Based On History, Unemployment Will Rise In My County If Trump Is Elected

My Hometown

Predictability is the backbone of American politics and two trends are certain to continue this election cycle in Preble County — a small, rural county in southwest Ohio — where I live.

1.) GOP Candidate Donald Trump Will Easily Carry The County

Of course, saying Donald Trump will win Preble County is like saying water is wet. Although, by no means a political expert, I predict Trump will carry 70 percent of the vote. I base the number on previous presidential campaigns which suggest we are politically moving to the right.

  • In 2012, Mitt Romney carried 67 percent of the Preble County vote.
  • In 2008, John McCain carried 64 percent.
  • In 2004,  George W. Bush carried 65 percent.
  • In 2000, George W. Bush carried 62 percent.

The only caveat, because of our strong Independent voter base, is Libertarian Gary Johnson. The last time I looked at voter rolls (a couple of years ago) we were divided into three groups with the following rough numbers:

  • Republicans — 40 percent
  • Independents — 40 percent
  • Democrats — 20 percent

So it is possible ‘what’s Aleppo’ Johnson could skim off five to ten percent of the vote. Regardless, Hillary Clinton will get about 30 percent.

Another factor convincing me Trump will outperform his recent Republican predecessors is the 2016 GOP primary. Preble (and Darke County to the north) joined 29 of Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties in choosing Donald Trump over governor, and establishment Republican, John Kasich as the GOP presidential candidate.

fredgraph2.) If Trump Is Elected, Unemployment Will Rise In Preble County

As the chart pictured above shows, historically Preble County’s unemployment rate has fared better during a Democrat presidency — and we need steady employment because as a county we are not affluent. This lack of affluence is a common bond shared among ‘Trump counties,’ according to columnist and Ohio University professor Thomas Suddes. He writes,

For the most part, the Trump counties have lost good-paying union jobs, in steel, manufacturing or mining, and what jobs remain for working people in those parts of Ohio, or what new jobs may arrive, pay less, have no security, and offer skimpy benefits – if any.

Preble County’s per capita wage is $23,603 — about $11 an hour. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which uses a different standard of measurement, pegs our per capita wage at $34,757 in 2014 (latest stats available)– or about 75 percent of the national average. As the BEA chart indicates, the downward trend of Preble County’s wages began in the late 1960s/early 1970s and ended in 2009/2010 during the Obama presidency when average wages began moving slightly upward.

Despite the upward movement, Preble County will forego a Democrat presidential candidate. (Yes, it feels a little bit like What’s The Matter With Kansas?)

What’s Trump’s Appeal?

When people tell me they support Trump, I wonder which attribute they like most — the fact he is not her or his sniffling since his policies lack substance.

Of course why he appeals to voters is anyone’s guess, but undoubtedly ranking near the top of the list are his ‘outsider’ image, his position on government/taxes — and, of course, how unfavorably many American view Hillary Clinton. Despite criticism (mine included) of Trump’s campaign methods, one American political concept he definitely understands — one championed by GOP strategist Newt Gingrich decades ago — is the candidate (and Party) that runs against the government, wins.

In Monday night’s debate, Trump bolstered his anti-government appeal by promising to slash taxes. In typical Trump fashion the cut would bigger and better than any tax cut in the history of mankind. He even promised to best president Ronald Reagan’s 35 percent corporate tax cap — by driving the rate down to 15 percent.

This is one reason I’m confident a Trump presidency will drive up Preble County’s unemployment rate.

Under Reagan’s economic policy Ohio’s unemployment peaked at 15 percent — about four percentage points higher than the nation. Nationally, the unemployment rate did not fall below 7.5 percent until Reagan’s final two years in office when concentrated government spending (i.e. the Keynesian economic model not Trickle-Down economics) — pulled the country out of a recession.

During the Reagan years, Preble County’s unemployment rate fared a little better than Ohio’s — basically mirroring the national trend. Preble’s unemployment rate during those years peaked at 12.1 percent in 1982.

