Let’s face it – Barack Obama has run a great campaign, inspired a lot of people, and will probably win the nomination. So why is Hillary Clinton doing so well in Pennsylvania?
In short, it’s the economy, stupid. Much of Pennsylvania was once supported by enormous manufacturing operations who supported entire regions of workers. Pennsylvanians still haven’t fully recovered economically from the effects globalization had on manufacturing hubs.
In my hometown, some estimate that Bethlehem Steel once employed 40,000 people, and Pittsburgh has a similar history with US Steel. Those companies closed years ago, but the economic and emotional wounds run deep in Pennsylvania. As those large companies faded away, new businesses failed to take their place, and workers were left worrying about their pensions and the lifetime of health benefits they were promised.
Pennsylvania has been hurt further by NAFTA and other trade deals that are unfavorable to workers. Since 2000, we’ve lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs. Walking downtown in many parts of our state can be a sobering experience – where mom and pop stores once thrived and profits were recycled back into small businesses, big box stores now suck dollars out of the local economy.
Barack Obama has been talking about “his story” and what it means for America, but that’s not the sort of thing that resonates with Pennsylvanians. We’re a pragmatic state because we’ve seen all too closely how the whims of so-called “visionaries” affect real workers, and how plans from self-professed Smart Guys can wreak havoc on entire regions.
Honestly, I don’t have anything against Barack, and I’m kind of disappointed that Hillary hasn’t gracefully bowed out since the numbers are so clearly against her. But I’d like to see the Senator from Illinois stop telling me his story and start telling me about how he’s going to change the story for people in places like Pennsylvania.
Say what you will about her, but Hillary has done that and she’s done it well. She’s told us she recognizes that we got the shaft with NAFTA, and that to stay competitive we need universal healthcare.
Rather than show up in Philadelphia to give a big speech that most Philadelphians will never hear, Hillary walks around our towns and sees what has happened to places like Ohio and Pennsylvania. She’s told us that she’s learning the lessons along with the rest of us, and here in PA, that’s something we can respect.
When it comes down to it, I know they have just about the same positions on everything. I just wish Senator Obama would take some time out from talking about himself to let us know.