Pennsylvania Voters: Not So Comfortable With Obama Anymore

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


The media elites loved Barack Obama’s “Black and More Than Black” speech. They went bananas. They thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Pennsylvania voters? Not so convinced.

More than a dozen interviews Wednesday found voters unmoved by Obama’s plea to move beyond racial divisions of the past. Despite baring himself with extraordinarily personal reflections on one of the most toxic issues of the day, a highly unusual move for a politician running for national office, the debate inside taverns and beauty shops here had barely moved beyond outrage aimed at the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s refusal to “disown” his longtime pastor.

A day after the speech, local residents were left wondering whether Obama was candid in the last week when he said he hadn’t heard any of Wright’s most objectionable remarks, but then said Tuesday that he had heard “controversial” remarks while sitting in the pews.

Much more after the jump…

Glenn Peter, 54, a patron at Rauchut’s Tavern, said he heard finger pointing, not reconciliation. He took issue with Obama’s explanation that Wright’s observations of a racist America were reflecting the racial scars of his past.

“I don’t want to hear that you are blaming us for him saying this,” said Peter, who is white and worked at an auto parts factory until it was shuttered several years ago. Cutting ties with the church “would have been the best way to do it. That way, I could have been able to listen to him again.”

…”It was a great speech,” one man said. “But what concerns me is that on the website for his church, they say they are unabashedly Afro-centric. … The underlying message is they are perpetual victims and they enjoy the victim status and by proxy, me as a white person is their victimizer. And as long as we perpetuate these divisions, we will never heal.”

…Mitrea, the aesthetician on her cigarette break outside Beautyworx Salon and Day Spa in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, said she watched the whole speech. And before the controversy over Wright’s sermons, Mitrea said she was 55 percent for Clinton, 45 percent for Obama.

“Now I am 100 percent for Clinton and zero percent for Obama,” Mitrea said.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest