Famed reporter speaks on how small towns have big impact

“Well we live in interesting times don’t we?” said Ben Bradlee Jr, a prominent journalist who  spoke at the Boston Public Library to discuss his latest book, “The Forgotten.”

The book hit on themes such as the media Trump’s appeal to voters and looking forward to the next election.

Bradlee is a well-known journalist who spent 25 years working at the Boston Globe as a reporter and editor, supervising the investigation of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston archdiocese.

The book details Luzerne, Pennsylvania, a small county that had not voted for a Republican president in 28 years, until 2016 when Donald Trump was elected.

The county accounted for 60 percent of the votes that would win the now president the state. Barack Obama in 2012 won the county by five percentage points, and in 2016 Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points.

After the initial visit to Luzerne following the election, Bradlee visited four more times, hearing the stories of hundreds of individuals, 12 of those stories making it into his book.

“Coming from here and the blue state of Massachusetts, I was fascinated by this whole exercise I undertook and learned a lot. We live in such a bubble here, in the deepest of blue pockets,” said Bradlee.

The biggest theme in the book and in the small rural area was the closeness that the voters felt with President Trump. Bradlee spoke on the contempt these men and women had for Washington and the marginalization they felt in the new economy.

“I think the point that hit the closest to home for me is [the] sort of talk about how people from these areas really do feel that liberals condescend to them; people in my community definitely relate to that” ”

— Samantha Moyer

Especially with an influx of the Hispanic population, residents felt that their way of life and jobs were put into jeopardy. Bradlee detailed the idea that President Trump’s immigration rhetoric became real and attractive to these people who felt threatened.

“For them, the new arrivals evoked not just a warm yearning for a whiter yesteryear, but an inclination explicitly encouraged by Trump to make clear that they preferred to be among their own race,” said Bradlee.

According to Bradlee, oftentimes these citizens felt that the liberal culture from the northeast part of the country mocked them, making them resentful.

“I think the point that hit the closest to home for me is [the] sort of talk about how people from these areas really do feel that liberals condescend to them; people in my community definitely relate to that,” said Samantha Moyer, an editorial assistant from Pennsylvania. She lived roughly an hour away from Luzerne, so she was able to see the first hand the things that Bradlee described in his talk. “Trump sort of tapped into something that people felt but didn’t feel that they could openly acknowledge,” she said.

Bradlee went back after a few years into Donald Trump’s presidency and their opinions remained similar for the most part. 11 out of 12 said they would still vote for the president in the 2020 election.

Bradlee touched upon whom he believed could be a frontrunner candidate in the 2020 elections and what they would need to do.

“I would vote for a candidate who could run on a platform of how we can unite the country, or at least better unite the country,” said Bradlee.

Believing that middle-class relatability was what Hillary Clinton was lacking in the 2016 election, Bradlee said that Democrats will need to nominate someone with blue-collar credibility, someone that can relate to the middle-class life and a worker’s struggle.

“If you learned anything from 2016 it’s to not write off [Trump],” said Bradlee.

A presidential candidate no longer needs to win the popular vote, as we’ve seen several times throughout history. The President has a chance of being elected with only 45 percent of the vote and he isn’t too interested in expanding his base.

“I think Trump’s base in 2020 absolutely would be able to elect him again,” said Moyer.