My Recent Trip to the Swing State of Ohio: An Obama Voter in a Family of McCain Supporters

  • Published on October 14th, 2008

Toledo, Ohio skylineI’ve long suspected I live in a political bubble in Northern California.  The debates I hear among friends is whether to vote for Obama, Nader, or McKinney. I’ve never even seen a McCain/Palin yard sign or bumper sticker, but I knew that was all going to change when I traveled to Northern Ohio for my grandmother’s funeral.

When my mother picked me up at the Detroit airport, and we drove to Toledo, she warned my cousins were hard core Republicans.  I promised not to talk politics, at least at the funeral home, as we drove by the Jeep factory which was temporarily shutdown to trim inventories of slow-selling SUVs.  At least, Chrysler plans to make an electric Jeep Wrangler at the Toledo Jeep Assembly Complex to keep the factory alive. I knew Toledo was a blue-collar town with close ties to the auto industry, and I expected the town to be for Obama.

As we drove into my grandmother’s neighborhood, I was heartened to see Obama/Biden signs dominated the yards.  I saw only one McCain sign, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps Ohio would be a shoe in, relatives be damned.  Then we went to my cousin’s upper middle class neighborhood in Perrysburg, Ohio. In this neighborhood of McMansions, every yard had either a McCain sign or a for sale sign.

When the subject of politics did roll around, no one in my family was talking about the environment.  My mother claimed Obama took campaign money from foreign terrorists.  My cousin’s wife feared he would socialize medicine. Another cousin plays in an 80s rock band and sings a song about Obama bowling.  I tried to bite my tongue, and it made me realize how little the average American understands what each candidate is about and how they base their voting decisions on false truths and slanders.  One relative did talk to my sister and I in a hushed whisper about how she was considering voting for Obama, and we discussed the irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate.  I know my McCain voting family is concerned about the economy, as my cousin had placed a spending moratorium on his wife; however, my uncle recently purchased a foreclosed lot and is building an eight bedroom house.  For some people, recession can be to their advantage.

I was shocked to see gasoline for $2.96 a gallon in Toledo, since I had just paid $3.89 in California before boarding my plane.  My mother’s rental mini-van was a flex fuel vehicle, and we filled up at the only station we could find with E85 for only $2.42 a gallon.  I wondered why more people weren’t driving these vehicles.

Ohioans are suffering, as Obama expressed in Toledo shortly after I left:

760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Unemployment here in Ohio is up 85% over the last eight years, which is the highest it’s been in sixteen years. You’ve lost one of every four manufacturing jobs, the typical Ohio family has seen their income fall $2,500, and it’s getting harder and harder to make the mortgage, or fill up your gas tank, or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month. At this rate, the question isn’t just “are you better off than you were four years ago?”, it’s “are you better off than you were four weeks ago?”

My hope is that Ohioans will vote compassionately this November for their working class neighbors.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play ( "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog: