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There’s always something to howl about

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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  • 15 comments

    15 Comments so far

    1. James Boyer New Jersey August 31st, 2008 9:14 pm

      Nice little blog post. I liked your ending, but only wish somehow or other we could discard Mr. McCain & Mr. Obama for a re-deal as I think they are both wrong for the country for different reasons.

    2. Teri Lussier September 1st, 2008 7:42 am

      Hi James-

      I do have to say that this election has sparked interest for some people I know that typically don’t pay attention, so I think in that respect it’s positive. Whether or not I share anybody’s view, the more interest, the more ideas and thoughts that get thrown into the mix, the more potential there is for great things to emerge.

    3. David Shafer September 1st, 2008 8:56 am

      Nicely written. Home is a comfortable place to be, wherever it is. The national press aside, there are many places in the midwest that are dying (Flint, Southeastern Ohio along the river, etc.) However, this has been going on for over 1 hundred years. Some places die out, while other places expand, and then it reverses itself! Politicians pander and generalize, another long standing event.

      Now about Dayton, I find it impossible to imagine Dayton dying out as long as Wright Patterson AFB keeps spinning out high-tech workers, businesses, etc. I can remember in the early 1970′s having the entire swim meet computerized (Wright Patterson Flying Fish!) by parents working at WPAFB on main frame computers! Talk about being ahead of the curve! Having young swimmers hand their computer cards to each lane before the swim and it being fed into a computer with a computer print out of results minutes after the event was finished. So Dayton always means high tech to me!

    4. Don Reedy September 1st, 2008 9:45 am

      A quote from Martin Buxbaum about home says “Home is where we tie one end of the thread of life.”

      Teri, I just love your sentiment on this. As you may remember, though I live in Jeff Brown’s town now, I was born and raised in Youngstown. Now it seems that the only time I see Youngstown mentioned in the media, and particularly embraced by our politicians, is during the elections. (Yep, saw Joe and Barack eating breakfast in some restaurant in Youngstown just this past couple of days).

      I love my friends here, and it IS the reason I stay on here. But, as you so eloquently put it, Ohio is quite the ballroom. I, for one, am glad one end of my life’s thread is tied to Ohio……….

    5. Teri Lussier September 1st, 2008 9:51 am

      Hi David-

      >there are many places in the midwest that are dying

      Dayton is definitely changing, but I’m hesitant to start building the coffin just yet, in large part because of WPAFB. We haven’t figured out how to gracefully move away from some industries and how to court and woo different and emerging industries, but we will.

      Dayton, and Ohio, both have a rich history, and my experience is that younger folks who have moved away, or have no memories of “once upon a time in Dayton” are the most enthusiastic about all the positive aspects to living in a medium size city in the affordable Midwest.

      >I can remember in the early 1970’s having the entire swim meet computerized (Wright Patterson Flying Fish!) by parents working at WPAFB on main frame computers!

      Being friends and acquaintances with many who work at the base, this description makes me giggle. I would expect nothing less from anyone who worked at WPAFB in the ’70′s. ;-)

    6. jim canion September 1st, 2008 9:56 am

      Good post Teri. Lets Get Ready to Rumble…..
      The system of electing a leader on a national basis has seemingly served the country well throughout our history.
      A closer examination however shows a number of presidents
      who may not have been good for the country but were elected because they were able to get the votes of the so called independent voters by being the least undesirable candidate. It seems we may be in that same situation this year. Both candidates have positions that
      pander to a specific voter and those of us who see a lot
      of the bad in each have to make that same choice mentioned above. The country is so evenly divided at the national level that a very few people will determine
      who wins. Is a choice between Obama and McCain the best we can do?
      By 2012 we may be ready to embrace an online system that
      will empower the entire country to get behind a candidate that will not have to be put on a national ticket of a major party to win. This may be naive but wouldn’t it be nice to have a candidate that would:
      Really reduce the number of Federal workers by 10-20%.
      Put at real cap on federal spending and taxes.
      Expose and eliminate most pork barrell spending.
      Hold government workers accountable.
      Stand up to foreign dictators.
      Not waste time on Abortion, Gay Rights,( not that there is anything wrong with being gay) and many other issues that should not be handled by the federal government.
      Get out of the health payment business except for senior
      citizens. Health care is a different issue than payment
      for healthcare services but it could be handled locally.
      Plan ahead for energy independence. We knew it would come to this eventually. The argument that it takes to long is bogus.
      Or in fact do ANY of these…..
      No matter what your position on these items is, it would
      be nice to find someone who will live up to their word.
      And the real benefit would be that such candidates could be positive and constructive and specific and know their messege would be heard by many.

