Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Appalachia, ideologically, is at war with itself."

My hometown newspaper, The Roanoke Times, has a great package today about Appalachian voters and Obama's chances in Virginia.

Pundits and bloggers, myself included, have already spilled a lot of digital ink about how to swing rural mountain voters one way or the other. This is important to both campaigns, but I don't know what I can say that hasn't already been said. I would like to point out, however, how the Times' piece tries to balance coverage of people in Appalachia. Yes, a lot of us still operate under the misunderstanding that Obama is Muslim. A lot of us are racist. A lot of us are disenchanged. And, yes, a lot of us are bitter.

But as I've moved even farther back up into the mountains, I am also reminded how people here would give you the shirt off their back, cut you a deal on rent you can't afford, and carry out a million other small acts of kindness. In sum, Appalachian voters are people, too - people who seem to have gotten a shorter end of the stick than those voters who don't worry as much about Obama's racial background. People in poverty who are racist or too busy feeding their families to pay attention to politics don't deserve to be exploited, either.

And if you think that considering how to cover these voters without being condescending, just ask Obama what sort of electoral risks that attitude carries.

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