Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Are Obama Supporters Too Elitist?

Did you ever notice that the humor in the the site “Stuff White People Like” is not really about “white people,” but about upscale, educated white people? They are the ones interested in New Balance shoes and ipods. Of course, most of us don’t really care about the OTHER white people — the ones who live in trailer parks in Kentucky — they’re off our radar anyway, so it isn’t a big issue. Not working class minorities. Those we do find interesting. But working class white people.

Can we add “Supporting Obama” as “Stuff Upscale, Educated, White People Like?” (at least the ones I read all the time on the blogosphere)

While I usually don’t write much about politics, I have been fascinated by the growing class distinctions in the Democratic race. You would think that this year’s election would be manna from heaven for the Democratic party, as the candidates include a woman AND a man of color. Instead, upscale white people, meaning most of the media, academia, and Democratic blogosphere are crazy over Obama, leaving Clinton with the underbelly of the party. Ironically, this group is helping Clinton win the nomination.

Obama is a great orator, someone who inspires the intellectual with visions of hope (which means living in a country that isn’t run by George Bush), but the actual working class seems to be voting for Clinton. They gave her the victory in Pennsylvania. Why isn’t the working class inspired by Obama? Is it because Clinton gets down and dirty and speaks to the real-life issues that face these citizens rather than speaking in flowery tones about hope? Is it racism, where the Archie Bunkers of the world feel more comfortable with a woman than a man of color?

I think we should partly blame ourselves… and our own elitism, which is affecting the whole election. While the Democratic party was once the strong hold of the working and middle class, most of the upper middle class now look on them with disdain. Our issues are not their issues. Maybe we are embarrassed about our own humble backgrounds, wanting to maintain a certain sophisticated image as we Twitter away in our loft/office in San Francisco. Obama has been criticized as elitist, but I think he is only trying to appeal to his followers — us.

Here are a couple of Twitters I just read after Hillary’s victory speech in Pennsylvania:

Watching a Hillary Clinton “victory speech” is like watching puppies raping kitties.

Let me rephrase that, Hillary’s audience looks like the crowd that got turned away at the Jerry Springer taping.

“blah blah blah day one, blah blah blah gas prices, blah blah blah give me money”

I love watching the idiots behind Hillary… they are funny to look at.

I really want to understand how anyone can look at Hillary Clinton & think to themselves: “You know? I think she should be president!” WTF?!

Not only did I notice a hatred for Clinton, but also for her followers, as if they were stupid. They are described like the unwelcome family members from the deep South that you hide from your children. I even read a blogger calling Clinton the candidate of “old saggy women,” and this was written by a woman! Great, let’s add a little ageism to the mix!

Why do people who always complain about lack of equality in life, always turn around and act just as pig-headed? Maybe someone working hard to care of their family doesn’t have the time to go to seminars about global warming or Darfur, but it doesn’t mean that we both can’t be part of the Democratic party. That’s what politics is all about. If the Democrats really want to win, they need to get the working class under their wing. Without them, first Clinton will win, and then McCain will be President.

Too many people think supporting a candidate is akin to following some cool band. I don’t think it is a good idea for Obama supporters to be dismissive of the lower middle class, calling them ” gun-toting trailer trash.” This is not an effective way to win voters over to your side. Supporting a candidate isn’t feeling good about yourself. It is about winning elections.

If I were some hard-working blue-collar guy working in Pennsylvania, there would be no way I would vote for Obama after reading some of the things Obama supporters write about ME on Twitter. It’s like when Simon Cowell trashes some singer on American Idol, and the bulk of Americans vote the opposite way just to sting him. Why are we mocking those necessary to win an election? At some point, hipsters have to listen to at least one Randy Travis song if they want to win the election.

44 Comments

  1. Well said.

    Thank you.

  2. As a member of the lower-to-middle middle class…I have to say that you’re the first (and only, to date) person who’s written something about the candidates that I can comprehend. And that I found interesting. And that didn’t make me dislike the person doing the pontificating.
    🙂

  3. Makes a lot of sense to me, Neil.

  4. I have to admit that I was shocked to find three people on Twitter that support Hillary. (I’m one of the three.)

    Totally agree with your point about all the name calling.

  5. I’m just trying to hang on to the hope that McCain won’t win. I hate to say it, but I think he will. But I always aim low so that I’m not disappointed.

  6. I think your post is just as much a social commentary as it is a political one. I’ve been in a few different circumstances where supporters hi-jack occasions and conversations without allowing a word in edgewise or inquiring as to the preferences of the group. When and if they did they gave us no time to answer and then acted as if everyone HAD to think the way they thought or they weren’t worth listening too.
    I’ve found the entire democratic race disenchanting. I’ve never been more disinterested in what candidates have to because I know it doesn’t have squat to do with inflation, oil prices or health care. I’ve been turned off so much by all of them I’m writing in Harry Truman on my ballot.

