Another Times article visiting Obama-Trump country to figure out what happened in 2016. Lehigh Valley was one of the hardest hits by the end of protectionism on American steel, with Bethlehem Steel shuttering factories and jobs in the 1990’s. Now its a regional powerhouse centered around tech, biotech, distribution centers, and the kind of manufacturing you can’t outsource or automate (yet). Products from peeps, to dog food, to ‘Boston’ beer are made in this corner of Pennsylvania where Democrats still outnumber Republicans 2-1 but where Trump won a critical victory in his upset over Clinton. Following the road map predicted by yours truly.
Trump was correct about one thing in 2016. As a candidate, he felt the pain of the people who saw factories shut down and jobs get outsourced. He also correctly criticized the Obama administration that the numbers on the macroeconomic side were masking chronic unemployment and despair in communities across the American hinterlands.
What Democrats need to do is talk about Flint, talk about Akron and Detroit, talk about the fact that cultural and familial breakdown And chronic drug addiction which was once racist my dismissed as a “black” problem is now a white problem too. That the communities in the hinterland that are doing better are the ones investing in immigrants, investing in health care, investing in education.
Ding him for signing corporate tax cuts and trade deals while breaking his promise to bring back the good jobs, make a health care system better then Obamacare, or invest in our infrastructure. We need to run on a federal jobs program for these communities, and we can integrate that promise with other priorities like fighting climate change. It’s the micro economy stupid, and the regional losers need to be heard and their stories need to be front and center in 2020. Every single one of policies have to be framed around helping them.