Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November's Election Will Capture America's Reality

By Mary Claire Kendall

One of the biggest shortcomings of this year’s presidential election is the failure on the part of official organs of public life, especially media and government, to focus on the reality of countless voter’s lives, where desperation is a frequent, if not constant, companion. 

This was not the case 80 years ago when Dorothea Lange captured, in her iconic photographs, the devastation of the Great Depression for all to see. The furrowed brows. Tattered clothes. Empty stomachs. Desperation. She was working on behalf of the U.S. Government’s Farm Security Administration. 

“Migrant Mother,” 1936 (Dorothea Lange, photographer).
Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection.  The media conveniently  
fails to report the real poverty in America today that rivals the Great Depression.

Today, we are almost entirely devoid of these tangible images. Instead, what used to be official repositories of reality in America are creating their own reality.  Just consider the farcical images they employ to try and sway American voters versus the reality of unemployed workers, including, in proportionately greater numbers, our former fighting men and women, suffering drug addiction and the like.  

But, come November 8, the voters, especially in the industrial Midwest and New England, will, it seems increasingly clear, provide a wake-up call and indelible image of what Americans are really feeling and experiencing in their daily lives – an inkling of which is provided in this report by British reporter Andrew Buncombe about the dying steel town of Weirton, West Virginia, on the border of Ohio. 

To his credit, Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has focused on the positive – what America could be, most notably in his slogan, Make America Great Again – while stating forthrightly how far we have fallen, and how much work will need to be done to get us back on track. And, come November 9th, and officially, January 20, 2017, it is looking increasingly likely, given recent polls, that he will be able to take his positive vision and turn it into reality as the 45th President of the United States. And, along with the Washington swamp, we will begin to drain the desperation from our towns and cities, plagued, for too long, by joblessness and hopelessness.

Shuttered steel mill in Weirton, WV. Credit: Andrew Buncombe, 
who writes: The steel mills today employ fewer than 1,000 people.” 
In their heyday, they employed 15,000.

Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer and author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends. She served four years in the George H.W. Bush Administration.

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