Cast Aside Chronicles ‘Small-Town America’s’ Slide Into Poverty

cast-aside-charlie-claywellWhen I wrote Cast Aside: How Political Games Destroy The American Dream I decided to focus on the changing political mindset in my ‘neck of the woods.’ In the nearly 50 years I have lived in Southwest Ohio, I have watched the heavily Republican region fall from a thriving community to blighted neighborhoods filled with empty buildings and a growing drug problem.

At less than 40 pages, the book is a quick look at how a region can wither and die when poorly thought out national policies undermine the economic interests of the average voter.

Excerpt From Cast Aside:

Ronald Reagan knew how to make you feel good – that’s what I remember most about him. I was not old enough to vote when he ran for office, but I could sense that people were drawn to him. He wasn’t afraid to pull God into the conversation and people in southwest Ohio loved that – an actor who embraced Christianity.

Like Nixon before him, Reagan zeroed in on his image, message and the Religious Right. The one presidential campaign image credited with turning the tide against Carter was Reagan astride a horse with his cowboy hat and jeans on. Voters didn’t know, or maybe they didn’t care, that, just like a Hollywood movie set, it was all staged since Reagan preferred the eastern style of riding gear.

Reagan had an endless supply of buzz phrases and keywords voters wanted to hear. Two of the most popular were: We need a smaller government and big government is evil. The quotes and sound bites were eaten up by a hungry constituency oblivious to Reagan’s actions. Middle class voters failed to realize their income was being diverted into the hands of the few by many of the laws Reagan was sanctioning. But, Reagan was a master of communication and understood the old joke about tact: Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to Hell and make them feel good to be on their way.

His smile also made the trip feel worthwhile.

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