White Christmas in a Red State
Spending the holidays in Northeast Ohio is, in a very real sense, like spending time in a different world than LA. It's quiet. Peaceful. Rustic. Cold.
And very interesting, especially to an outsider who has spent the better part of a year fixated on Ohio's role in the late Presidential campaign.
Now, Ohioans don't march around in lock-step, thumping bibles to the beat of Toby Keith songs. Conversations with their fellow citizens are not book-ended by a shouted "Viva Bush!". Town squares do not contain statues of a heroically slouching Dick Cheney.
They seem much like other middle Americans, or at least the stereotype thereof: slightly overweight Wal-Mart shoppers who instinctively distrust politicians, not so very different from coastal Americans (who are more likely to be slightly underweight Target shoppers who instinctively distrust politicians).
When you speak with them, some will volunteer the fact that they did not vote for Bush, that the election was stolen, because who in their right mind would vote for that moron, that thief? Others studiously avoid the subject of politics in any social situation, sidestepping the whole mess with resigned weariness, unwilling to tangle with the entrenched beliefs of their friends and neighbors.
But then there are the true believers, their eyes alight with visions of what a Republican majority, flush with "political capital" and unfettered by any need to reach out to Democrats, can accomplish. Regulatory relief. Tax relief. Tort reform. Fewer abortions. And as for gay rights... suffice it to say that they're against them.
Regardless, however, of what people say to a visitor from LA ("California? Seems like ol' Arnold's doing a pretty good job!"), the fact is that Bush did win in Ohio. Which, putting aside the paranoid fantasies of certain left-wing bloggers, means that more Ohioans voted for Bush than against him.
This is the cold, incontrovertible fact that boggles the minds of liberals everywhere, that leaves them muttering angrily into their pillows during sleepless nights spent reliving key campaign moments where the election may have been lost: Ohioans felt that Bush would do a better job than Kerry at running this country. This coming from a state that has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs under Bush. Who could drop the Buckeye as the state mascot, replacing it instead with the Ohio State graduate who flees West (ever notice the sizable concentration of Ohio license plates in LA?), whose state flower could be a groundwater pollution bloom, and whose state color should be the rust of its abandoned factories.
But this is also a state that prides itself (and rightfully so) on its blue collar work ethic. A state of farmers, steelworkers, dockworkers, and Browns fans. A religious state, yes, but not fanatical (this is certainly not Alabama). The people are grounded, and commonsensical, and not at all given to putting on high-falutin' airs.
Bush and his team saw this, and were better able to appeal to the innate character of Ohioans. Of the two priveleged, elitist millionaires who ran for President in 2004, George W. Bush was more successful in convincing Ohioans that he was the one who better understood them.
And, given the results of the election, perhaps he was right.