Apr 14, 2008

Obama And Those "Bitter" People In the Middle

It's an interesting question. Do people in the Heartland really believe in their religions and the need to own guns and the danger of gays and immigrants? Is this really th culture, or are they lead to these beliefs out of bitterness from history, from the fear they are no longer needed economically, and so now are forgotten? What are the core values of these people who fight the wars, play guard and center on the football team and live with only the most modest expectations?

I once went to a small town in western Ohio where the Philipps 19-inch-TV factory was being relocated to Mexico. This was in the early days of NAFTA. I went with my wife and her mother for a drive. We passed through the town. There were maybe three stop lights. We had lunch at a rundown diner. I was thinking of writing a story about it at the time. I took notes but I've since lost them. No one wanted the story; it was not entertaining. All the editors had heard that story.

As I sit here now, and I usually have a good memory for these things, I don't remember a single detail of that restaurant or what we ate or what we spoke about. I don't remember a single face or expression. I can't even make something up. It's as though that memory is a black hole that sucks out the last of your imagination.

My wife insists that her mother only believed in Catholicism because there was nothing else, no other hope. No other chance for grace. When she died we went to her funeral. There was a 21 gun salute. It was so cold the old soldiers could hardly reload their guns. The wind was blowing hard. They must have used blow torches to dig up the ground. We stood in a tent. Everything and everyone was old. The death was expected. Afterwards, there was a wake. People seemed happy enough. But you got the sense that life's rhythms are so strict, so relentless that any 'bitterness', a gun or a cross or being able to hate someone on the news is all more entertainment, more a sensation, than a conviction.

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