PoliTuesday: Bitterness

It's not insulting to say many Pennsylvanians are bitter, it's just acknowledging the truth and confronting it honestly instead of bathing it in denial. As a Pennsylvania voter, I can say that I am bitter about a lot of things in our government. As somebody who talks to other Pennsylvanians daily, often about politics, I can say without fear of contradiction that many of them are bitter. As somebody who has gone door to door through a variety of neighborhoods talking to Pennsylvanians about political issues, I can say with great conviction that you bet your sweet bippy many Pennsylvanians are bitter about politics, in exactly the way Senator Obama said, and for exactly the reasons Senator Obama said. Anybody who says any different is either ignorant, or a liar.

Progressives are bitter about Bush and Cheney. Conservatives are bitter about Clinton. Progressives are bitter about declining labor laws and increases in corporate power. Conservatives are bitter about moral relativism and a bad job market. Lots of people are still bitter about the Clean Air Act, if you can believe it. (I swear that guy would have punched me if I'd kept talking.) Everybody's angry about something, and no matter who we vote for (that is, when we get a vote) the majority of us seems to get screwed somehow. Everybody wants better jobs, better schools, and better roads, and no matter who we vote for things just keep getting worse.

When they things you trust seem to abandon you, you cling even harder to what you have left. You cling to the things that still make you feel good about yourself: your self-reliance, your family, and your beliefs. That doesn't make you a bad person, that makes you a strong person. That doesn't make you hopeless, that makes you determined. Pennsylvanian bitterness is not a negative trait to be denied, it is a foundational trait that needs to be addressed.

Now, I don't know if Senator Obama could solve any of the above problems from the White House, and even I wouldn't trust him if he said he definitely could. The first step to solving a problem, however, is admitting that a problem exists. Denying the problem then going out for a beer and a bump may be a good way to get through the next 24 hours, but it's not the best way to get through the next 4 years.

2008.04.15 at 12:00pm EDT