Our kitchen faucet sprung a leak so Bill the Plumber came by. (We joke that we may have to adopt him, he’s been here so often lately with one problem and another.) He’s a middle-aged white guy. Chatting after the repair was done, he said “I’ll be so glad when the election is over.” We kind of made careful noises to each other and I said something like, “I don’t know who you support,” and he said, “I’ll tell you if you want” and I said “OK” and he said “Barack.” I said me too. And then we chatted. He said he thinks McCain is offering no programs, just attacks. He also said he has a half-Black daughter-in-law and can’t stand racist attacks, spending some time on that theme, saying “of course all of us have some of that” but then going on about how can people go to church and then come home spouting that stuff. He complained about one customer who spouts vile racist stuff and how he warns the boss that if the guy says that stuff while he’s around, he’s going to go off on him, because this is in the family and it is personal. Then he said he has a son in the military who has been in Iraq twice, and his son and most of the guys in the military are going to vote for McCain because they are concerned about just pulling the troops out, and he said he and his son have talked about issues and they see each other’s point of view. He says he tells his son, “I understand what you are saying, but as a parent, I don’t want you sent over there.” And they agree they are going to vote differently. He also said he’s obsessively watching television and going crazy, and I told him to stay off the Internet, or he’d never get any sleep.
I wanted to scan this in myself, but my scanner isn’t working, so here’s the pictures from Daily Kos. This came to my son, a newly-registered voter. Note in particular the set up of the outer page where the address occurs, the way the quote is positioned to look like it is coming out of Obama. Paid for by the Republican Party of Wisconsin it says.
I’ve been mulling over writing a post called Me and Barack and God, about why I find Obama’s rhetoric so powerful because I share his religious tradition, as well as working intermittently on a post about talking about race that I can’t bring to conclusion because, I realize, I don’t know what the conclusion is. But a narrower post about us-them language in the election I think can raise some of the themes I’ve wanted to address. For the first time I can remember, Republicans are getting mauled in the media for saying that some people are “real Americans” or for questioning the patriotism of people who disagree with them. They are actually having to back down and apologize, at least when the national news is watching. I’ve never seen this before. I think Obama’s refusal to engage in tit-for-tat is why we are seeing this. In Pennsylvania, where a Democrat referred to white voters in the western part of the state as “racist” and then as “rednecks” when he tried to correct himself, McCain got more of a pass when he called people the “most patriotic part of America” because he was countering an attack on them, and the name-calling seemed more balanced. My daily “spirituality and peacemaking” email arrived today with this quotation from Henri Nouwen in Peacework: Continue reading “us and them”
Mulling over the debate, here’s what I wish Obama had said about the time McCain was whining about Lewis daring to compare Palin’s rallies to KKK rallies.
Even though your running mate’s rallies are getting out of hand and some white voters are willing to tell television or newspaper reporters straight up that they are going to vote for McCain because they will never vote for a black man, I know you are not a racist. But that kind of talk is very frightening to many Americans, who want to see a society that pulls together rather than be pulled apart by racial and ethnic conflict. Senator McCain, you are an honorable man. I invite you to take a strong stand against such talk, repudiate these people and tell the American people that you want no part of support based solely on race or people’s names, that you believe in a multi-ethnic America where we get along despite difference, and that you want all Americans to evaluate us on the basis of our stands on issues, not the color of our skin.
What do you think?
Here’s a quick one for you. I’m back in LA again. Talking politics a bit with my brother & mother. My brother drives a package truck and delivers boxes for UPS, his wife is an X-ray tech. My mother worked as an accounting clerk before she retired; she lives on a cash income in the $20,000-$30,000 range but does fine because she owns her house clear and has low taxes due to prop 13. My brother says Obama lost a lot of votes saying that above $150,000 is rich, that the people he delivers to in southern Orange county couldn’t afford their homes if they didn’t make more than that. He says that if his wife were working full time, they’d make close to that, and my mother chimes in and says “that isn’t that much.” She asks me, don’t I make more than that? I say, yes, my husband and I together make more than that, but we vote against our class interests. I tell them that the median family income in the US is about $45, 000 a year (taking the time to explain the median to my mother). Well, that may be true elsewhere, they say, but not around here.