  7. i really think i need to be elected instead. i rule with an iron hand. so i’ve been told.

  8. i have an ipod and new balance shoes, but i assure you that i am not educated, nor upscale.

    on a serious note, this is a great post.

  9. I don’t think you can ignore any class in an election. I would hope the candidates know that, because they’re being elected to speak for ALL, not just their supporters. We need someone who is even going to stand up for someone they hate.

    But I honestly don’t know if any of the three up for election (Mc, Ob, Cl) will do that at all. For a country that harps about being enlightened, we’re still in the dark.

  10. Let me rephrase that, Hillary’s audience looks like the crowd that got turned away at the Jerry Springer taping.

    Ouch.

    Class is as much a touchy issue as race in this country, and I commend you for tackling it. The Springer comment is a perfect example why I wasn’t as vocal about supporting Hillary as my fellow Obama bloggers.

  11. Hillary has been a polarizing figure since the 90’s. My personal distaste for her has nothing to do with her being a female, and everything to do with the person she is. Some seem willing to give her a pass on all of her past transgressions and idiocies. Including, largely, Obama. Some don’t. Including, for certain, me.

    Does that make me elitist? Well, okay then.

  12. Why might the working class flock to Hillary, beyond her political accomplishments? She’s the one who was first lady of Arkansas–a state not known for its affluence and “culture.” She married the guy who was raised by the single mother in a “tacky” household, the guy that proved you could be smart and go places without having parents in polo shirts and khakis who vacation in Maine and attend Yale games. She’s the one who was publicly humiliated by her husband’s trashy infidelity and soldiered on. And she’s the one who seems to understand the impact our lack of a healthcare system has on ordinary Americans. As First Lady, she endured so much crap about her looks, her brains, her husband, her role in the White House. Lesser women might have taken a lower profile but she stood tall. She’s doggedly determined and scrappy, and while she’s not flowery, she’s passionate. I have a lot of admiration for her and what she’s accomplished. Whether she’s electable and the best candidate–I’m not sure.

    Living in Europe for three years, I saw and heard what Western Europe thought of America and its foreign policy. I watched my family’s buying power plummet with the dollar, and while Americans, the biggest consumers of gasoline in the world, complained about $3 a gallon, I saw what $10/gallon looks like. I also saw the absolute shock and horror on Europeans faces in the wake of Katrina, when the TV coverage revealed the faces of the poor in America, when it became clear not only that this massive underclass existed in the Promised Land, but that they were left to fend for themselves while everyone fretted over New Orleans historic district and tourism sites.

    This is an insightful post, Neil. Bravo.

  13. I find it interesting that certain people in your country treat blue collar workers no better than those with McJobs. Tradespeople are the reason rich assholes have electricity, plumbing, waste removal and other basic services. It’s time people stopped looking at classes. I couldn’t believe what I read on Twitter last night.
    ~ Proud To Be The Wife of an Electrician
    (also granddaughter to a contractor, niece to a heating/cooling company owner, daughter in law to another electrician)

  14. Brilliant post, Neil. The Contac must have worn off.

    I have been a Hillary supporter for many reasons, but in fact it’s the very things you’re speaking of here, including the drooling love the media has for Obama, and the elitism expressed by Obama’s followers, that has made me an angry Hillary supporter.

    The Huffington Post has all but burned Hillary at the stake, and if you look at their headlines today, they make a perfect complement to your post. I think you should send it in and see if they’ll publish it.

  15. I think Obama is a fabulous speaker, I really do. Very smooth. But I’ve never gotten a gut level feel for any real substance in what he says–like cotton candy dissolving in your mouth.It wasn’t until I found an old clip of Robert Kennedy speaking in Indianapolis the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination–spoke despite warnings not to and the refusal of bodyguards to accompany him–that I remembered we once had political LEADERS who could gave real speeches with real content.
    Hillary has content, but Obama looks more like a thoroughbred–not seen often in the trailer parks of my old Kentucky home.
    Interesting discourse, Neilochka.

  16. Last night I listened to some people I really adore talk about how much they HATED Hilary, how they couldn’t stand the idea of her as prez, and they were disgusted by her tactics in this election. I was really surprised, first, by the vitriol, and secondly, by their expectation that Hilary would take some kind of higher political ground in the first place. I never got swept up in Obama fever and my reasons for distrusting Hilary had to do with her politics. I allayed those by, hey, call me crazy, looking at her record as suggested by someone smarter than I.

    I wonder if Hilary’s not widely hated as a spoiler of the promise of a some glowing liberal version of ourselves? File under “Stuff White People Hate” – not being able to show off our liberal dreams. I’m not committed to that idea, but I do not get the haters. I always ask them what they’re going to do if Obama doesn’t win the nomination. Vote for McCain? Nader? What?

