Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Obama Got Elected


With this post in my blog I will cautiously wade into the perilous waters of political discourse. With this I am breaking a promise to my mama. She told me to never discuss politics, religion, or football, and doing so, would assure that I would avoid many unpleasant discussions. But, I have on occasion, ignored my mamas good advice before.

Recently there has been discussion concerning a viewpoint that is presented by a web site (www.howobamagotelected.com). The basic idea with this right wing site is that the Media was totally in the bag for Obama, and thus swayed the voters. I do not know if this is the case. I do not buy into conspiracy theories from either side of the political spectrum.

Now, many of my stories are simple snapshots of moments in my life. Sure the "anecdotal incident" often carries little weight, when compared with national polls and statistics. But allow me to tell a personal story that may suggest a pathway that may have played a large roll and may indeed explain in part, how Barack Obama won the election. If my single anecdotal incident were repeated over and over one can see how important this may be.

It was just months away from the 2008 presidential election, and I was enjoying the last few hours with my son, before I am to drive him to the airport for his return to Iraq where he was to finish his Army National Guard deployment. He was wanting a haircut, one of those "high and tight" style like the soldiers maintain.

Now in my small town, there are only three barber shops. As we are short on time, I take my son to the nearest location. A little barbershop with a single barber in a neighborhood setting. Inside, there was a boy of about 12 years in the chair getting his mullet trimmed. An elderly gentleman in bib-overalls was in one of the waiting chairs. I assumed the older gentleman was with the young boy and did not look in need a haircut, so we assumed the wait would be a short one, so we took a seat in the waiting chairs as well. The barbershop is owed by a retired Navy man and there are cute little signs on the wall with politically loaded sayings. It was obvious we were in a "Republican" barbershop. This is great, as I assume the Navy guy, should be able to give a good military haircut.

It was impossible to avoid tuning into the conversation coming from the young boy in the chair. I swear! He was channeling Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly, and a bit of Glenn Beck all rolled up into one mess. He indeed was channeling the strange creature known as the Rushbillobeck.

He carried on with his conversation with a non-stop slam-fest of Barack Obama, Democrats and Liberals, with his barber, stopping frequently to listen to the points made my the young boy, while the old man nodded in obvious pride and agreement. At this rate this haircut would take quite a while and we were on a short timeline. I looked at my son, dressed in his BDU's and I could tell that he was not enjoying listening to the diatribe coming out of the mouth of the young Rushbillobeck. I needed to find a way out. So I lean over to the older gentleman and asked him if he was in line for a haircut. He stated, he was right in line after his grandson.

Well that was my opportunity to make an exit. I let the barber know that we had a pressing appointment and would have to seek our haircut elsewhere. Out the door and down the road we go to the next barber shop. My son is simply hoping to get a haircut, and get off to the airport to finish his deployment in Iraq, without any political discussion. But, you know how it can be in barber shops.

Next shop had a portly, white haired, elderly barber, and there was no waiting. My son asked him if he can give a good military cut, and the gentleman barber with his rich southern accent said that he certainly could. As the barber is prepping him for the cut, he is asking about his service. My son explains that he is heading back to Iraq. The barber thanks him for his service to his country. My son replies with a "Thank You Sir".

Some minutes go by while the barber starts trimming. Then out comes the question my son certainly did not want to hear.... Sooo.... who you gonna be voting for in the presidential election? I stiffened in my chair as I knew the fairly liberal stance of my son and I knew that he was an Obama supporter. I am bracing for what may come out of this barbers mouth when he hears my son's response. All of a sudden it was feeling very warm in the barbershop. My son paused a bit before answering, contemplating the conversation that would soon transpire, that he would simply rather avoid. This being a barber shop in a small town in the Bible Belt in the South, well... we rightly assumed this gentleman to be a Republican.

My son looked directly at the barber and stated, "I will be voting for Barack Obama". The electric razor became silent, the room was stifling, and the barber was silent. Then a short grunt came from the portly barber, and then he uttered the following very surprising words! "Yup, I think I am gonna have to vote for the "Nigger" as well." We were both totally taken aback by the response from this southern gentleman barber. No further discussion ensued, except for my son thanking the southern gentleman barber for the dandy haircut, and the barber thanking my son again for his service to our country. We were both cracking up as soon as we got into the car.

And Barack Obama won the election.... How did Back Obama win the election? Good question. From this single anecdotal incident, I witnessed an obvious "southern born" elderly gentleman, who was so very comfortable with calling the African Americans, "Niggers" that I would, and could not ever imagine this gentleman to be a vote for the democratic party, let alone for an African American! I wonder how many similar defections from the Republican ranks were out there?

Now whether this gentleman barber was fed up with the wars, or was tired of the tax breaks for the rich during war time, or one of the many other problems of the Bush administration, or was he simply put off by the Palin/McCain campaign, I do not know. But his words certainly hinted that the nation and indeed the south very well may be looking at a groundswell change.