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10/23/2018 7:58 am  #1

The Forgotten


The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America

The people of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania voted Democratic for decades, until Donald Trump flipped it in 2016. What happened?

Named one of the "juiciest political books to come in 2018" by Entertainment Weekly.

In The Forgotten, Ben Bradlee Jr. reports on how voters in Luzerne County, a pivotal county in a crucial swing state, came to feel like strangers in their own land - marginalized by flat or falling wages, rapid demographic change, and a liberal culture that mocks their faith and patriotism.

Fundamentally rural and struggling with changing demographics and limited opportunity, Luzerne County can be seen as a microcosm of the nation. In The Forgotten, Trump voters speak for themselves, explaining how they felt others were 'cutting in line' and that the federal government was taking too much money from the employed and giving it to the idle. The loss of breadwinner status, and more importantly, the loss of dignity, primed them for a candidate like Donald Trump.

The political facts of a divided America are stark, but the stories of the men, women and families in The Forgotten offer a kaleidoscopic and fascinating portrait of the complex on-the-ground political reality of America today.


We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

10/23/2018 10:18 am  #2

Re: The Forgotten

......the federal government was taking too much money from the employed and giving it to the idle.

The wealthy 1 or 2 percent did a masterful job convincing the middle class to tell the working class that the real problem to their plight in life was that poor people were dragging them down.


10/30/2018 12:45 pm  #3

Re: The Forgotten

So, I read this book and will offer some insights.

The book describes Wilkes Barre PA, and it's improbable change from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016.

Wilkes barre had is heyday first during the coal boom, and then later with manufacturing. Both of these things have moved on, leaving the county economically depressed. Per capita income, and employment lag behind both state on national averages. The opioid epidemic has been devastating.  Lastly, a wave of immigration, mainly hispanic has occurred in recent decades for newer opportunities. (being near the intersection of routes 80, 81, and 476 has led to the rise of significant warehouse industries). This immigration has changed the traditional all white character of the county.

The book consists of a series of profiles of Trump supporters, many of them democrats.

While coastal communities have benefited from trade deals and globalization, they have not.
Many people in the area feel that politicians have failed to look out for their needs.
Hence their characterization of themselves as The Forgotten.

A few observations.

1. While these folks do not like being forgotten by Washington, what they really really hate is being told that they have to change. This presents a catch-22 for politicians. 'Retraining' is pretty much a four letter word. They don't want to be told that education is the way out, or that coal isn't coming back. They don't want to be told about climate change. Multiple profiles describe the resentment of having such ideas shoved down their throats (Their words).

They fervently believe that simply by cancelling trade deals, and cutting environmental regulations will bring back the economy of the 1960s.

2. Economics is much discussed, but what truly animates each one of them without fail is immigration. I truly had not appreciated how strong the hostility towards immigration is among these folks. It was not accidental that Donald Trump's first issue was to trash Mexicans.

Well worn tropes about immigrants and crime are discussed by all. But even legal immigration is much disdained. Legal immigrants are criticized for 'Not wanting to assimilate'. They are contrasted with previous generations of immigrants like the Italians who assimilated without difficulty. (Here a complete ignorance of the actual history comes in handy. If you've ever been to Scranton and Wilkes Barre you will note how the old cities consist of a collection of separate neighborhoods,  for Italians, for Poles, etc. Each  with their own markets and their own Catholic churches. These stand in testament to the fact that assimilation takes time. Heck, my uncle wed an Irish girl and it was described by their friends as a mixed marriage!)

Nostalgia for the past is strong, and it involves both the old jobs and the old mostly white demographic.

3. They choose to believe a lot of things that are untrue, and easily disproven. Obama may be a muslim, for example.

4. They are intensely patriotic, to the point of arrogance at times. Several talk about WB as being the kind of place that still has Memorial Day parades.
Yea, well Buddy, we have Memorial Day parades here in Massachusetts as well..

5. They feel that they are the only ones to suffer from the economic downturn because minorities, and immigrants - in their mind get a free ride.

In summary, it is an interesting read. I would recommend it alongside Hillbilly Elegy as tools to gain understanding of this subset of the populace.

Last edited by Goose (10/30/2018 12:50 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

10/30/2018 2:01 pm  #4

Re: The Forgotten

Brings home the adage --- all politics is local. 

It is for them anyway. 

So while their jobs are NOT coming back, they can still ride the anti-immigration train.  


"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"

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