Wednesday, January 17, 2018

'Enthusiasm for Trump hasn't diminished one bit' downstate

Chuck Griswold, as mayor of Fairfield in 2017, chairing a Rotary meeting.
    

     Saturday is the first anniversary of the inauguration of Donald Trump.
     Since my views on his administration should be familiar to the careful reader, I thought I'd mark the occasion by looking beyond myself.
     If you list Illinois' 102 counties by how they voted in the 2016 presidential election, at one end is Cook County, which voted 74.4 percent for Hillary Clinton. On the other, Wayne County, 275 miles due south, voted 84.3 percent for Trump.
     You might recall that one year ago I visited Fairfield, population 5,000, the Wayne County seat. It was pleasant and informative. In getting to know a small, tight-knit community, I met the mayor, the newspaper publisher, the bank president, the police chief. They were pretty much of one mind.
     "It's kinda nice having a nonpolitician running the country," said one retiree having his early-morning coffee at the Barb Wire Grill on Main Street.
     One year on, has anything changed? How do they assess the Trump presidency so far? Still kinda nice?
     "Most people I know haven't really changed their opinion of Trump yet," said L. Bryan Williams, who owns an insurance company. "He says a lot of cringe-worthy things that some of us wish he wouldn't. But, by and large, we're judging things by what we're seeing regarding unemployment dropping, the price of oil is higher, more job opportunities throughout America — sadly none to Wayne County yet."
     The price of oil being higher is a good thing around Fairfield.
     "That's important to us," Williams said. "A lot of people here work in the oil and gas business."


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26 comments:

  1. "The whole Russia thing is the Democrats looking for something that doesn’t exist. Let’s bury it.”

    "I enjoy his brash style. It’s refreshing.”

    Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Paris anymore.

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    1. There's also a Paris IL, but you must mean the one in France...which is to Fairfield IL as summer is to winter. I have a feeling I need new glasses...I thought the mayor's name was Clark Griswold.

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    2. It was just a reference back to yesterday's post about the hotel with the charming view in Paris. Following directly after that, today's return visit to Trumplandia seemed particularly harsh.

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  2. I understand that different regions have different needs and consequently different political views, but the good people of Wayne County deserve better than Trump. He's not the answer to their economic woes and he'll never be the president they expect him to be. He's a conman and a lousy one at that. A good conman is an effective liar. Trump's lies are so transparent one has to question his grasp on reality.

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    1. and what about the good people of Wayne county and their grasp on reality? must be something in the water. uneducated bigots no doubt, running around in their hooded capes burning crosses at night.

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    2. I'd say you're being terribly unfair, FME. Let's not start a civil war over assumptions.

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    3. The people of Wayne County are decent people and the "uneducated bigots no doubt, running around in their hooded capes burning crosses at night" comment is patently unfair.

      To live in a Fairfield you must convince yourself of something that can't be true - that the town will make an economic comeback. Once you buy into that delusion it isn't a great leap to start believing people who have a vested interest in nurturing that delusion.

      Some recent research shows that more that 50% of the average person's daily experience is virtual in nature rather than organic. That is to say, most of a person's daily experience isn't from interacting with people and nature as was the case with mankind historically. Personal reality is now formed from books, magazines, tv, movies, radio, web sites, social media and so on. All of those information sources consist of content created by other human beings, human beings who often have an agenda, content people rarely fact check. When social media began being used to gather data that can be used to target specific people with specific manipulative messaging it was game over. As a result, most people's psyches aren't an accumulation of their own experiences but rather a conglomeration of suspect virtual experiences.

      Most small town folks are lovely people, but they are easily led because of their overwhelming desire that their town will soon prosper - making them easy marks for people like Trump, a man who sells delusional prosperity - and has a huge infrastructure of fabulists and propagandists to close the sale.


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    4. Easily led (and conned) small town folk have been the stuff of American literature and theater for a long, long time. Two classics that come to mind are "The Rainmaker" and "The Music Man", both of which were Fifties hits on stage and screen. Unfortunately, "The Great Orange Pretender" is neither amusing nor fiction. Fido, I think we're not in Hollywood (or on Broadway) anymore.

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  3. None of the people interviewed gave one example of what he had done for anybody.

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  4. Yeah, indictments and guilty pleas are "nothing".

    Denial is strong.

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  5. They can't admit they were wrong or were fooled.

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  6. This summer I went to Tennessee to view the eclipse, also meeting people I work for and with that I haven't seen in over a decade. While setting up to watch the eclipse, saw a family playing a cornhole bean bag game. Had to say hi to fellow Chicagoans, and learned they had moved there several years ago. It was a common theme with the locals, people always asked not if but when I'll be moving out of Illinois. The point being there are other states with Trump supporters in the majority, benefitting from Trump's nullifying prior executive orders, and our Judicial Branch overturning Trump's idiotically destructive executive orders dealing with immigration. There is not much to be learned by focusing on a loser county in a loser state. Illinois is losing population for a reason, that being people have a tendency to emigrate from poopyhole locations. Wayne County has zero clout, they could benefit greatly if their oil fields were opened to fracking but Chicago politicians control Springfield and Trump can't help them. Of Illinois school children who live below the poverty line, two thirds live outside Chicago in places like Wayne County, all we hear about is how Chicago schools need even more state money. When Rauner talks about equality in distributing money for schools it falls on deaf ears. Next month the new tax tables kick in, ask them then how they feel about Trump.

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    1. "all we hear about is how Chicago schools need even more state money"

      The majority of schools throughout the state need more state money, thanks to our ridiculous policy of making school funding dependent on local property taxes.

