A lot of smart people were wrong about this election. The poll-takers blew it. The talking heads didn’t see it coming. But if they had seen what I saw last month, they might have smelled it coming.
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I was raised in a rural community in northeast Indiana, a community that thrived when I was a teenager. Back in 1970, there were nice places to eat. The town square was busy and filled with shops. Parking on Saturday mornings was hard to find. There were 1200 students in the high school, and it had a thriving debate club, speech club, theater group, a big national honors society, and exceptional athletic teams. A good many went to college after graduation, but those who did not could get a good job at the local factories and quickly climb the ladder to the middle class.
I visited my childhood home in early October. And this is what I saw. Those factories are now gone. Boarded up. Shuttered. Today there are only 500 kids attending the high school, down from 1200 in my day. The town square was deserted on a Saturday morning, and half the storefronts are empty. There is a huge vacant lot on the town square where the tallest building once stood. People with means have migrated to prosperous cities. Those trapped there must be content with a job at the dollar store, or the pizza place, or the grocery store, or the Walmart 20 miles down the road. The well kept homes that used to line main street are in disrepair, porches sagging, some with plastic sheeting covering the windows. The restaurants that thrived when I was a kid are closed.
The starkest memories of that trip home were the people I saw as I walked the aisles of the one remaining grocery store. There were no happy faces. No smiles. The eyes willing to encounter mine had a haunting hollowness. They had the look of people who had been dealt the back hand of life, now enduring a burden they could not escape; their piece of the American dream denied.
The smart set will soon be sharing their brilliance about what went wrong with the Clinton campaign, or how the poll-takers missed. But if they really want to understand why Donald Trump won, they should go see what I saw. This county where I was raised, this county that often elected democrats when I was a kid, on Tuesday gave Donald Trump 75% of the vote.
Those people have not given up on America. They are begging America not to give up on them. I’m Jay Townsend.
Have questions? Hit the comment button. Or email me at [email protected]. My phone number is 845-458-1210.
Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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