Obama voters: Don’t call them stupid

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Around the country, as here at Metro Times, folks no doubt continue to share personal anecdotes about what transpired last week. An electric current of optimism surged through a vast network of people — from those who invested dollars and labor in the Barack Obama campaign to those who simply voted. And we’re still coming to grips with what it all: fearful that it will dissipate, or that the new administration will disappoint; hopeful that the promise of his campaign can be substantially fulfilled.

I keep turning to a story recounted by a good friend who campaigned in Jacksonville, Fla., traditionally a red patch in a red state. The early voting had already begun when she was canvassing in a racially mixed lower-middle class neighborhood of (mostly) weather-beaten cottage-style houses. No sidewalks, lots of dirt paths to front doors, lots of fenced lots with mean dogs. Of all the visits, an older, white-haired white guy in a rocking chair on his front porch made the deepest impression. He’d already cast his ballot, and he had plenty to say:

“Yup, I voted for that man,” he said, clearly referring to Obama. “Not telling a lot of people. My friends wouldn’t understand.” And then he said very clearly, “We’re not all as stupid as they say we are.” And he sat and he rocked a little more, and he said, “Yup, I know he’s black, but in my heart, I know he’s a better man. I voted for him even though I can’t tell the guys I bowl with. They would never understand — not all of them, at least.” And then, he repeated: “We’re not all as stupid as they say we are.”

I got to thinking of that again this week when I read Daniel Gross’ Moneybox column in Slate, headlined: “What’s the Matter With Greenwich? Why the rich vote against their economic interest.”

At issue is “the phenomenon of angry yuppies — who’ve largely benefited from President Bush’s tax cuts — funding angry, populist Democratic campaigns.” In many areas of country, those yups voted decisively for the candidate who joked about people earning more than a quarter-million a year, and promised to raise their taxes.

Writes Gross: “If the exit polls are to be believed, those making $200,000 or more (6 percent of the electorate) voted for Obama 52-46, while McCain won the merely well-off ($100,000 to $150,000 by a 51-48 margin and $150,000 to $200,000 by a 50-48 margin).” And he goes on to try to make sense of some specific hot spots of wealth that went for and against Obama.

I’m no economist, but maybe some of the rich are more concerned with whether Obama is the best man to protect their incomes (by keeping us out of a worst-case depression) than they are with the proportion of that income his administration will claim in taxes.

And just maybe it’s not all about the money. Maybe those rich Obama voters aren’t all as stupid — or greedy — as some say they are.


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