    Rambling. Anyhow, this was a great read. Thanks.

  17. For someone who doesn’t write about politics that often, this is one of the best analysis I’ve read.

  18. I often feel sorry for Hillary because I think she’s really getting slammed by a lot of people… which proves to me that things are harder in many ways for women than for blacks.

    I’m not sure which one would make a better president. I’m beginning to think the best president would be someone who didn’t really want the job.

  19. I’m pretty sure that “Obama” was one of the first “Stuff White People Like” posts. Can it be possible for me to like both of them? Please? Because I do.

  20. This was interesting… I’m an Obama supporter. But I don’t think anyone has ever called me “elitist” or “upscale” in my life.

  21. I think you’re letting ‘comments’ and Twitters guide you in this post. Personally, I never give much weight to any comment where the author won’t give their name. But…I digress. I don’t fit any of those descriptions you used for Obama supporters, yet I am one. Originally a Richardson fan, I turned to Obama because he doesn’t seem to have the political ‘history’ that Clinton does. I want a big change and I don’t think I will get it with Clinton. I could be wrong.

  22. Oh, c’mon. White trash rednecks don’t use Twitter! It’s like our special place to be elitist!

  23. Very GREAT post. It seriously has me thinking.
    I’m an Obama “supporter” and our household is considered middle class, although truly we’re working poor. I predominantly support Obama for the whole Lobbyist issue and the fact that he’s not willing to bend. He’s also quite charismatic, and although my husband was a McCain “supporter” he’s now switching camps. It’s a hard call, really. I’m a woman, would love to see a woman in office, but not necessarily THIS woman. Thanks for the post. It’s making me think.

  24. Don’tcha know? People are FOR Simon this season.

  25. “Conservatism rose on a tide of votes cast by people irritated by the liberalism of condescension.”

    Great article here:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5704151.html

  26. I like country music. Really. And some of my closest friends when I lived in Virginia were self-proclaimed rednecks.

  27. I prefer Hillary because she’s actually DONE stuff. Obama just yaps. But anyone’s better than McCain.

  28. Wonderful post, Neil, just GREAT! I totally agree with you 100%. As for me I seriously go back and forth of who I want, I lean towards Obama. I am at a loss of what to do if McCain wins.

  29. Good post, Neil, but you should have written it a month or two ago. That’s when I turned off most of the people I was following in Twitter.

  30. Oh, it goes both ways. You think Hillary supporters will be singing Kum Ba Ya once Obama receives the nomination? Take your pick: class warfare, racism, ageism, sexism—every one has chosen a seat at the table this cycle, more vocal this time because, for the first time ever, the choices illustrate it.

    Either way it goes, the president will be a black man, a woman, or a man who would be the oldest first-time inaugurated president. History is here. The question is: will we continue to pick each other apart or are we willing to work through our differences toward the common good? That’s not the job of the president, that particular responsibility falls to we the people.

  31. Whenever people disagree they tend to go straight for the stereotypes or the making fun of someone because of how they are different from them. Politics or anywhere else. It’s sad and it’s all too common.

  32. To continue the train of thought, the key to winning elections is to mobilize the vote.

    From up here, I am worried about another 8 years of the Republicans as they sit back and ramp up their machine — as the democrats implode. The vitriol and hate is just going to do the Dems a disservice in the long run. Time for a backroom deal me thinks.

    (This post makes me want to write more.)

  33. Fringes said, “The question is: will we continue to pick each other apart or are we willing to work through our differences toward the common good?” I feel like Obama is the only candidate who has asked me to take an active role in the future of our country.

    When I saw him speak in Mpls,it was the most racially diverse crowd I had ever encountered in my state. It was a terrific blend of people from all walks of life.

    It saddens me to read about the things you encountered on twitter. Putting others down doesn’t bring ourselves up. They would have a time out for taunting in the classroom in which I work. Do those words help or hurt the ultimate cause?

  34. I enjoyed your post, Neil. I am one of those latte drinking Dems and Obama supporter. It seems to me that too often Americans choose presidents based on who they’d rather have a beer with than who would represent the country better. It’s the only way I can understand why George W won two elections. And after embarrassing years, I think it would be a refreshing change to have someone who comes across just a little better than everybody else. Because shouldn’t a President be just a little better? The bottom line is that both Democratic candidates are well suited and so close on the issues. I hope that whoever the nominee is can unite the party. Either way, we’ll have a fight on our hands. As democrats, we need to save our energies for that!

