It's "do-or-die" day for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania today (thank you, understated media), and we're going finally see where Pennsylvanians fall in the Great Elitism Debate of 2008. Do they go with good ole beer and shot Hill, or do they go with the so-called liberal elitist, Barack?
Really, there isn't much of a question here. It sounds as if the state will go to Clinton, setting up a protracted fight through the summer, where the only winner will be John McCain. Thunderdome indeed.
The most fascinating part of the last couple weeks has been this discussion of elitism, that sense that you are better than the average joe. Well, not really a discussion, let's be frank. Last night I caught a glimpse of Glenn Beck while I was at the gym. The man flew off the handle with well-calculated innuendos, half-truths, and gross mischaracterizations in a vain attempt to style himself an everyman, just like his viewers.
This whole debacle, I think, tells more about where our country is right now than it ever could about Barack Obama or about Hillary Clinton. I don't think that people who have, or who at least have a hope or think they have a shot at something, really worry about elitists or elitism. You think you have a shot at something better, maybe even outclassing the people who try to make you feel inferior. In the good times, when we're secure, it's easy to feel confident and not really give care when someone tries to make you feel inferior.
In other words, in the good times, when someone acts like an elitist, it's really easy to either ignore them or tell them go fuck themselves.
But, in the bad times, there's no confidence. You can't make better for yourself, there's no opportunity. When someone says they're better than you, it stings because one part of you knows it might be true and the other part knows there's nothing you can do about it. For competitive beings like ourselves, its the worst feeling in the world.
In good times, what Obama said would have been taken for what it is: thoughtful and accurate political analysis. People do cling to their guns and their religion when times are tough. It's the same as people who cling to family or friends or food or work or even booze when a bad spell hits. It's comfort. Only, these aren't good times, and we all know it. Even if we didn't know it, all we needed to see was the reaction to Obama's comments. Eight years ago, before the bubble(s) burst and before the terrorist attacks, smart people everywhere said just what he said. Now, no one dares to.