‘Folksiness’ and the Swing Vote That Shall Not Be Named

In the midst of the hoopla over how ‘in touch’ Sarah Palin is supposed to be (all her faux personal touches), I came across this speech by a steelworker at an AFL-CIO convention.

A couple of you might have noticed the image I use in the sidebar:
It’s from Norman Rockwell’s famous series, the Four Freedoms (this one is freedom of speech). I’ll turn the description over to driftglass:

He’s nervous. Really nervous.

By his tan and his hands and his clothes, you can tell he’s a working man. Everyone around him is wearing a tie; his collar is open.

Those are his remarks there in his pocket, which he probably spent a long time writing out, tossing out, and then rewriting.

He probably told his family that tonight he’s gonna go down to the meetin’ and give those Big Guys what ‘fer.

His wife was probably very proud of her man; he can swing an ax or drive a dozer, but he’s never been too good with words. Maybe she helped him with his remarks; maybe he didn’t want his woman to see him struggling with something that he has trouble mastering.
…now he’s there, in his laborer’s clothes, and all his neighbors are looking at him, and his wife and kids and the warm comfort of his home are across town.

He stands.

He grabs the pew in front of him for dear life; sinks his nails into the wood.

It’s something solid. Something real. He perhaps gains strength from hanging on to something hewn and boned and made straight and true by honest hands. This is something he understands in his skin.

This, and that come what may, he’s a goddamned American Citizen, and has every right in the world to be there, to stand, and to be heard.

When did we forget that?

His remarks – toiled and sweated over as much as anything he’s done at any job site – stay rolled up in his pocket.

He doesn’t need them.

All he has to do is plant his feet, stand straight, tell the truth like he sees it, and speak from his heart.

As someone who has roused a little rabble or two at a town meeting, I appreciate that sentiment. With that, I give you Richard Trumka, steelworker, who calls out The Swing Vote That Shall Not Be Named (by way of Oliver Willis):

And you’ll notice, not a “you betcha” uttered, either.

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9 Responses to ‘Folksiness’ and the Swing Vote That Shall Not Be Named

  1. Nate says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Mike.
    Mr. Obama, America has a lot of hope invested in you. They’re going to be counting on you very deeply come November — impassioned men like this, who believe in you, and the change you’ve promised to bring.
    Don’t break their hearts.

  2. Watt de Fawke says:

    Nobody was born a bigot.
    Nobody has to die a bigot.
    You can change.
    Put Obama in charge.
    (ex USW member at J&L in Pittsburgh, Carson Street works)

  3. Anon says:

    Wow. Powerful.

  4. Mark says:

    Very powerful.

  5. wrpd says:

    Vote with your head, not your hatred.

  6. Moopheus says:

    That was one of the best political speeches I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  7. Mark Centz says:

    Great speach. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jeanette Garcia says:

    Thanks for sharing, what a powerful speech. I am going to pass this one along.
    It amazes me how people can vote against their own interests. The whole premise of unions was to be a voice for the working man/woman. The Republican party has done everything in its power to destroy them, and any other safety net.

  9. Brian X says:

    Keep in mind, too, that the unions have been some of the biggest victims of wedge politics over the last fifty years — the taint of Mafia corruption still hangs over the Teamsters and the construction industry and so many people work for companies that are ruthless about unionbusting that it seems almost impossible that labor can have any real effect in this election.
    I hope he’s right about Obama. He’s pretty much the only reasonable choice at this point. But even with such a huge lead in the Electoral College projections, Obama’s still vulnerable to wedge attacks about abortion, faith, homosexuality, and the like. The local Catholic paper (The Anchor, published by the Diocese of Fall River, MA) hasn’t endorsed McCain, but has come out recently as virulently against Obama.

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