Janesville: An American Story
Amy Goldstein is a Washington Press reporter, and this reads like an extremely long personal interest piece. It follows a handful of Janesville residents from roughly 2007-2016 at a time when many of them felt as if their world was crashing down around them. Cities like Janesville all across America were once middle-class meccas. Places while although they were rural allowed hard working people to achieve the American dream with just a high school diploma. Most couples working at the GM plant could easily afford a mortgage, cars, camper or boat and probably a Harley in the garage. They could take a vacation each year. Basically the American Dream. They had the union at their back, and the town itself was like most small towns in that your neighbors would help you if you needed it.
When the GM factory shut down that all changed. Not overnight. Slowly like going down a terribly long slide that doesn’t seem to end. Most people thought the plant would eventually get re-tooled for another kind of vehicle. And so, the reality of their actual situation unfolded slowly over a decade.
One note from me: I’m not a Trump supporter. What I did take from this book is that many people who voted for him probably didn’t like him much either. What Trump did do is show up and promise the manufacturing jobs that they desperately want. Desperate times call for desperate measures. People in Janesville and other decimated manufacturing cities around the US do not want a handout. They are ready and willing to work, many went back to school to train for new careers that as it turned out also aren’t hiring. They need health care and other basics that should be a given in America.
I don’t know what the solution is at this point, but this story is heartbreaking, and it’s happening here today in America.
I read a DRC courtesy of Edelweiss. You can read it on April 18, 2017.