Saturday, April 24, 2021


If you like this sort of deep dive, I recommend Michael Kruse's Politico story about Ohio's 16th District. The district's Republican congressman Anthony Gonzalez, is being challenged for 2022 by two MAGA loyalists who are angry about his vote to impeach President Trump in January. Kruse conveys the feel of the place and provides some evidence that Gonzalez might survive efforts to take him down (although I don't think he will -- angry right-wingers have long memories).

But like most white male reporters in the mainstream media, Kruse falls for the myth of what qualifies as the real America. He writes:
If Ohio can be seen as “the ultimate microcosm” of the country overall—“an ur-place,” “an uncannily complete everyplace,” “a reflection of the nation,” in the estimation of the Ohio writer David Giffels—then the 16th District could be considered a microcosm of that microcosm.

In winning Ohio twice, Trump took the district in 2016 with 56.2 percent and upped that to 56.5 last year.
Do I have to explain what's wrong with this?

Trump ran for president twice and lost the popular vote twice. If you want to find a state or a district that's a microcosm of America as demonstated by its political choices, you should look for one where Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden won.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote nationwide 48.5% to 46.4%. She lost this district 56.1% to 39.4%, and she lost the state of Ohio 51.8% to 43.7%. In 2020, Joe Biden beat Trump in the popular vote nationwide 51.3% to 46.8%, even as Trump won this district by 15 points and the state by 8.

The 2010 census reported that Ohio's 16th district was 94.3% white. Ohio was 82.69% white. America was 72.4% white.

The 16th district is what reporters like Kruse think America is. It's not what America is. America is urban and suburban as well as rural; it's multi-ethnic and becoming more so. Kruse's story is accompanied by many photos that look like shots from a John Mellencamp video or an ad for a Chevy pickup truck. But that's not America. It's only a part of America.

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