What Is Wrong With Bitter
By: Mark W Adams

I'm bitter, just like the people Obama describes.

I'm bitter about the American Dream my parents and grandparents worked so hard to create in Northern Ohio go straight to hell during my adulthood.

I grew up on the outskirts, a township outside a small city of less that 50,000, five minutes from the Pennsylvania border. The small city was one county to the north of Youngstown, Ohio -- where the grand outsourcing experiment that sent our manufacturing base overseas began in the late 70's, doomed to be a harbinger of things to come once the supply-siders advising Ronald Reagan came to power. I voted against him, and against Jimmy Carter too in my first election.

But I didn't cling to religion, my family wasn't particularly religious. My dad was a big gun enthusiast, not a hunter but a collector, however mom had custody of me from the age of two and hated guns. Dad taught me how to shoot, but I never really got the bug.

Mom and dad both taught me not to be a bigot, mainly by example, but also not to be a xenophobe about immigrants. My maternal grandfather was an import from Italy who got along fine with my mom's mom, who can trace their family back to the revolution. Likewise on my dad's side, well ... you don't get any more "by-god 'merican" than a name like Adams, yet his middle name, Campbell, was a remnant of a proud family heritage of Irish folks who were nasty immigrants themselves not too long ago. To top it off Mom's second husband still spoke with an Austrian accent and fought on the losing side in WWII.

So I stand here as someone who never clung to god or guns or blamed our problems on outsiders -- yet I absolutely agree with what Obama said about the bitter folks here in the midwest. I'm bitter. I just didn't come from a family that gave in to the easy answers and scrounged up enough cash to send me to college, where I learned enough to know better -- and am doing my best to pass that on to the next generation.

Bitter, not for myself mind you. I've been blessed, or lucky, or have good karma, whatever. And by that I don't mean I've turned my good fortune into some kind of fortune. Just that the bills are paid, we're out of debt -- even the house is paid for. In today's economy that's as close as hard work can get you unless you win the lottery, and I don't waste my money on that.

Bitter, just like Erin Kotecki Vest, I'm bitter about what happened to my home town, to the people I left behind and who left it behind. Erin's from Detroit originally and moved 3,000 miles away because her town, like mine, is a ghost town compared to it's former All American City greatness -- the great town of my childhood.

The abandoned buildings. For Sale signs. The way the road goes from smooth to bumpy when you cross the state line. Boarded up windows, failed 'revitalization' efforts. Friends laid off. Friends looking for work. Friends moving to get work. Family leaving, family staying, family commuting to other states for part-time jobs and part-time pay.

Make no mistake, I LOVE my hometown. I LOVE the Midwest. I think anyone and everyone should live and work and grow in these cities and towns-but understand when I tell you that Senator Barack Obama is DEAD ON when he talks about the bitterness of residents.

Are you hearing me?

This former Midwest girl is telling you Obama is not being 'elite' or 'out of touch' -he could NOT be MORE in touch. He's LISTENING and understanding that many of us who moved away and many of us that stayed are angry, frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned, and UNEMPLOYED.

I love this area too. I think it's the finest spot with the finest people on the planet. I stayed on in Northern Ohio, inching west from Cleveland and now Toledo -- as close to Detroit as I used to be from Youngstown, and bitter has become a way of life all along Lake Erie's coast.

Obama nailed it to be sure, but he didn't tell the whole story of our bitterness, the bitterness I see on the faces of customers and clients and neighbors every day. Barack didn't talk about people clinging to drugs and alcohol take the edge off these bitter times. If I had to guess, the bars, take-outs and dealers see more bitter people than the ministers and game wardens of the area. But of course, most of the drunks and druggies don't vote -- and they're only bitter the day after a good binge.