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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Blue Collar Gal

By: Carlton Huffman

You couldn’t have convinced me of it no matter what you tried. To think that Hillary Clinton could go from raging feminist to an avenging angel for religious, gun owning, blue collar Democrats boggles the mind. Just one year ago in talks with friends and colleagues I heard not once but several times over, speculation as to whether Hillary Clinton was indeed the Antichrist. Now, after an extended battle with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has traded in her blue state image for a blue collar and win, loose, or draw, has accomplished something very rare in American politics.
Ever since Hillary’s debut to the national scene in 1992 she has not been an endearing figure to the folks. For those not in the Beltway/New York City centered world, Hillary Clinton was the antithesis of Middle America. From the day she sneered at the thought of staying home and baking cookies to her paranoid rant on a “vast right wing conspiracy” Hillary Clinton was accurately seen as a scheming, calculating, liberal cause championing, would be gun grabbing blue state politician. From gun control to healthcare, from illegal immigration to homosexual causes, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the perfect bete noire for the Republicans heading into 2008.
Then however Barack Hussein Obama happened. Bringing in the young voters and college educated voters calling for change that eluded Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and bringing along the black vote that liberal champions Gary Hart and Howard Dean never captured, Obama rocked the Clinton machine to its core. Dodging the bullet on Super Tuesday and left on a 12 state loosing streak, Hillary Clinton’s only hope was appealing to the one group that had eluded her all along, the working class white voters or Reagan Democrats. By bashing Obama for his seeming duplicity on NAFTA, railing against his elitist attitude towards small town America, and capitalizing on Obama’s own problems stemming from his 20 year relationship with his rabidly racist pastor Jeremiah Wright has seen Hillary become the champion of the very people who once despised her. She spoke and Ohio and Texas listened by saving her candidacy with white, working class, blue collar voters carrying her to victory.
In Pennsylvania Hillary completed her transformation that began in the fields of Ohio and the plains of Texas on March 4. While Obama won the votes of those who never attended church, Hillary won those of all groups who at least went to church for Easter and Christmas to those in the pews every Sunday. The same gun owners in Pennsylvania who were probably horrified by her calls for gun control in the last days of her husband’s presidency helped complete her 10 point rout of Obama in the Keystone State with 63% of their votes and making Hillary the Blue Collar Gal.
Hillary’s journey now brings her to the capitol of ACC basketball and barbecue. While she faces an uphill battle in the same Democratic field that served up Harvey Gantt to be beaten by Jesse Helms, she has a chance. With King of the Hill Easley at her side and Obama still unable to shake off Reverend Wright, Hillary can still put up a fight in Carolina and keep this race going to Denver. Republicans would do well now to work to recapture the votes of these blue collar Democrats who gave the Republicans the keys to the White House with only two interruptions from 1968 on. If not, they might as well let Bubba and his newly reinvented Blue Collar Gal pick out the curtains in the Oval Office again.

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