    7. Teri Lussier September 1st, 2008 10:06 am

      Hi there Don-

      >“Home is where we tie one end of the thread of life.”

      That’s lovely. I have an entire quilt made of Dayton!

      You and I did talk at BHBU about the issues facing our state and our respective cities. They are serious, complex, and not for sissies or the uninspired. I struggle with this daily- daily!- but when I read something like Ms. Langer’s article, it puts things into perspective.

      >I, for one, am glad one end of my life’s thread is tied to Ohio……….

      Me too, Don. Me, too. :-)

    8. Teri Lussier September 1st, 2008 10:15 am

      Hi Jim!

      Wow! A political manifesto- I’m loving it.

      And, yes, I’d vote for that. ;-)

      I see positives in both candidates, mostly because, like I mentioned in my comment to James, I see people who don’t bother to pay attention, suddenly paying attention. I do think that’s worth something. It ain’t perfect, but it’s more than I’ve seen in the past.

    9. James Boyer New Jersey September 1st, 2008 6:59 pm

      Hi Teri,

      Though I agree, having a much greater degree of interest in the candidates and what they stand for is a good thing, but and that is a big BUT, at least on the Democrats side at least I witnessed manipulation. Manipulation by the party, and by the press, and I think it was done for no only hate for one of the candidates but also because of the race issues.

      On the Republican side, well they were just demoralized and some candidates who may have been better decided not to run because they thought there was no chance that their party would win this year.

      Sorry to get all political on you, I just hate having the press decide for me who the candidate will be.

      Jim

    10. Teri Lussier September 2nd, 2008 4:59 am

      Jim-

      Go ahead, get political- tis the season.

      >I just hate having the press decide for me who the candidate will be.

      I agree. I’ve felt that way for years, I’m hoping (a girl can dream, can’t she?) that more people paying attention will force some of the bull crap off the table.

      It isn’t perfect by any means, but every four years, as I grumble on my way to the polls, take my place in the booth, I have to smile because in the end, it’s the best damn system for electing a leader that was ever invented, and how fortunate are we to be having these conversations at all, let alone in a public forum! Remarkable any way you look at it, and however anyone feels about it, it’s a remarkable thing for us experience over and over and over.

      I’m truly awed and thrilled by the political process, and your passionate response tells me that you are as well. :-)

    11. Geno Petro September 2nd, 2008 1:12 pm

      Anybody else running?

    12. Teri Lussier September 2nd, 2008 1:33 pm

      Geno-

      My personal favorite: Christopher Walken- http://www.walken2008.com/

    13. Tom Bryant September 4th, 2008 5:36 pm

      No comment other than to claim my undying love for Ohio. Born in Columbus, moved to the West Coast where I met my lovely wife, who is from AZ. I get back whenever possible, and have brothers and sisters in Columbus and Dayton. I’m raising a son who is a die-hard OSU fan, so I must be doing something right : )

      Nice post.

    14. Teri Lussier September 4th, 2008 8:57 pm

      O-H-I-O Tom!

      glad you liked the post. I hope you clicked over to read the Langer story- it’s so eloquently stated and I think any Ohio native can relate to her thoughts about our great state.

    15. Tom Bryant September 5th, 2008 1:42 pm

      Teri:

      I did read that at your suggestion; thanks for the prompt.