March 9, 2016


Drive farther north on I-75, past Flint and Saginaw and into the scenic woods of northern Michigan, and you’ll find people who remember when the area was thriving. For generations, blue-collar workers poured out of city factories on Friday afternoons and headed to their cottages, which, along with defined pensions and new cars they helped build, were emblems of the 20th-century American middle class.

That era is gone—and along with it, for many Michigan residents, went the family cottages. What’s left is a core of hard-bitten residents who couldn’t be more disconnected from the political system.

In December 2014, I stopped by northern Michigan diner for breakfast. It smelled like bacon and wet socks. I sat at one table, scrolling through Twitter as news broke from Washington that the economy is on a supposed upswing. At four other tables sat five regular customers sharing a single conversation.

“I leave my Christmas lights on for two hours—tops,” said the waitress, flitting between regulars with a pot of off-brand coffee.

“An hour for me,” said the local cop. The farmer at the next table nodded his head, “That’s about all I can afford, too.”

In Washington and New York, people celebrate economic numbers. In Michigan, people number the minutes they can afford Christmas lights.

Omitted from Fournier’s reporting: “Under my plan. . . electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.”

UPDATE: From the comments:

Let’s be very direct here. These are exactly the people that Obama was promising to help out 8 years ago, and their lives have gotten worse, not better. This necessarily has to mean some combination of the following three premises are true:
1. Obama was disingenuous in his pledges to help the working class
2. Obama is ineffective/incompetent at accomplishing his promises
3. Obama’s policies themselves are the wrong policies to help the working class
A pretty unflattering picture even before we “embrace the healing power of ‘and.'”


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