THE PLANK JUNE 30, 2008
Eli Saslow's Washington
Post article about the attitudes of voters in Findlay, Ohio, has been a popular topic of discussion at TNR.com this
afternoon, with three different posts on the Plank. In his post, Isaac tries to
understand the citizens of Findlay
without being pinned as a typical elitist. In response, commenter DDovenbarger
noted why Obama's successes in life may turn away "Flag City" voters:
I am not
sure we have a non-derogatory word for the opposite of a meritocracy. The
difficulty with understanding the good citizens of Findlay and similar places
is that they are--and have been--the places to come from--that is, those who
achieve merit in school, army, or profession, move onto to other places with
higher salaries. What is left behind, is a serious, and often
good-hearted, collection of those who either never succeeded on the same scale
as others, or simply did not buy into the idea of merit and progress.
Obama is a hard sell because he so clearly made it where he is because of his
ability. So while, on one hand, they give applause to the American dream
of someone coming from little and becoming a lot, the know from personal
experience that reaching for the American dream also empties their towns and diminishes
local church attendance.
change comes even there. A generation ago, no one in my town would have
driven a 'foreign' car. You drove GM or Ford. How did it come to be
that almost overnight I saw farmers buying all sorts of foreign goods, Kabota
tractors for goodness sake! Change in these towns does spring from
personal endorsement and example. Obama's best hope is to have good
people there endorse him. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out, if you get
some local mavens onto something, an idea can spread like wildfire.
Conversely, if the false rumors being spread develop a bit of a stench in
the eyes of people respected in those communities, McCain's chances will
unravel even more rapidly.