Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hunting for Rural Votes

Mudcat Saunders, my favorite political operative, has been getting a lot of press lately given the buzz surrounds us rural voters these days. As much as it pains me to say it, The Weekly Standard offers a great profile and fairly unbiased rundown of "Mudcat Math" and his subsequent rural strategy. Mudcat asserts that getting a Republican to vote Democratic is a "twofer" because the other guys lose a vote at the same time we win one. Pretty simple, huh? Matt Labash also discusses Sen. Jim Webb's idea that bringing black city voters and white rural ones to the same table has a lot of promise because we share so many problems. Labash, however, incorrectly states that we "couldn't be more divorced culturally." I would just like to point out our mutual love of friend chicken and the fact that the banjo came from Africa and gave rise to country and blues. Combine those superficial similarities with the government's failure to address poverty for whites or blacks, and maybe you could have a winning ticket, according to rural politicians like Mudcat and Webb. 

Over at The New Republic, Isaac Chotiner finds Mudcat to be furthering stereotypes of both Northern and Southern Democrats. Chotiner suggests Republicans have just as many elitists as the Democratic Party, and he's right. What he fails to notice, however, is that Mudcat (and other yellow dog Democrats down here) realizes the Democratic Party is much more likely to eventually embrace Bubba rather than just ridicule him. To paraphrase Jesus, I don't care about the elitism of the other party when mine has such a large plank in it's own eye. Chotiner's criticism that Mudcat condescends to his own people as much as Washington types doesn't really hold much water, either. After so many years of our culture being degraded, of course we're going to be just a little afraid untrustworthy politicians are going to throw out the guns with the gun show loophole. 

As far as Obama and the rural race question go, the numbers in the Weekly Standard (ironically) provide some hope. The same number of voters in West Virginia and New York both claimed race was a factor in their decision (20 percent). I contend that Clinton's good showing in the rural south, especially the mountain south, has more to do with organization than race. The Clintons are (were?) the organization and when you can remember a time the organization saved your butt after a mine accident, you might be more inclined to vote the organization ticket. I think if he showed up, ready to learn about rural culture like Mark Warner during his famous hunting trip, Obama could stand a real chance in the Fightin' Ninth and other Appalachian districts.  

Finally, I would like to pose a question: Why is it noble or praiseworthy when upper-middle class liberals vote their conscience and against their economic interests but when hicks do it, we're just showing our ignorance? 

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