Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Youngstown's Crucible of Youth

My fascination with Youngstown's frontier urban experience should be obvious. I'm enjoying Youngstown as center stage in the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

But for every optimist here there are two or three hard-bitten cynics who dismiss the pledges and resent the politicians for using Youngstown as a showcase for economic distress. They remember the day Bill Clinton rode into town promising a Pentagon payroll processing center with room for 7,000 workers (it went elsewhere) and the time John Kerry set up his dais in front of a boarded-up building so the cameras would show Youngstown’s ugly rump even though there was a new state office complex on the other side of the street.

“We’re sick and tired of the empty promises and the same old story line about Youngstown and the mills,” said
Phil Kidd, 28, a blogger and community activist who has sold 10,000 T-shirts that shout “Defend Youngstown” over the image of a steelworker swinging a sledgehammer. “The problem is that this is a rubber-stamp Democratic area so they know it’s almost a guarantee they’re going to get our vote. We just have to hope that this time whoever wins won’t forget about us.”

For Youngstown and the rest of the Rust Belt, the upcoming election is about globalization. If Obama or Clinton do remember, then what should they do to help? Richard Longworth's new book "Caught in the Middle" is starting to get more play among Rust Belt bloggers. This should have been required reading for the primaries in Wisconsin, Ohio and even Pennsylvania (Longworth doesn't consider Western Pennsylvania to be part of the Midwest).

We bloggers should be debating how to best deal with globalization. I'd also like to read about reactions to Longworth's tale about Rust Belt woes, particularly how he all but throws some dirt on top of dying Cleveland. Along those lines, I suggest we try to get Richard Longworth to speak at the upcoming Rust Belt Bloggers Summit. John Austin at Brookings would be another great addition to our inaugural meeting. Even is we can't get any of the heavy hitters to attend, I recommend "Caught in the Middle" as the theme for our summit.

1 comment:

Blogs from the Midwest said...

Thank you for the link. Longworth's book is a great starting point for discussion - I would interested in sitting down with other folks who have read the book.