A reader submitted the following in response to my questions about Obama and white voters. Some of it's been covered by other comments here. But I found it interesting nonetheless:
Regarding why did Ohio vs Wisconsin whites vote so differently…. Wisconsin is Midwest heartland. Ohio dips down south into serious redneck territory.
I’m from Michigan originally, very Midwest place to grow up. My town was pretty blue collar, Ypsilanti, Michigan (dubbed Little Detroit by everyone who doesn’t live there). Ohio is traditionally considered a part of the Midwest. But my Midwest, the one where those “midwestern values” everyone hears about come from, is in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, northern Indiana, northern Ohio and northern Illinois.
I’ve been all through the Midwest states over the years and can attest that the southern parts of Illinois/Ohio/Indiana are very redneck and southern (i.e. racist, generally speaking). Trust me, as a white man who has been all over this country twice, the most racist place in America is the South. It’s not even close – the racism there is such that there’s barely an attempt to conceal it, unless a black man is nearby. I’ve been literally shocked at some of the things complete strangers have said to me there, and offended that someone would think it’s OK to use the N-word at all, much less to a total stranger. Never heard that sort of blatant, shameless racism anywhere else but the South.
I was surprised to read that you say you learned that not all whites thought of blacks the same way. It never occurred to me that anyone would ever consider that we did. I’ve always realized being white made life easier for me in this country – not having to put up with racism, bigots, etc – no way could I really imagine how it must be to live that from birth.
What I’ve come to believe, myself, about what being white in America has given me, is this – I have no cultural heritage, no history and no expectations (positive or negative) affecting who I am or who I want to become. I’m completely free of all of that. I don’t have “a people” to defend, to be a role model for, to represent.
The bad side of that is that I have no cultural heritage, no real history to appreciate, etc. This thought dawned on me when Tiger Woods hit the scene – at first he was the black golfer. Then, when he said no, I’m not only black… and he stressed that he’s a mix of several ethnicities, the backlash surprised me. It became evident to me that Tiger was looked upon with pride in the black community and it was seen, from what I read, as a rejection. I thought, man, that is some pressure. Guy just wants to play golf and all of the sudden the world expects him to be in the middle of race relations. I realized that that never ever happens to a white man.
Anyway, my main point kind of got away from me there, or maybe I got away from it…. just wanted to shed some light on Wisconsin being a good, Midwestern state and Ohio being a redneck state. Plus, I’m a Wolverine fan, so anything I can do to bash the State of Ohio is worth it.