Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bob The Musician from Ohio for Obama

Something tells me if everyone is allowed to vote, and all of the votes are counted, that Joe The Plumber from Ohio will become nothing but a laugh line studied by future political campaigns as what NOT to do in an effort to persuade the American people that you have a viable candidate for president.

However, I used to play a lot of music in Ohio, and I happen to love a lot of people in that state, most of them musicians, none of them black. I asked a couple of them to answer a few questions about this campaign so we can share with "the American people" how some other "hardworking Americans" from "the Heartland" think about Barack Obama and Campaign 2008.

Ladies and gentleman, meet Bob Starker, musician, of Columbus, Ohio, born near Killbuck, Ohio.


Confluence City: Tell me a bit about the town in Ohio where you grew up and the city in Ohio where you live. When you bid them up, what do you say? When you dog them out, what do you say?

Bob The Musician: Well, I grew up on a rural route in Ohio, between towns. My grandparents were farmers, my mom was a junior high librarian, and my dad was a self-employed carpenter. I don't know how liberal we were, but we were a predominantly Democrat family. That's my memory of rural America when I was a kid in the '60s and '70s; our grandparents had all lived through the Depression, and most of them truly believed that FDR saved this country from self-destruction.

My earliest political memories are of Vietnam and Watergate, and hearing my Grandma Lowe talk about what an idiot Earl Butts (Nixon's agriculture guy) was. The basic understanding I grew up with was that Republicans were rich, and Democrats were mostly poor and middle-class, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people. Us. I don't know when the working class started voting for the GOP and against their own interests, but I sure as hell never did.

What do I say about the place where I grew up? I still love it, and I think I was lucky to grow up there when I did (part of why I moved away was to meet and surround myself with people who didn't look like me or share my background), but now I don't know WHAT to say. I go home, and outside of my remaining family I don't know those people that are there now. I've been gone too long. I don't know what happened. It makes me really sad, because I think small-town people (like a lot of people) have been lied to and manipulated to the point that they almost can't see the truth anymore. I really hope I'm wrong.

These days I live in Columbus, Ohio, in the gayest neighborhood between the coasts. I love this city, and I love this state, and no matter who gets elected or where this country goes, I wouldn't move for the world. My family's been in Ohio since 1813, and it'll take more than a handful of suburbanites voting against common sense to uproot me or shut me up. Deal with it, Buckeyes. I was here before ALL y'all.

Confluence City: I know you as a musician, but what do you do for money, honey? How would you place yourself, socioeconomically?

Bob The Musician: In the daytime I'm a graphic designer/pre-press specialist. That means I sit in front of a Mac in a print/copy shop and make everybody's graphic dreams come true. Socioeconomically? I make $12 an hour, so I guess I'd be middle-class if there still WAS one.

Full disclosure here: I've been laid off four times in the last 14 years. I have never been fired. The Clinton/internet bubble didn't help me, and the Bush downturn didn't affect me until a year ago. I lost my job last October, and spent nine months looking for a gig. I've been at my current job for almost three months, and I beat out 30 other people for the position. It's HARD out there right now.
What has all this taught me? I don't fear black people, or Arabs, or Muslims, or SARS or the apocalypse, but old white men have taken my job away four times now. Jobs I was good at, that I wanted to keep doing. I'm voting for the middle-aged mixed-race man. Old white men scare the hell out of me, and I'm fighting every day to avoid becoming one of them.

Confluence City: Lifelong Democrat? Tell me a bit about voting and you.

Bob The Musician: I guess I covered this pretty well in previous answers, but I think of myself as more of an Independent. This will be the first opportunity I've had to to vote FOR a candidate instead of AGAINST one. Like I said, my family is mostly Democrat, but I know my dad voted for Ross Perot, and I think he was pretty into Ron Paul. I've been pretty disgusted with the Dems the past 8 years, but I'd rather speak my mind with my music and save my vote for someone I believe in, who might actually win. Sorry, Socialist Party. You got all my love, but job #1 for me this year is ousting the party of Bush. I can't believe, having said that, that I actually get to vote for Obama, who I honestly believe can bring a lot of us together and make a difference. Yeehaw!!!!

