The Presidential Race in the Country of Contradictions

love and hate on the banks of the ohio.

Obama sign and confederate flag, Martinsville, Indiana.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Barack Obama, 18 March 2008

As published by Ben Smith of (arriving to Culture Rover via Aidan Smith), two photographs from the most ambiguous region of the United States: just west of the Appalachian Mountains, but not far enough to actually be the Midwest, just north of Dixie, but not quite the North, sagging south of the Rust Belt, but as rusty as it gets, the Ohio River valley and the areas around it are a mixed and mongrel country. They are perhaps the heart of the heartland, the most American part of America, and yet they defy description. They resist the usual one-sided assumptions about where culture and politics meet.

Obama sign and black lawn jockey, Mansfield, Ohio.

That it is neither here nor there may, in the end, be what makes this region the heartland. It is everywhere and nowhere: red, white, and blue (and black). A place between, a contradiction in terms, whose mixed-up betweenness, whose willingness to wear its contradictions on its lawns, is what makes it the pulsating pump powering the American civic body.

  • Images: Martinsville photo, Marty Kady; Mansfield photo, unnamed Obama canvasser

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