Sometime between now and the election next week you are likely to stumble across the startling phrase, “Bikers For Obama.”
All due respect to Obama and Joe Biden, but it is not exactly a phrase that rolls off the tongue. McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, have actively tried to ingratiate themselves with the Harley subculture. Obama, not so much.
But yesterday the AFL-CIO (a name which echoes the long ago merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations) published a press release on its website announcing that:
“More than 30 bikers, most of them members of the Letter Carriers (NALC) and Teamsters, and other supporters joined a cookout and rally in Columbia, Mo., yesterday to show support for Obama and his plans to revive the middle class. After the rally, the bikers, calling themselves “Bikers for Obama,” headed off for a scenic ride to the state capitol in Jefferson City with Obama 2008 stickers proudly displayed on their union-made Harleys.”
Do They Love Us
What do you think? Do politicians love us? Do they really, really love us? Or do they just say what they say so they can get what they want from us?
The release goes on to argue:
“Union members and bikers understand that Barack Obama represents our interests the best. More than 700 union families depend on the Harley-Davidson plant in Clay County, Mo. But if John McCain gets elected, more and more of our bikes and manufactured goods will be built in China and India, not here in the U.S.”
Neither McCain nor Obama has had much to say during this campaign about the niche issues that are particular to bikers. McCain appeared at Sturgis and at an appearance in suburban Philadelphia with the cast of American Chopper.
And, a photo exists of Governor Palin laughing it up with members of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club. But then, everybody knows we make for great photo opportunities, what with our flamboyant facial hair and our shiny bikes and all.
Both McCain and Obama come from states without helmet laws. Both seem to recognize that high gasoline prices annoy bikers and other people who own gasoline powered vehicles and tools. Neither one has said a word about pollution or noise standards for motorcycles. Obama has replied to McCain’s blatant courting of bikers by charging that a McCain administration might just ring the death knell for Harley-Davidson.
Classic Campaign Tactic
Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, told the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune that groups like Bikers For Obama “are a classic campaign tactic.”
“They’re consciously formed by the campaigns,” Smith told the Eagle-Tribune. “It’s a classic tactic to find people not thought of as hard supporters of your candidate.” Usually they do not have any influence on the candidates. Typically, they are tools a candidate uses to deceive voters.
“Most of these groups have a habit of disappearing after that one day of fame,” Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire said.