It is a common misconception that Obama didn’t try to win over red states or rural areas or the white working class or older white rural voters or people who are 50 miles from a Target or however you’d like to phrase it.
In contrast to Trump–who is perfectly fine letting California get consumed by wildfires or NYC get overwhelmed by a pandemic (despite living almost his entire adult life before the Presidency in NYC)–Obama actually did care about places that despised him.
Obama was declared “bad for rural areas” by lunatic Tea Partiers who hated him the moment he took office. Obama literally could not win these people over no matter what he did to help rural America. All we heard is that Obama ignored flyover states and rural America, but that’s just not true…
—Cash for Clunkers…Who do you think this benefits? Most people in cities live in apartments or have ordinances that they can’t have junker cars on whatever small yards they do have. This is aimed squarely at rural Americans.
—Obama tried to expand Medicaid in red states, and most Republican governors turned it down. John Kasich took the money and was called a RINO.
—He tried to expand unemployment benefits in red states and (again) most Republican governors would not take it.
—He actively tried to give red states stimulus money and (again) most Republican governors acted like he owed them money, and would not take it.
—When Justice Scalia died, he went out of his way to appoint a centrist, older judge that even most Republicans liked in Merrick Garland…Garland was never even given a hearing in the 8 months between being appointed and the November vote. [And Obama did not REALLY fight as hard as he could to put Garland on the court, just sort-of accepting the Republican idea that the next POTUS should fill that seat.]
—He killed Osama Bin Laden. After Bush let Bin Laden escape through the mountains of Tora Bora (he let Afghan warlords that liked Bin Laden lead the charge instead of US marines), Bush then refused to even look for him in Pakistan. Then he launched two wars that killed thousands of Americans—many of them from the South or rural areas. You’d think rural Americans might appreciate Obama launching a stealth raid into Pakistan (technically violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and doing it without their permission) to get the bas****.
—Despite Obama’s reputation as being “bad for the military” that’s not true at all. As I mentioned, a lot of the military comes from red states or red areas in blue states. Bush started the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that got loads of soldiers killed. Obama ended the Iraq War, killed Bin Laden, and at least attempted to fight Afghanistan in a better way. He also dramatically increased the use of drones in hot spots, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan. This kept more American troops safe or as safe as they could be. Also, unlike with Bush (911) there was not a major terrorist attack during Obama’s time in office, and he kept American troops out of Syria.
—He bailed out GM in one of the most successful corporate bailouts in American history…Bush bailed out Wall Street. You’d think “real Americans” that love American cars might appreciate still being able to buy a General Motors car or being able to work at one of the last high-school-diploma only jobs in America that pays a great wage. Oh, and GM eventually paid that money back, so the tax payers didn’t lose anything either.
—Obama ALWAYS did the right thing when red states were in crisis…Trump has threatened not to send federal relief to the West Coast wildfires, got into a feud with Michigan’s governor during the pandemic (and told vendors to de-prioritize Michigan as a result), and doesn’t even care about his home city of NYC getting clobbered by hurricanes and pandemics. Likewise, Bush didn’t seem in any hurry to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina and debated rebuilding it at all. If a tornado hit a Southern state that hated Obama’s guts, there was NEVER even a question that Obama would still send FEMA and all the federal dollars necessary. And because Chris Christie said nice things about Obama’s Hurricane Sandy response (and even hugged him! The Horror!) that single-handedly killed his 2016 chances.
—Despite Obama’s reputation as being illegal immigrant friendly, he did care about border security. He deported more illegals than any POTUS in history during his first term. If he were a Republican President, red state voters would’ve been cheering for him.
—Went out of his way to hire Republicans…His FBI director (James Comey), his CIA director (General David Petraus), his Secretary of Defense (Robert Gates), another Secretary of Defense (Chuck Hagel), and even elevated Jon Huntsman (China Ambassador) a chief 2012 rival.
—Repeatedly tried his absolute best to compromise with red states politicians. In addition to all the things mentioned above (and not trying harder to fill federal judgeships that McConnell kept blocking), he spent a year meeting with Republicans to try to come to an understanding on the Affordable Care Act. This was a Republican plan (Bob Dole and George HW Bush proposed identical things, Romney used something identical in Massachusetts) that didn’t include half the things Democrats actually wanted (no universal healthcare, no “Medicare for All,” no public option, no Medicare age lowering) and he STILL couldn’t get a single Republican behind “Obamacare” despite endless meetings with them. Even today, Republicans in the senate have tried literally dozens of times to repeal it, and it even went to the SCOTUS where Judge Roberts was called a “backstabber” for not committing the judicial overreach of repealing it.
Speaking of which…
–It seemed like the biggest thing they had a grievance about is the Affordable Care Act, BUT when I would really talk to people about what they hated about it…things got very murky…
Obama Hater: “I hate Obamacare!”
Myself: “Well, I like it because it gets rid of pre-existing conditions.”
Obama Hater: “Yeah, I like that part…my wife had cancer and now they can’t take her off—BUT I hate everything else!”
Myself: “Well, I also like that kids under 26 can get on their parents insurance”
Obama Hater: “Yeah, me too, my son’s had a tough time after college—BUT what I really hate is them forcing people to buy health insurance!”
Myself: “Well, I like that I’m no longer paying for emergency room care for people that have refused to buy health insurance, so their cost is passed on to us.”
Obama Hater: “Yeah! I hate freeloaders too!”
There was never ANY real opposition to Obamacare except irrational hatred of the man who was pushing it. And that’s why you’ve seen Republicans really struggle to get rid of it since he’s been gone…they secretly LIKE it because it’s their old plan, but they can’t admit that out loud.
No, there was no way he was winning these people over. We know that because he did everything he could and they still hated him so much they ran to the “Birther” lunatic that peddled fake conspiracies about Obama.