Warren Kent Vaughan, “who has struggled to keep a steady job and a home,” adorns the front page of today’s Washington Post, in a story on North Carolina voters. Vaughan is described as an ex-hustler, who is trying to register hustlers “on the street he once ran” to vote for Obama. Because Mr. Vaughan is also an ex-con, I hope he will not be voting himself. It is my firm belief that felons forfeit the right to determine who leads our country. But Kevin Merida, the reporter, makes Mr. Vaughan’s life sound so—well—innocent:
“‘It’s been a struggle, but I ain’t gave up, bro,’ said Vaughn, who was honorably discharged from the Army, got sucked into the dope racket, killed a man in a street scrap, served 14 years in prison, and on this recent day was tugging on his scraggly beard, work gloves in his back pocket. He was about to measure a window that needed repair, and then put in a smoke alarm, and then whatever. The Queen City is a low-slung, pale brick structure of 47 rooms and little charm. Renovations are underway, management says. The parking lot is nearly empty, and some residents keep their doors open so they won’t miss the conversations that may come their way.”
“Got sucked into the dope racket”—you’ve got to love that!”
Mr. Merida’s story is on the bluing of North Carolina, and he manages to make the existence of Pam Demarest, a McCain supporter, sounds just as trying as Mr. Vaughan’s:
“Demarest works full time as a nurse and teaches part time at a community college, while putting a son through college. ‘We’re barely keeping afloat,’ she said. Her husband lost his job as a printer two years ago and was out of work for five months, and that ‘put us behind and we’ve never been able to keep up,’ she said. Her eyes filled with tears. ‘He says he’s archaic.’ A husband who believes his worth has been drained from the marketplace? How does a wife deal with that? It was not that Obama was to blame. But her feelings were raw, and she didn’t know quite where to take them.”
A husband who believes his worth has been drained from the marketplace? Kev, you’re being a drama queen. The Demarest family has had to struggle—no doubt about it—and still is. Nothing is more debilitating than unemployment (unless it’s “getting sucked into the dope racket!”). But Pam Demarest doesn’t seem pathetic. She will, I wager, survive.
Merida doesn’t make the point, but I think that his piece shows a lot about what is wanted from this election—much of it being undeliverable. Some people want redemption—Mr. Vaughan—and some people want there to be jobs and the ability to get out there and support their families—I’d bet Pam Demarest comes in this group. Whoever wins, there will be disappointment.