Friday, July 20, 2012

A rural politics vignette from Appalachia

This story by Jonathan Weisman ran in the New York Times today under the headline, "A Hunt for Split-Ticket Voters in Tight Virginia Senate Race." The dateline is St. Paul, Virginia, population 1000, in the state's far southwest corner.  The lede, which follows, suggests rural small-mindedness in Appalachian Virginia.  It also depicts a voter smart enough to know that Romney is a silver spoon kid who doesn't know anything about the working class, let alone have their backs.
Like so many others in Appalachia, Amelia Trent's vote is tied to coal, and when it comes to the coal industry and her economic future, Ms. Trent does not trust President Obama. 
"Obama is scary. He's a Muslim," Ms. Trent said matter-of-factly, but incorrectly, outside the small law firm here where she works as a secretary.  On the other hand, she said she could never vote for Mitt Romney.  "He doesn't know what poor is--or the struggling middle class, which is what we are around here."   
The story goes on to report that Trent plans to vote for former Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat Jim Webb is vacating; Trent says she will choose Kaine over Senator George Allen, the Republican trying to get that seat back, having lost it to Webb in 2008.

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