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Ohio, the Microcosm

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio–Coming home, or at least six hours from the place of my birth, where my parents still live and where I consider myself a true native son, has given me this opportunity to talk about Ohio without referencing the Cincinnati Reds or Bengals. Though it should be noted that after Bengals quarterback and honorary Pappu family member Carson Palmer threw a 65-yard touchdown to wide receiver Chad Johnson in practice yesterday, the latter apologized for his off-field tantrums and trade demands by saying, "This year is going to be the reinvention of Ocho Cinco. I owe Carson. I owe Coach Brat [offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski]. I owe Coach Lew [Marvin Lewis]. I owe [owner] Mike Brown. I owe every fan that I made mad. I’ve got to stop. I could talk all night. You get the point."

Apology accepted, Chad. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’m just that obsessed. But here at a town hall at a high school outside Youngstown I couldn’t help but think how misunderstood the state is. Unlike Michigan, which, with the exception of the Upper Peninsula, is centered solely around the auto-industry, Ohio is an economically diverse, even divisive state. Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland serve as min metropolis for the southern, central and northern regions. While Cleveland became Ohio’s answer to Detroit as the manufacturing capital of Ohio and the state’s Democratic, union base, Cincinnati became a beacon for white-collar conservatives, working in the offices of large corporate offices of Procter & Gamble and Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy’s.

As Gov. Ted Strickland pointed out this morning, as Ohio goes, so does the country. That’s because it’s a microcosm of the country, not a fly-over state whose entire aspirations and problems can be summed up in Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room or by anyone sitting behind a desk on MSNBC . The candidate who wins Ohio will do so by understanding he can’t play to one part of the state more than the other. He will have to understand the individual struggles with a message that can transcend geographical bounds.

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