      "When Rauner talks about equality in distributing money for schools"

      ...he's pitting one part of the state against another, which is all that "50% + 1 = fuck you" Republicans know how to do.

      "they could benefit greatly if their oil fields were opened to fracking"

      Sure, as long as they're willing to look the little drawbacks like poisoned drinking water and induced earthquakes.

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    2. Natural gas production throughout the United States is setting new records because of fracking. Depending on the local geological formations, a small percentage of areas have a risk for groundwater contamination. Geologists have gained knowledge in the last few years. Proper surveys can be conducted to determine where fracking can be done safely. Of all the acreage where fracking is done without a problem, earthquakes in Oklahoma are caused by fracking, right. Because they don't have so many obstacles, other states have growing economies. Illinois' method of arbitrary banning, or byzantine permitting rules are not helping our economy.
      It's been a problem in the making for decades. Prior to Rauner's Governorship school pension funds became underfunded because adequate payments were not made, and politically connected people were allowed to invest what money was available in hair brained schemes. Now the taxes are rising more and more to generate revenue to cover operating expenses, with more money diverted to pay pensions. The tighter the politicians squeeze the people of Illinois the more taxpayers will slip through their fingers. In any case our difference of opinion doesn't matter much, people are sick and tired of hearing excuses and are leaving for better opportunities in other states.

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  7. No disrespect to Neil, but I'm getting a little sick of these "Cletus safari" stories. I'd like to see more journalists take an interest in the economic anxieties of people in "Clinton country" and what they think about Trump's "antics."

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  8. The price of oil is higher. Hooray! I'm really happy for the people of Wayne County. Makes me think of a paramedic who is happy because there's been a disaster so there's more overtime available.

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  9. I grew up in a tiny downstate community, still have family and friends there, and have a fondness for the people of small town Illinois that will never go away. They are my people.

    But having seen so little of the world they can't see the obvious. Fairfield and towns like my hometown are never coming back economically. All the best and brightest will leave town for the city, along with all of the jobs that have already left. Their peak was a hundred years ago and the trend to urbanization has all but emptied them. The towns are doomed.

    Go to any small town in America and at midday turn the radio on to the nearest radio station. You will hear, as you would have for decades, Rush Limbaugh blathering about liberals. Not just saying their ideas are wrong, but that they are mental and moral defectives. You will hear that the only way to save the Republic, and by extension, small towns, is to elect Republicans. You will hear that Hillary Clinton is the devil and that businessmen like Trump are the only answer.

    I don't exaggerate. Midday in small town America is like a twilight zone episode. Go past any car window with a radio on and it is Limbaugh. It is usually the only choice on the AM dial. Somehow Rush Limbaugh has been the soundtrack for a decades long daily barrage of hate, contempt, mockery, buffoonery, and what passes for conservative humor. This is what has created countless Fairfield's all over the country.

    Any reasonable, thoughtful person not susceptible to magical thinking can see that Trump is a malignant, racist, misogynist conman and well below average businessman. Limbaugh and his peers have created pod people who see a savior. The human mind quite obviously is capable of believing anything.

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    1. Dennis, you took the words right out of my mouth! Every Trump supporter sounds exactly like Rush Limbaugh, and it is obvious that Limbaugh and his kind totally control the thinking of the huge underbelly of undereducated and unsophisticated Americans. And now we all know that Limbaugh et al have the power to control our national elections. We are looking at the future of this country unless Trump and the Republicans mess things up so badly that even the Limbaughs of the world see the light.

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    2. Dennis, I have been wondering how a President could be so inarticulate. Obviously you pushed him out the eloquence line and went through twice. Thank You. Neil, the paper should publish his post.

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  10. Wayne county is in a different state. Some of us northerners say it's like a whole different country that far south. Unlike Ted Cruz, who voted against Hurricane Sandy relief, I believe we should help the other 49 states and some foreign countries. Wayne county obviously has something in their water, possibly from coal mining, fracking or some such. We need to get those people some relief. What is the cure for denial?

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    1. Illnois, where I spent most of my life, is not the only state where North and South are like day and night (or in this case, benight). I have spent the last quarter-century in Ohio, or, as the southerners call it, Ahia, whose biggest exports are tomato juice, opioid addicts, and clouds.

      Go down along the Ahia River and it's more like WV or KY...in fact, it's often called "Oh-tucky"...and it becomes readily apparent to a Yankee why there was a Civil War 1.0...

      Unfortunately, and unlike Illinois, the southern Bible-thumpers in Columbus (and points south) control the state legislature and most of the state government...those same wonderful folks who gave us Kent State (we call it May Fourth here) and the mass slaughter of escaped animals from a private zoo a few years ago.

      Ohio's poverty rates are sky-high and there are also high percentages of undereducated and underemployed. Many of them drink and dope excessively. Ohio's population figures are either stagnant or shrinking, depending on whom you ask. It's a green, gorgeous, beautiful place. I love Ohio. It's Ohioans that I can't stand.

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    2. Grizzly you may have missed your calling. Unless you are already working as a travel writer

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    3. Actually, I do have something of a journalism background. Even have a fancy piece of paper that says I went through J-school. Did write a bit, but not nearly enough. That's now just a lot of water under a lot of bridges.

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  11. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that these folks' opinions are expressed in "a county that is 98 percent white," as Neil noted in the article from last year. Where oil prices being higher is a *good* thing for their economy, unlike elsewhere, and where those prices would trump our Maximum Leader's lying, racism, sexism, recklessness and incompetence in their evaluation of this presidency.

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  12. Who would have thought that North Korea's delusions about their Great Leaders would be surpassed by those stoked by Rush Limbaugh and company.

    john

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