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Archive for August, 2008

Prom night in Dayton: Politicians pucker up, but I’m keeping my assests close to home.

Ah yes, it’s an election year. How do I know for certain? As Jeff Brown, who’s married to a native Ohioan- smart guy- recently twittered to me: “Ohioans’re gonna be very popular in the next 9 weeks. As usual, you guys are the babe at the prom without a date.”

Every four years we are courted and kissed by those same folks who forget we are here the rest of the time. I don’t welcome or enjoy the attention. I wish the federal government would forget we are here completely. I don’t want to be trotted out as an example of what went wrong with this or that administration. Don’t use Dayton to push your agenda and don’t use Dayton to make yourself feel good. Don’t do me any favors.

Dayton native Emily Langer wrote an article, Excuse Me, But I’m From Ohio, in the Washington Post today, accurately describing the strange political position in which Ohio, and the Midwest, finds itself every four years. In part:

Presidential candidates, in their efforts to look like regular folks, are among the chief purveyors of one of the most destructive stereotypes of Midwesterners: the working stiff who can’t work, thanks to the Rust Belt hemorrhaging all those jobs. During a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, 2004 Democratic nominee John F. Kerry set up shop outside a boarded-up building so that photos and television footage would show the city’s “ugly rump,” as the New York Times wrote, rather than the new office building across the street. No hard feelings, senator. The voters of Youngstown understood: It was easier for you to show that Ohioans needed your help if you pretended that they couldn’t help themselves.

Reporters do their part as well, stocking their dispatches from the Midwest with caricatures of down-at-the-heels factory workers and embittered waitresses. If you read enough of that prattle, you might start to wonder: Don’t these people have anything better to do than sit around carping about NAFTA? Don’t they know that McCain was just being honest when he said that some of Michigan’s vanished jobs won’t reappear? And by the way, don’t they realize that anybody who thinks Obama hates America is a fool? The answer to all those questions is, yes, of course they do.

Forbes.com would also have you believe that there is no hope for the heartland and recently put eight Midwestern places, including Dayton, on a list of America’s 10 fastest-dying cities. But they failed to factor into their questionable formulas and calculations the resilience of a population whose land used to be a frontier. Corn grown by Iowa farmers looks less quaint and more cutting-edge now that it’s helping run cars. Illinois businesses are making good money exporting computers and electronics to China. And somehow, the Indianapolis 500 keeps putting butts in the seats.

I can’t change the perception the rest of the country has of Dayton and Ohio. Nor do I really care to. As Larry Yatkowsky says: “there’s a lot wrong with lots of places but each of them are our homes and that makes them special.” We all have our reasons for living where we do. I’m in Dayton because the people I love more than anything else in the world are here, and that’s a damn good reason to be anywhere. I would argue it’s the only damn reason to be anywhere.

Ms. Langer writes:

My Midwestern parents are sophisticated enough to know that children have been venturing out on their own since the beginning of time, sometimes to look for someplace more exciting, other times because that’s just how life unfolds, hardly ever to turn their backs on their families and almost always to make them proud. I hit pay dirt the day I was born in Ohio, and if I ever move back, I’ll hit pay dirt again.

“I hit pay dirt the day I was born in Ohio” My god, that’s lovely.

I just started working with a native Daytonian who is moving back from a stint on the east coast. Why? To come “home”, to be close to family, to settle down and start their own family, right here in Dayton. I’ve been showing properties to a couple who are moving to Dayton so he can start a business. These people aren’t investors scooping up deals, these are “just folks” who are happily putting down roots, right here in Dayton.

While I can’t say I’m putting up yard signs all over this town, I can say that I’m still plugging along in this business, in this town, both of which should be belly up by now, according to news flashes all across the country. Boo hoo, poor poor pitiful me? Hell no! I won’t go! This is my home: I work here, I live here, I love here. And I’m happy to be helping other people find a home so perhaps they can experience the same sense of… I dunno- Daytonianism? Home? Ease? Contentment? Whatever it’s called, that intangible sense of ownership that we as Realtors help people achieve, is something I love to do, and whaddya know? That sense of owning a home is something that people in Dayton still desparately want to do. My guess is that people in your town feel the same way about owning a home.

Dear Mr. McCain, and Mr. Obama, while you are attentive now, I know how fickle politicians can be. I also know who I am, and unlike you, I know this place in which I live. I have a life to attend to, and believe it or not, it doesn’t have much to do with you. And now if you’ll excuse me, I prefer to dance with them that brung me.

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