LeBron Swells Ranks of Ohio Tea Party

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Lebron's self-hyped campaign to abandon Cleveland accomplished the near-impossible: He roused the president, broke the laws of physics and sent Cavs owner Dan Gilbert into a Comic Sans-fueled rage. But that's not all. According to The Atlantic's Josh Green, LeBron may have even benefited Cleveland's local Tea Party chapter.

Green admits he's being somewhat facetious in "reading any kind of meaning into a celebrity sports event" but hear him out. In his time spent traveling the Gulf coast, he noticed how disaffection fueled the Tea Party movement there. Will Ohioans follow suit?

The unemployment rate is well above the national average, nearly 11 percent. The state's manufacturing base has been decimated, and those jobs aren't coming back. And now, suddenly, the biggest star in the state -- an economic engine in his own right, and a guy who probably single-handedly made Cleveland a recognizable sports mecca all over the world -- has forsaken its residents. And not just forsaken them, but utterly humiliated them by forsaking them on a globally televised ESPN Special!

Would you be angry? I sure would be. And I'd be that much more amenable to the Tea Party message that everything is going to hell.

Meanwhile, Akron, Ohio native Katie Stoynoff also forecasts a rise in public disaffection. In a column for the Huffington Post, she tells her fellow Ohioans to stop sulking—LeBron was never going to save the state:

This reaction confirms what I have said about this area for years. There is an ugly tendency among many people to blame others for their misery and put all their hopes in things and people who are unable to fulfill the expectations or, as in Lebron's case, are not responsible for the people's, or City's, wealth, success or happiness. It is the same mentality that blames government and elected-officials when the only thing to blame is the person's own bad life decisions...

I have lived in Akron, Ohio all my life. I am well aware of the economic depression that has gripped this area long before our current recession, but if all we really have to look forward to is the slam dunk of a basketball player, then we have much bigger problems then Lebron heading south for Miami. This situation should be a call for Northeast Ohio to take a real good look at who we are and who we want to be. Right now, the whole country is watching, and we are embarassing ourselves.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.