The view of flyover country from 8,000 feet

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

America’s elite doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in the middle of the country, and that could result in the re-election of President Trump in 2020.

It was evident last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, where I spoke as part of three panel discussions on presidential politics and rural affairs. Aspen is a beautiful place full of beautiful people at 8,000 feet who have very little notion how things are working down below.

The Aspen Institute is trying to do something about that, and I am grateful. It put a special push on rural this year as the coasts continue to fathom how Donald Trump won the last election. They have a long row to hoe.

I was the Tall Corn curiosity on a panel that included writers from the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker. They essentially accused Iowa of being racist for electing Trump and Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron. But what about Barack Obama? And, did you ever consider the role that abortion plays in Northwest Iowa politics, or guns, as opposed to whether anyone really cares whether a Mexican is milking cows in Sioux County for $15 per hour?

Not so much.

The Super PACs do not plan to play heavily in Iowa, Wisconsin or Ohio in the 2020 general election. More than one well-informed source told me that. Good luck to the nominee against Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak. She or he will need it. That’s the word from the big money. And, that means that the presidential campaigns are thinking the same thing. There’s a reason Joe Biden hasn’t come within a country mile of us. It’s not worth the effort. We’re a lost cause.

The New York Times said so. It sent a reporter to Ohio to confirm it.

This despite the fact that GM is shutting down in Youngstown. Last weekend the family that owns the local newspaper, The Vindicator, announced that it will fold in August. This is the paper that ran off the Mob and brought down Jim Traficant. The Brown family tried for a year to find a buyer. Nobody wants it. The city population has dropped from a peak of 160,000 to below 60,000 now. Its congressman, Tim Ryan, is running for president. You should have heard the crowd in Aspen laugh him off when he was talking about beating the Chinese in renewable energy and technology from the American Heartland.

The editor of the National Review had guffaws for Beto O’Rourke speaking in Spanish. I wonder what they thought in Las Vegas or Phoenix, or in a trailer home in Alta, if they were watching.

I tried to explain to the devoted liberal finance crowd that Dubuque, long a union Democratic stronghold, came home to unseat a Trump acolyte, Rep. Rod Blum of Dubuque, and install a daughter of a blue-collar household in the person of Abby Finkenauer as their congresswoman. I told them how John Deere workers are nervous about the trade wars and didn’t really feel a tax cut. I described how farmers are going broke and wondering where their export markets went under Trump. Working people in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio are worth talking to because they elected Trump, and they would vote for a Democrat who doesn’t try to grab their gun while shaking their hand.

Some of the candidates do get it. Elizabeth Warren. Beto O’Rourke. John Delaney. Michael Bennet. The only one taken seriously is Warren, and she is viewed primarily as a threat to the elite order. The BMW drivers can take comfort in the fact that their money won’t see Joni Ernst unseated, so the Senate will never allow Warren to actually tax the wealthy to pay for what they have taken from the rest of us. And come to think of it, Kamala Harris said after bludgeoning Joe Biden over race, she really doesn’t actually support Medicare for All after all. She might have consulted her donors and the latest missive from Aspen about how the proletariat actually loves monopolized corporate health care in Iowa.

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