Confluence City: When did you decide Obama was your candidate? Why?

Bob The Musician: Four years ago, when he spoke at the Democratic convention, I called my wife and said, "I just saw the first black President of the United States." He MOVED me. He made sense ... he appealed to the idealist in me, at a time when I thought that part of me was dead and gone. I think he has exactly the mojo we need right now. This country is almost too sick to heal itself, and we need a leader to get us right again.

Confluence City: What are the temperature and tenor (mixing metaphors here) of the political talk in your friendship circle(s) these days?

Bob The Musician: I have to say, most people I know are pro-Obama, and not just my urban neighbors and co-workers ... I'm working on my 92 year-old Grandma, who absolutely won't vote for McCain, but was considering not voting. She's warming up. Colin Powell helped ... I'll keep you posted on Granny.

Confluence City: Do you know of anyone who fell for Sarah Palin - who switched their loyalty to McCain - after she was announced as VP? If so, do you know any of those who switched back?

Bob The Musician: I don't know ANYONE who ever liked her. The litmus test for me was my mom, who really IS a small-town girl with working-class, Protestant values. She can't stand her. We're in agreement that everyone in small-town America does know someone like Sarah Palin, and none of us like her.

She's the cheerleader in high school who wouldn't date you. She's the [expletive deleted] who buys up the 100-acre woods behind your property and ruins the view with her oversized house. If you stay in your hometown with her, you hope your kids don't hang out with her kids, because when they go out Halloweening, your kids will get arrested and her kids will all skate, free as birds. Worst of all, she's the kind of person who will embrace any ideology that will guarantee her a place of power and security, and to hell with anyone who gets in the road.

Honest to God, anyone who buys her line of BS deserves the world they get to live in if she becomes President someday. That includes having to deal with me, because as I mentioned before, I have no intention of shutting up. That being said, I'm trying to take it easy on the die-hard Republicans I do know, because I don't want anyone else to feel as awful as I felt after the last two elections.

Confluence City: Have you done anything to help Obama win? Will you do anything more other than vote for him?

Bob The Musician: There's a sign in my yard. I wear the button everywhere, I donated some money, and I wear my Obama 08/HOPE bracelet every day. I'll talk to anyone who'll listen, if it comes up in conversation (and it does, a lot), but I just can't get myself to canvass. I can stand in front of a thousand people and sing my songs, speak my mind, and never feel a twinge of fear, but the thought of walking up to a stranger's house and talking politics almost makes me soil myself. I really don't believe I could change a McCain voter's mind, because I can't imagine how they formed an opinion like that. How can I convince them that up is down?

Here's the thing: The last two election cycles, I have wished with all my heart that we had a candidate that made so much sense he couldn't be denied, couldn't be beaten. This time we have one. The people believe in Barack Obama, and if they'll just let us all vote, we can elect him and get on with fixing this busted up country that I desperately want to love.

Confluence City: What's next for you if Obama loses? If he wins?

Bob The Musician: If Obama loses, I'll keep doing what I'm doing now I guess... going to work, paying my bills, and wishing that my government was as good and true-hearted as the people I see all around me every day. My writing might get even more subversive and protest-y...

If Obama wins? Aw hell... I'm gonna jump on the green economy train and do everything I can to get my house, my neighborhood, my country and my world moving into the 21st century!!! YEAH!!!! My writing, in that case, might become even more anthem-y...


Well, there it is, Chris ... use as much or as little as you like, with my blessing. If you want me to clarify anything, feel free to ask. I've been drinking this whole time while watching MSNBC ... God only knows what I may have spewed...
MUCH love,

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Bob the Musician speaks the truth!