To get it out of the way, I live in a poverty stricken mid-sized city in Massachusetts. We used to have a textile and garment industry, and now we do not. We’re a heroin overdose city, a wear-pajama-pants-to-Wal-Mart city. State and federal money props up our schools, our police force and our fire department. About 75 percent of kids in local schools get lunch for free.
We’re classic Donald Trump country, and he won the Republican primary, all right, but the Republican primary doesn’t mean much to us. In the end, the city voted for Hillary Clinton.
We benefited from all things Obama. Obama phones, Obamacare. If there were $1-a-pack Obama cigarettes, they’d be the favorite local brand.
And today, stupidly listening to very local talk radio, I heard a show sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, an institution that is Republican in a businesslike rather than a biblical kind of way. The Bible they can leave alone. The tax break, they’ll take.
The two local chamberites were talking about Trump’s oft-repeated promise to throw money at infrastructure. It was the Christmas list of the airwaves.
We need a new high school. We need a lot of new streets. We got potholes deep enough to support schools of fish. As I said, we’re on the tip of the needle when it comes to heroin, so we need plenty of anti-drug abuse money. There are a lot of old water pipes under the streets, and those need to be replaced. We have some intersections that flood four feet deep when it rains hard.
I blew out a big sigh of relief. This was the America I understood, the good old America that wants something.
Of course, you can say that my little city’s unwillingness to go whole chimp for the Trumpanzee means we won’t get much. The federal government is locked tight in the hands of Republicans, and they may not want to shower money on such a stubbornly Democratic spot.
Perhaps you’re right. The art of the deal demands you punish your enemies, strike them with your mighty tweet sword and refuse them every one of their pathetic, entitlement-fueled little dreams of new firetrucks and crack-less sidewalks.
But we’re not the only ones with needs. Out in the areas of the country that went solidly for Trump, there are mayors going gaga over the prospect of some new grade schools, a new water treatment plant, maybe a new municipal airport that doesn’t look like a 1952 bus station.
Oh, we want things. All of us want things. All of us have been promised things. Great things. Tremendous things. The things we have are a disaster, and the things we were promised are wonderful.
I’ve been a reporter for 34 years. I know how it works. Side street residents like myself grab a city councilor and choke hell out of his turkey neck until he agrees to do something about our mercilessly potholed street. The city councilor goes to the state representative who goes to the governor who goes to the feds.
We’ve been promised jobs. Factory jobs. We’ve been promised infrastructure and the end of terrorist attacks in America. We’ve been promised an end to a vaguely defined menace called “political correctness,” and we’ve been promised The Great Wall of America on the border with Mayheeco.
We listened. We voted. We electoral-college’ed.
I was a lot less worried about America after I heard the chamber of commerce radio show because it was the same old America, the one that wants stuff and will scream like a baby when the spot under the Christmas tree is bare.