  35. This is interesting, since I’m from Pennsylvania and very close to Philadelphia.
    And I had the exact opposite of what you describe happen to me yesterday, and am still pissed off about it today. I’m an Obama supporter. I guess I am ‘white upper class’…well, raised that way. I’m fucking poor in reality, actually.

    Anyway, a friend, who now that you mention it, was lower to middle class her whole life and now is upper-middle, is a violent Hilary supporter. And venomous. She made what I thought to be an incredibly arrogant comment on her blog. Instead of saying “I voted for Hilary, howabout you?” She said “I voted for the best, most qualified, etc” candidate.

    I poked fun at her for stating something as fact that was just her opinion, and she rebutted with saying it WAS fact. She then responded to someone who asked her to explain her choice by bashing Obama and making a sweeping statement about anyone who would vote for Obama as being ‘idealist’ and believing in ‘nothing of substance’. Basically, she indirectly called me an idiot.

    Then she directly called me one by saying “no offense, but you were never that big into politics”.

    Damn, man. It isn’t only Obama people calling Hilary names. I’ve kept my mouth shut, but I was so fucking pissed off yesterday. Hence MY last Twitter message.

    I plan on supporting whomever gets the Democratic nomination. So I’ll keep my mouth shut about Hilary because I might be supporting her later!!

    I’m quiet about politics in general because I used to spend a LOT of time talking about it (before the web got popular) and it did nothing but fuel anger and animosity. Nobody’s minds get changed, in my experience. Much like trying to discuss religion.

    It is unhealthy for me. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested or informed. I am thinking of writing a post to explain just what it is I like about Obama, but I guess I should have done it before the Pa. primary.

    In the meantime, McCain sits back with the rest of the Republicans and enjoys seeing his Presidency become more and more certain.

    The Democratic Party has really pissed me off over the years. This is driving me nuts.

    Sorry so long, Neil, but thanks for the opportunity to vent. 🙂

  36. You know, it’s not often that I, an unemployed black woman, a single parent, am referred to as “elitist.” Maybe I should consider it a compliment.

  37. Buzzgirl — elitism isn’t always about money. It is about attitude. There are plenty of poor snobs and well-off regular folk. Think of the grungy poet in the coffee shop and the successful plumber.

  38. This was brilliant, man. Brilliant.

  39. Great post, very well said.

  40. sorry to come here so late Neil…LOVE your post. Saturday Night Live has actually had some great skits about how the media treats Obama vs. Hilary. Elitism, ageism, sexism, and racism are all apart of this election…it will only continue to get uglier.

  41. There was a, um, fracas recently on my blog in response to a post I made about Clinton voters who, when exit polled, said they’d vote McCain instead of Obama. I’m going to link to and (with full attribution) quote your post today. This is incredibly well said. Thanks for adding light and not heat to the discussion.

  42. OMG, I’m so glad I don’t have those twitter-peeps. As a Hillary supporter, I would never, ever, ever say anything like that about Obama, and I can not for the life of me understand why any Obama supporter thinks that’s OK.

    And for the record, it was an awesome speech, loudly cheered, and it was very complimentary to Obama.

  43. Other than being a blog reader I’m somone who fits squarely into the stereotype of the workiing class. I work with my hands. I don’t make a ton of money. We struggle. To me the whole working class divide is racisim pure and simple. With the exception of Iraq Hillary and Obama basically have the same voting record. Is Hillary a fancy lawyer/former first lady/Yalie/multi-millionaire an elitist? Of course. Is Obama a fancy lawyer/senator/former labor organizer an elitist. Yeah probably, but for my money less so than Hillary. Has Hilary been mistreated by the media. Yeah, but it sounds like she earned it by surrounding herself with assholes. How about Obama. Do you watch Fox news? Did you see that ABC debate? The differences between these candidates are mainly of style. If you’re young, black, or well educated you tend to support Obama. If you’re old, less well educated or a middle aged white woman you tend to support Hillary. Tell me which of those groups would tend to be more racist? I call tell you for sure that most of the guys I work with are racists. Not sheet wearing KKK racists, but the type or racists who don’t have black friends, tell racist jokes, and prefer to be with “their own kind”. Hence they vote for Hillary. How do I know this, well I’m a black guy who can pass as white, so they think I’m one of them and I hear it all the time. I’m not saying all Hillary supporters are racist. But with her campaign has effectively been speaking in the code that everyone I work with knows. These codes dice and slice the electorate. “Is Obama a Muslim” she was asked, “Not to my knowledge” she replied. That kind of stuff. It mght win her an election in the short term but in the long term it’s incredibly destructive. It is amazing to me that any true Democrat would say they would vote for McCain knowing his voting record, but that’s the depth to which the wedge has been driven in the Democratic party. That more Hillary supporters say they would not vote for Obama in the general election speaks volumes as to what kind of destructive, slanderous and occassionally racist campaign she has run.

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