Despite Preble County’s allegiance to GOP presidential candidates, the county experienced its best unemployment rate in the modern era during Bill Clinton’s presidency. When Clinton took office in 1993, Preble’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent. It hovered near the four percent mark during his entire presidency ending at 3.8 percent when he left office in 2000.


Localize The Stats For Your County

  • All the stats used in the final section can be found — and modified for your own county — by visiting https://fred.stlouisfed.org/.
  • The Columbus Dispatch maintains a database of Ohio’s unemployment rates back to 1967. Their unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted — so they will not exactly match the unemployment rates displayed in the Fred chart.
Categories: Politics, Preble County | Leave a comment

‘Wrapped In The Flag’ Offers Peak Inside John Birch Society

Wrapped in the FlagIn my life I have heard some strange theories. Three random ‘truths’ I’ve heard at various points in my life are:

  • During the late 80s/early 90s a coworker advised me that AIDs was created by a man having sex with a monkey ‘over there in Africa.’ (Hunters exposed to blood of chimpanzee introduced the disease to humans.)
  • In my teens I learned ‘we did not land on the moon’ that was all ‘staged in Hollywood.’ (I’ll let Buzz Aldrin address that one.)
  • As my 10-year-old self stood nearby, a John Birch Society supporter explained to my father how the Communists were going to create Districts (instead of states) when they took over the country.

So, somewhere along the way I became interested in why people believe what they do. This interest led me to Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America’s Radical Right by Claire Conner.

View From The Inside

In Wrapped, Conner tells the story of the John Birch Society from the inside out. Her parents were beginning members of the organization and her father, in his leadership role, rubbed shoulders with JBS leaders — including founder Bob Welch.

Although Conner’s book is an autobiography since she had interaction with so many JBS members the reader gets an intimate view of the minds and ideas that shaped the movement. The book’s greatest accomplish is the documentation of her parents’ paranoia, bizarre beliefs and behaviors (which inflicted a lot of pain in the her personal life) but it also puts into perspective the role various politicians played in pushing the country to the far Right.

Progress An Affront To American Exceptionalism

Seemingly unimportant events in the author’s life take on a sinister tone when interpreted by her parents. One example is when Conner learns, as a 12-year-old seventh grade Catholic school student, that in the 1930s ‘farms in Sweden had electricity in their barns before most farms in the U.S.’ When she tells her parents this bit of trivia, her father overreacts seeing it as an attack on Americanism. He says,

“What in God’s name are you talking about? Sweden? Sweden in a socialist country. One of the worst in the world.”

As she points out in the book, by 1930, 50 percent of Sweden’s farms had electricity compared to three percent in the U.S. South and 13 percent in the Midwest. However, this fact does not deter her parents. They send a note to school explaining the truth to the teacher, placing their daughter in the ideological crossfire that culminates with her parents embarking on a ‘textbook war’ and the author switching schools.

Her parents later tell friends how their daughter was nearly ‘brainwashed.’

Persecution Complex

One of the scenes in the book that resonated with me was a story her parents told of a father in Spain whose son was captured by the Communists. In their telling of the story, the young boy is handed a phone and instructed to tell his father he will die unless the father does as the Communists command. The father tells his son to ‘Say your prayers, my son, and die like a true Spaniard.’

The boy is shot in the head, according to her parents.

Growing up during the 1970s, I remember an obsession with Communism. At an evening church service we watched a film — a 1950s-style PSA movie — which went into great detail about the build up of nuclear warheads in the Soviet Union. I remember hearing, from the pulpit, that when the Communists take over the country they will round up all the Christians. The Christians will have a choice to make: Admit they are Christian and be executed, or deny it and burn in Hell. I had nightmares of being captured and being forced to make the choice.

It was a heavy burden for a 9- or 10-year old kid.

Who Is Doing The Brainwashing?

But, my exposure to the conservative viewpoint was nil compared to the author’s. By the time Conner is 13 she is a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society — hardly an age when one truly comprehends what they are endorsing. And, although, her parents were concerned about their child being brainwashed by the ‘establishment’, in the end, it was them brainwashing her. They exposed a vulnerable child to a worldview at odds with reality.

