An Email From a NY-23 Native
A reader writes:
Some may think that Scozzafava's exit and subsequent endorsement of Owens will somehow swing the race to the Dems, but it isn't going to happen. Hoffman may be a Christianist carpetbagger, but there is no way in Hell the North Country (as it's called by those who live there) is ever going to swing for a Democrat. Northern NY is very beautiful, very cold, very rural, and slowly crumbling to dust beneath the crushing weight of high state taxes and few opportunities for gainful employment. Industry fled years ago, and the main source of employment is a massive Army base, Fort Drum. Everyone else just kind of scrapes up what they can find...retail work, food service, etc. The dairy farmers up there aren't making it. The only way it stays populated at all is that, in time-honored small town fashion, there are always those who are afraid to leave what they know, even if they suffer for it monetarily. And they do.
Rural Northern Ny-ers are, in general, hardcore rednecks and proud of it. They hunt and fish and have snowmobiles and ATVs that are nicer than their falling down homes. They are clannish, but friendly (yes, Yankees really are pretty friendly). They are...well, a lot like Sarah Palin pretends to be. I'm sure her jumping into the fray made a difference, because she appeals so well to the "us vs. them" mentality that has arisen so violently in response to the growing class divide in this country. It makes me sad to see exactly how far Northern NY been sucked into the delusional vortex of the Christianist Right. But then, I watched the area, and the people who live there, decline even as I was growing up.
So many have nothing. They're working on having even less. Drugs have gotten to be a huge problem, as in so many rural areas. But somehow, it's become easier to fixate on the so-called "culture war" than it might be to start looking at real ways to fix what's killing the area. Though at this point, I'm not sure there's really any fixing it. Industry has gone, and it isn't coming back. If it wasn't for Fort Drum, there would be nothing left at all.
Hoffman will be elected, and he will ignore them. But then, the people of NY-23 haven't elected anyone who gave a damn about them in a very long time (yes, McHugh, I'm looking at you). My mother, who is a die-hard liberal, actually spoke very well of Dede Scozzafava. Figures she'd be the one whose head ended up on a pike, figuratively speaking. I'm an Independent mainly because I think most politicians are pretty loathsome, but man, the Republicans are really starting to freak me out.