Thoughts on Hillary

Remember back months ago when some people were saying that Hillary Clinton would do well in the “red states” because she “won over” Upstate New York?

During this primary election, it turns out there never really was a chance to test this theory, since she was blindsided from the (supposed) left. But I don’t know if it ever would have held water anyway.

Upstate New York was starstruck. Or maybe a better metaphor would be the image of a hungry tiger in a cage. Upstate voters spend their entire political existence, on the national stage anyway, being overshadowed (if not crushed) under NYC’s heavy demographic weight. When a political newcomer arrives from outside, they’ll snarl and rush the bars at first — but if you just talk a little gently to them, and give them (pork-based) treats, they calm down and accept your presence.

Perhaps someday, someone’s going to let them out of that cage (or they will escape), so they can be the unique and free-ranging political animal they’re supposed to be. Maybe it is too cynical to claim that Hillary Clinton was just there at the zoo to pose for carefully staged pictures. But she didn’t have to tame the poor beast; that would involve them being out of the cage (like the real voters in the actual red states are). I think that any notion that her throwing treats to a chained and essentially powerless electorate meant she was a real lion tamer, was probably mistaken.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Hillary

  1. sean

    yeah, exactly. i think a measure of the upstate condition is the heat spitzer’s taking for this $1 billion plan. no rational observer can argue that upstate hasn’t had the economic daylights beaten out of it over the past 30 to 40 years. but the essential argument against spitzer’s plan comes from those who say look, in the end, there just aren’t enough people up there to justify this kind of renaissance plan. what we get are even some of these nyc leaders saying: poor us. this shows we need to be our own state.

    maybe, thanks to a governor willing to advocate, the billion dollars will really happen. but the traditional upstate political philosophy, at least in terms of the legislature, has been to buy into the albany system to get a few treats, and that system demands political submission.

    i’ve always dreamed of some upstate leaders who cross the aisles and forge the kind of upstate coalition that could demand attention through its ability to, at the worst, slow up legislation … but the danger for the pioneers who tried to get it going would be facing the whip of those in control now. hillary was hardly going to come in and call for that kind of tactic against shelly and her other buddies from nyc; she was afraid to even say anything nice about mike bragman, who helped to open the upstate gates for her, after his failed coup (as opposed to spitzer, who showed up and stood in bragman’s corner).

    the trouble with forging a real upstate coalition is that it probably would offer no political future beyond the region; but the legacy, one would hope, might be reward in itself.


  2. Mrs. Mecomber

    There’s been discussion of dividing New York City and Upstate since the days of Alexander Hamilton. It isn’t going to happen.

    The reason there aren’t enough people in Upstate is because of crappy Albany/NYC policy, not in spite of it. The problem is the state keeps voting for politicians, and not statesmen. The expectations of the 60s and 70s that got us into this mess need to be thrown out the window, and we need less government, not more. But now that Upstate is weak and hasn’t the clout to pull free, I don’t see any remediation in the near future.

  3. Phil

    But until the Obama juggernaut started to roll after Super Tuesday and “momentum” created its own excitement, Hillary was doing her best business with the demographic that best fits upstate: less affluent, older, blue collar, less education.

    Whether Hillary just pocketed the votes by feigning interest or by genuinely earning them, she is getting “red state” votes. Of course, just not as many as Barack.

  4. Ellen Post author

    As for Upstate, political ways have to be found to increase its economic autonomy. (I’m sure Long Islanders have similar complaints…)

    The real problem is not even our “three men in a room” system, so much as the person who is purportedly the “leader of Upstate,” Joe Bruno, is (a) corrupt and (b) beholden only to his own district and (c) probably not even beholden to THEM.

    As for the beast-in-cage analogy, in a general economic downturn, the keeper stops coming with the treats. The beast either starves to death or finds (or notices) a way out of the cage.

    Phil: Does Upstate really have “less education” though? I seem to recall reading that Upstate, if taken as a separate state, would rank something like in the top 5 or perhaps 10 for states with the most college-bound seniors. But I don’t remember where I read that. I suppose it does not matter if the students don’t stay.

  5. Robinia

    I think you are right– upstaters have more education than people most other places.

    As for Unc Joe– he is beholden to whomever is buying, from the union bosses to his current host, The Donald Trump. Unc Joe’s idea of democracy is “for sale to the highest bidder.” You never really own Unc Joe, but he is sure for rent! This has worked out well for, say, folks who married into the Whitney family, but not for most upstaters.

  6. Mrs. Mecomber

    Agreed, Ellen and Robinia about Upstate education. Our educational system was hailed throughout the nation. It started to decline in the 70s, with the rise of the teachers’ unions and lowering of standards. That stereotype of “Appalachia” dies hard, however. And besides, to whom were the Federalist Papers written? To us educated Upstate NY farmers! ;)

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