Front Porch Blog

AFL-CIO Political Chair Implies Appalachian Voters are Racist

From Harold Meyersons otherwise lame column about Obama and America’s anger problems called, Can He Be a Working-Class Hero:

The unions will rely heavily on one-on-one meetings that shop stewards and local leaders hold with their members. “We’ll have to fight with our own members on this,” public employee union President Jerry McEntee, who also chairs the AFL-CIO’s political committee, said at Sunday’s rally. “We’ve got to say to our Appalachian members who say they can’t vote for him, he’s black — we gotta tell them that’s [expletive]!

I appreciate this sentiment from Mr. McEntee that racism is “[expletive]!”. However, this tired narrative that “Appalachia is more racist than the rest of America” was started during the Democratic primaries because Hillary Clinton did much better than Barack Obama in West Virginia and Kentucky, and the Appalachian regions of Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee. I wrote about and attempted to rebut this narrative often (here, here, here, and here among other places), in an attempt to defend Appalachia from charges that we are some “racist” backwater despite the fact that voters in every state described race as an important factor in their decision.

Appalachia, of course, has a long, mixed, and often progressive history on racial issues. [i.e.: the founding of West Virginia] The primaries in Appalachia played out precisely as you would have expected if you were simply looking demographic performance from other regions of the country, and the demographics of Appalachia. The human make-up of Appalachia was tailor-made for Clinton, and the Clinton brand is very strong in Appalachia. But, thats much too complicated for a complacent media to fit into a soundbyte. So we get the media saying “Clinton voters are racist…in Appalachia…because…umm…Appalachians are stupid hillbillies…and…umm…Clinton is white and Obama is black…and Appalachian voters don’t think about anything but being racist…and…umm…don’t have any issues…except for that they love the economy and eat clean coal for breakfast.”

Here is a list of the total percentage of Dem primary voters per state who said race is “the most important important factor, or one of many important factors”

From MSNBC exit polls:

Mississippi: (30)
Alabama (28)
Louisiana (25)
Illinois (22)
West Virginia (22)
Georgia (21)
Tennessee (21)
Kentucky (21)
Ohio (20)
Oklahoma (20)
Missouri: (19)
Pennsylvania (19)
Texas (19)
Arkansas (18)
Delaware (18)
New Jersey (18)
New York (18)
North Carolina (18)
Rhode Island (17)
California (17)
Indiana (16)
Massachusetts: (16)
Connecticut (15)
New Mexico (14)
Arizona (14)
Vermont (13)
Utah (8)

Kentucky and WV are not, statistically speaking, significantly more “racist” than Missourri, Pennsylvania, Deleware, Jersey, New York, North Carolina…and on down the line. And we are just as “racist” as Illinois, which elected Barack Obama to the Senate with 70% of the vote. Does Appalachia have issues with race and racism? I would say “Yes, but so does almost everywhere else in America. Racism is a worldwide problem and has been since the beginning of recorded history.” Race is just one of thousands of reasons to vote for or against Barack Obama, and its sad to think that the media (and even progressive media like DailyKos and Jon Stewart) can just call Appalachia “racist” when a lot of our people vote for someone else besides the candidate the media considers “the black guy.”

I’ll also note, that Obama leads McCain among “working-class white voters”:

But even among white workers — a group of voters that has been targeted by both parties as a key to victory in November — Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, and has the advantage as the more empathetic candidate.

So are white-working class voters not racist yet? Thank goodness Americans have each other, and the internet to communicate and spread information, because our political media is pathetic.





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