The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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The Midwest

Rich Galen

Monday May 14, 2018

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  • If Dan Balz, political reporter for the Washington Post, is not the most respected national political reporter in the land, he's certainly in the top three.

  • Balz has the look and manner of a college poly-sci professor. He would not draw a second glance walking across the Georgetown University campus, probably chatting with two or three enthralled students.

  • This weekend, the Washington Post published a 16,000-word report by Balz on the America that touches no major body of water: Not the Atlantic, not the Pacific, not the Gulf of Mexico.

  • It is about the America that grows corn and soybeans; that raises cattle and hogs; where a "wide spot in the road" is often defined by a church (or two), a coffee shop, a gas station, and a store that caters to farms and farmers.

  • The areas are generally referred to as the "Upper Midwest:" Parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Not the big cities, but the small counties, the small towns, and the big people who live there.

  • Balz' reporting began in January 2017. These were places where Democrats running for President for the past 30-40-50 years could rely on a strong majority of votes.

  • In 2016 they almost all voted for Donald Trump.

  • Western Iowa, for example, has never been Hillary country. As one person told Mr. Balz, she ignored them in 2008 during the caucuses that were supposed to propel her straight to the Democratic nomination and she ignored them again in the general election of 2016.


    As you might remember, Clinton came in third behind Barack Obama and John "Big Daddy" Edwards in 2008.

    Keep in mind that, according to the State of Iowa, "African Americans constituted 2.7 percent of the state's total population" in 2008. Yet, the Senator from Illinois - a Black man - got 37.6 percent of the Democratic caucus votes.


  • These places in Iowa and Minnesota; in Illinois and Wisconsin are not places where Wall Street hedge fund managers visit. They are places where a single plant might have employed as many as half the population. Morrison, Illinois is a town of about 5,000 people. General Electric had a plant there that employed 2,500 people.

  • Until it closed.

  • These are the people Donald Trump was speaking to when he talked about making America great again. "Great" in Morrison, Illinois, might have nothing to do with grand foreign policy strategies. It has to do with putting half the town back to work.

  • Immigration is a real issue in these counties and towns. The theory that immigrants do the work that Americans won't do is not borne out in places like Austin, Minnesota just north of the Iowa border.

  • Austin is the home of Hormel meats - the company that gave the world Spam. There was, according to Balz' reporting "a bitter strike in 1985" which led to, the Mayor of Austin told Balz "in the mid-'90s, we started getting the Hispanics in, and they stayed and they're here yet."

  • A man in rural Illinois told Balz, "People have jobs, but you have to understand something: A lot of those jobs have gone backward. They are still working but they went down."

  • Balz recounted another conversation:
    "The American dream of a house, the car that drives down the road that doesn't have something falling off of it, two kids and being able to go out on Friday night and eat someplace other than a fast-food restaurant is disappearing."

  • Many of the voters Balz spoke to voted for Trump in 2016. Many of them - perhaps most of them - will vote for him again, but there appears to be a diminution of enthusiasm.

  • These are people for whom being a bully or a braggart is not seen as a positive personality trait. Before an appearance in Cedar Rapids the "Gazette" wrote in a front-page editorial:
    "Mr. President, the campaign is over. You won. Now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to sell your policies Iowans have questions and concerns about your plans. They can't be heard over the cheers of a rally."

  • Nevertheless, as Balz wrote:
    "Trump spoke for more than an hour, luxuriating in the adulation from the audience. 'You don't want me to leave,' he told the cheering crowd. 'I don't want to leave.'"

  • Can Trump win re-election? Again, from the Mayor of Austin, Minnesota:
    "The short answer is yes, if that's the choice over Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Oprah Winfrey. But barely To me, he's kind of on a thin thread."

  • As we all learned on November 8, 2016: There's a reason we actually hold the elections.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the article by Dan Balz, and to the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

    The Mullfoto is from a walkabout in Old Town Alexandria, VA this weekend.

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