburbs of Los Angeles, was the closest I'd come to approximating my student experience.

Barack Obama certainly had similar experiences in Hawaii and Indonesia, but he apparently came away feeling less than appreciative and more cynical of the people with whom he'd been required to mingle. Perhaps he has good reason. I mean, does small-town Indonesia even have a movie theater? And if not, where did he learn to be so arrogant?

Oh that's right, his university experience at Harvard was a little different than mine.

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About tedwest

A longtime veteran of comedy and political forums, I decided that I needed a more restful venue because... well... I finally hate everybody. Except my wife that is... and my ex-wife.. and... no, that's about it. I lead about as simple a life as one can, preferring activities that include anything that doesn't involve going out and seeing YOU! And I particularly enjoy what I call "Get the Bitch" movies on Lifetime. You know the ones where the intended victim finally does something so incredibly stupid that she forfeits her right to live, and from that moment on you're rooting for the stalker. Of course, it rarely works out the way you want, but when it does, the feeling you get is... well, there's nothing else like it, other than, maybe, eating chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I'm proudly anti-wildlife, both foreign and domestic, and anti-environment - especially foreign environments. I think Howard Stern put it best when he said, "If fifty percent of the population died tomorrow, I can live with that." And I feel the same about the other fifty percent, so together, we've pretty much got it all covered.
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2 Responses to Obama vs Small Town America

  1. Cori says:

    You hit the nail on the head about something that's been driving me nuts. People keep saying — with a truckload of disdain — that she's just "the mayor of a town of 9000" (somehow forgetting that she was, oh, you know, governor of the state and all). Do those 9000 people not matter because they aren't part of LA or DC or NY? Seriously, that bugs me.
    Also, SHE WAS GOVERNOR OF HER STATE. Just a little reminder there.
    (side note: on the flip side, it also bugs me when people refer to Obama as just a community organizer. He was in the senate, although he never really did anything and spent his whole time campaigning for POTUS. Still. I try and be equal where I can. Still still, mayor of a city is a heck of a lot better than a community organizer!)

  2. JudgeBob says:

    I totally relate to the small town. I spent the earlier part of my growing years in small towns in Oklahoma. At 12 my mom moved us to L.A. California. Culture shock in the extreme. Later when I joined the Air Force and spent two years in the U.K. I had much less culture shock than that move to L.A. I now live in Orange County in the L.A. basin and I do miss the small towns, but my work requires that I be here and if I can get invested in a house I'll probably stay until I retire. But I'm hanging on to a little 5 acre plot my dad left each of his kids. That's where I'm going to retire.

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