Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rednecks for Obama

No joke. It's a real organization, run by two real Missouri rednecks who really are for Obama, with a real website and T-shirts and everything.

The Nation found them at the Denver convention.

And then, just about thirty yards short of the first of many points at which DNCC passes are scowlingly scrutinized, setting apart The Invited from The Masses, I beheld a thing of great joy: Two older, white, baseball-cap-wearing, fellows, each holding one end of a red, white and blue banner that proclaimed: "Rednecks For Obama."

(More after the jump.)

Les Spencer and his friend, Tony Veissman (apologies for a possible misspelling) came all the way out from Rolla, Missouri -- the very sweet spot of America, if you look at it from a certain angle. "The population of the United States is almost a bull's eye for Rolla," Spencer says. "Actually, the last time I heard it was a steel mill about nineteen or twenty miles Southeast of us."

What in the world brings a sixty-year-old retiree nearly halfway across America to hold a banner, when he can't even get into the convention? "We just wanted to show our support for Barack Obama," Spencer says. "We think he's the right man for the job."


I ask Spencer why he and his friend chose to embrace the "redneck" label. "The reason we chose this is, several years ago, Mel Carnahan of Rolla, Missouri, was running for governor. And they had a debate, and his opponent called him a redneck from Rolla. And Carnahan turned it around on him, said, 'I'm proud to be a redneck from Rolla, Missouri,' and the rednecks got mad about that and they elected him to two terms as governor and Senator before he was tragically killed, you know, in a plane crash.

"We just kind of thought if we had rednecks for Carnahan, well, we'd have rednecks for Obama."


Some folks have even ventured to challenge his redneck credentials--after all, how could it be? "I've had people step out here and ask me what entitles me to call myself a redneck," Spencer says. "Shoot, I'm from the country, I was raised without running water in the house till I was out of high school, I went to a one-room schoolhouse, I've raised hogs, I've raised cattle, I've raised chickens, I hunt, I fish, I own guns, I own a boat, a four-wheel drive, and I like NASCAR. If that don't qualify me to be a damn redneck, I don't know what the hell does."

Are these Bubbas for Barack trying to make the salient point that redneck doesn't equal racist? "Yeah, that's the message we're trying to send out: Don't be afraid to vote for Obama."

Why are people afraid of him?

"I don't know. Some people just don't like change. And we've never had a president that was the skin color he is. But that don't cut no ice with me. I don't care if you're black, green or yellow -- if you're qualified for the job, and he certainly is."


For the thousands of elite Democrats who've stared at the Rednecks for Obama banner in wonderment this week, the message might be a little different: that maybe it ain't so bad being a 60-year-old white man from Rolla, Missouri.

"We're the same," says Spencer. "We're the same. We're all the same." It sounded a little bit like a prayer.

Read the whole thing, and order your Rednecks for Obama swag today!

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.