Obama: Pennsylvanians Cling to Religion Because of “Bitter Frustration”

Here’s the full quote, from the Huffington Post (in a very sympathetic article I might add):

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

I commend the article to our readers, since it is more generous than I am going to be.

I think it’s true that the loss of many industrial jobs in the midwest has led to some unrest, certainly depression. I’ll concede that a degree of anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiment are a result of that, though I wouldn’t make too much of a broad generalization. I’ve talked with people who’ve admitted they blame immigration and free trade for their troubles. What I emphatically, utterly, and vehemently oppose is the notion that people are turning to “guns” because of this. I also disagree with the notion that people are bitterly clinging to religion.

Now I understand Senator Obama has spent most of his adult life in Chicago and that is bound to warp ones mind.  After all, this is the city that has yet to learn how to drive a car, despite ninety years of the automobile’s existence.  This is the city that hosts The Oprah Winfrey Show.  This is the city that hosts The Jerry Springer Show.  This is the city with State Senator Rev. James Meeks’ Salem Baptist Church which had a Halloween Night of Terror in which children were sent into “Hell” and met such illustrious characters as a pedophile on the internet, two men in glitter (THAT IMPLIES HOMOSEXUALITY!), and a buddhist.  And I’m above mentioning that Rev. James “We don’t have slave masters. We got mayors.” Meeks is another one of Obama’s spiritual advisors (oops.)

So in a word, I understand he may not get the midwest, since living in Chicago is the equivalent of living in a bomb shelter with your retarded cognitively disabled cousin from Bulgaria who can’t speak english, talks a little too close into your face, and is not yet potty trained.  I don’t blame him, I feel sorry for him.  Yet one would expect that a candidate for president, particularly a candidate who’s campaign is centered around repeating change, hope, and dream ad nauseam, would strive to understand people not only from key primary states, not only key swing states, but the kind of people who actually vote.

People don’t cling to their guns because corporations outsource.  That thought is absurd.  My mind may not be hardwired for liberal thought, but I don’t see how one can draw this conclusion.  It’s simple, people hunt for sport, food, or an outfit that looks good.  People buy guns to either hunt, or protect themselves.  They don’t buy guns to sleep with at night like some security blanket.  The midwest has had a gun culture since before corporations outsourced.  Gun culture has nothing to do with employment.  Period.

I feel foolish explaining that.

Secondly, I wish to express my disagreement with his characterization of religion.  It seems to denote a marxist tendency in his thought.  As if he believes religion is the “sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation… the opium of the people.”  While it has a romantic ring to it, it’s largely false.  People aren’t turning “bitterly” to religion because corporations are moving away.  That kind of elitist liberal condesention is something that can kill him in the election (so please do it again).  People in the midwest don’t turn to religion because of the evil corporations leaving for profits.  People in the midwest turn to religion because that’s the culture of the midwest.  They don’t turn bitterly.  I don’t wish to bring this out of his quote, but it gives the sense that he looks down on religion.  At least at his view of Midwestern religion.  

I would expect a man who converted to Christianity himself to understand it’s power is not simply social, it’s power is also spiritual.  To talk down to people like that is the height of arrogance.  I would hope he apologizes, and explains how he could appear so wrong.  

This is not change, this is not hope, this is not dreams.  This is the same crap that the midwest has had to deal with from all of the high and mighty ivory tower crap artists we call politicians.  His ostentation has bothered me for quite some time and now it reaches its peak.  Attacking the very people you had to convince is not a very good way to win an election.  Sure the young liberals and academically minded may cheer, but the working class upright religious folk you demonize are once again exploited.  Once again misunderstood.  And when they hear this they will have to turn with some resignation back to Hillary.

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5 Responses to Obama: Pennsylvanians Cling to Religion Because of “Bitter Frustration”

  1. look at the guy behind obama, he is all like “im frustrated!”

  2. keljeck says:


  3. tom says:

    What Obama was saying is that people vote for the pro gun candidate, or the pro-religion candidate or the people who can quote Lou Dobbs or Rush Limbaugh.

    They do so out of frustration because they cling to whatever culture they can find comfort in.

    The candidates themselves create the fear of losing the thing that you find comfort in, so that you will, vote for them, because you are afraid.

    Any other interpretation of what he said is bogus and you know it.

  4. keljeck says:

    Thanks for the response! First of all, I want to be clear that I posted this when the news first came out, before Obama explained his statement. If you read the initial statement at face value it does seem to be quasi-marxist. Though his explanation does help interpret the bizarre “gun” portion.

    And I still disagree with most of his clarified statement. People in the Midwest have hunted before the economic recession, and have held what the Fundies would term “strong family values.” I don’t think people are clinging to their guns because their jobs are scarce, they are clinging to their guns because it’s in our culture to hunt.

    Now I do agree that people like Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs exacerbate the problem with sensationalist reporting. But I think it’s the sensationalist reporting striking a chord in the culture that makes it difficult for Obama to get his message out, not economics. It’s culture that people like Sen. Obama are dealing with, not economic frustration. Even if we got rid of the middleman, Obama still wouldn’t be able to sell his ideals.

    It’s still condescending to say “You hold dear what you hold dear the way you hold dear to it because of outsourcing.” I think if the midwest was in prosperity we would still “cling to guns or religion.” Though he is on target when he says the economic downturn has led to anti-trade and anti-immigration sentiment. Good thing politicians like Barack Obama aren’t feeding into anti-trade fears as they campaign there!

    But thanks for the comment! If you don’t mind, how did you find us?

    Addendum: Though I think I’m starting to have second thoughts. Sen. Obama says that through clinging to their second amendment rights, to religion, to anti-trade, they are EXPLAINING their frustrations. It is from economic injustice that they come to turn to religion, which becomes the “sigh of an oppressed culture”.

    I’m sorry that this is so meandering, but it’s late here and I’m tired. Only reason I’m still up is because of thundering bass next door. On final examination it seems the clarification does little to overtake my charge. Obama claims there’s an economic downturn, people cling to religion, guns, xenophobia, and anti trade sentiment to explain (and to deal with) their frustration with the economy. This is then exploited by the opposition making it difficult for him to dispense his enlightened ideals among the masses. I suppose I’ll make the necessary edits tomorrow.

  5. Robert says:

    Now it is October 2008, people are losing their jobs, companies are reporting major losses but the churches are full and gun sales are going through the roof. Seems some people get it and others like to ignore reality. I leave it up to you in which category you think you belong.

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