I’m not enjoying the Democratic primary campaign.
I wish Clinton and Obama would just tell us why we should vote for them, rather than harping on why we should not vote for the other guy/gal.
But as you know, Jones’ First Law of Social Interaction (Bullies always win) has a corollary: Negative campaigning works. So now Clinton is giving Obama shit because he said this:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest,” he said, “the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them… 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.”
To me, this seems like an obviously true statement. Doesn’t it to you? I mean, take religion for example. Let’s use Christianity, because that’s the one all the candidates have to pander to. It got started among the dirt-poor in the ancient Roman Empire. The early Christians were the conquered “citizens” of Rome who were consigned to having nothing, and doomed to stay that way, while the Emperor had the ancient equivalent of hot tubs and plasma televisions. For the little guy, life was a hardscrabble forty years, followed by a short illness or a fatal accident and then back to dust.
Along comes Jesus with his promise of a kingdom in the afterlife, open to all, free of want and pain. Your lot in this life is less than irrelevant to your chance for eternal happiness in heaven. In fact, the worse things are for you here, the better they’ll be in heaven, as long as you shut up and accept your lot in life. Throw in a little ritual hocus pocus and is it any wonder people would cling to it? Like, what else would helpless, powerless, dispossessed people have to cling to? Their brutal work in the fields and mines and shops of ancient Rome, where they earned just enough to slowly starve themselves and their families to death?
As the wealth in the United States continues to be stolen and given to the rich, as the middle class is slowly turned into the lower class, then the working poor, and finally The Poor, it’s no wonder that some look for solace in their beautiful fantasy of God’s love, redemption and eternal, ecstatic life in heaven. Who’d go along with all those rules and restrictions and requirements if they weren’t desperate for something to give them hope?
I applaud the fact that there is a politician in this race with the brains to see this reality and the balls to speak of it in public. What Obama said to me with those words is “The economic policies of this government are making people desperate, and it’s got to stop. We have to give folks a way to earn a decent living, have some self-respect, educate their children and keep some hope for a dignified old age. Then they won’t have to cling to fantasies, however beautiful.”
I just hope we don’t crucify him for saying it.