As the reader uncovers, it takes years for the author to find a more sensible understanding of American and global politics.

Fortunately she does — and, just as fortunately, she chose to share her story of enlightenment.

Rated: 5 out of 5. Very well-written, heavily documented and an intriguing look into the life of one person coached in the ways of extreme patriotism.


Hard To Fathom

Wrapped shines a light on how factions of our society are drawn into a mindset of fear, but it is also a study in how people dig in their heels and believe what resonates with them. In many ways, the John Birch Society reminds me of the countless religious leaders in American history that have predicted the end of time. When the world does not end on their predicted date, though, their followers do not always abandon them, choosing instead to rationalize why the date was in error. They latch onto their emotional response, blindly following the errant leader.

For about six decades, the John Birch Society has predicted a Communist takeover — or that Insiders are already running the show. Yet somehow, America — and the organization — is still standing.

Pre-Donald Trump

Of course, you cannot read a book like Wrapped without relating it to the current Donald Trump phenomenon. Conner published the book in 2013 and, based on comments in the book, she began writing it somewhere around 2008. What is a little unnerving is much of the behavior she describes dovetails with Trump’s tactic of tapping into off-the-wall beliefs and fear.

Categories: Books I have read, Politics | Leave a comment

3 Films That Explore American Actions, Beliefs, And Hypocrisy

Understanding the American experience, for me, means listening to a ever-widening set of voices. I recently sat down and watch three very different approaches of telling stories about the American way. I highly recommend all three films, they are all 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion — but be advised that the last one, a comedy routine, does have content and language some may find offensive.

The Brainwashing of My Dad

In this independent film shot by Jen Senko, Senko seeks to understand what transformed her mostly apolitical ‘Kennedy Democrat’ father into an angry, Right-Wing radical. What she uncovers along the way are the people and movements behind more than a 40 year effort to move the country further to the Right. Although it could fall under a ‘kooky conspiracy’ theory-type film, the skill of Senko is she is not interested in some conspiracy theory, but rather is seeking to understand her father’s transformation. This means she interviews experts that understand how the media — whether liberal or conservative — works.

The movie does focus a lot of attention on Fox News and talk radio celebrities like Rush Limbaugh because those were two heavy influences in her father’s transformation. She even includes a clip where Limbaugh poses the question as guest on a TV show: Do I believe what I say — you decide. The scene reminds me of David Letterman telling Bill O’Reilly that O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck were all too smart to believe what they said.

If you are interested in how America became so angry, Brainwashing’ is a great place to begin.

Brothers on the Line

Large swaths of American Labor history go relatively unknown by the public at large and such is the case with the Reuther brothers, three men, largely forgotten despite their huge impact on the lives of millions of American workers. in this documentary, narrated by Martin Sheen, the story of Walter, Roy and Victor Reuther tells how the trio organized, united and improve the quality of life for many Americans through their work with the United Auto Workers union. In their lifetime they helped make it one of the most powerful unions of all times.

But as the film reveals it did not come without a high price. Two of the brothers were victims of violence as unknown assailants attempted to murder them. The violence, though, only seemed to strength their resolve. Their story is one of perseverance, conviction, hard work and the belief that every American deserves a fair shake. The film is available on Netflix, Amazon and other online sites.

David Cross: Making America Great Again!

Actor David Cross, probably best known for his role as Tobias Fünke in the sitcom Arrested Development, filmed a stand-up comedy routine at a Texas venue which was released on Netflix. As the title implies, the set is political and he discusses many of the asinine comments and beliefs that have besieged America in this presidential election cycle. His cerebral approach to the country’s failures on gun violence, racism, and the political process will not appeal to everyone. In fact, many will be offended when he theorizes why God allows our children to be murdered in mass shootings, but what he repeatedly and effectively does is shine a bright light on our collective hypocrisy.

For more recommended films click here.

Categories: American History, American Workplace, Labor History, movies

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