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Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget

Beware the supporter scorned


Delaware County, NY -- If President Donald Trump is successful in getting key parts of his proposed budget passed by the Republican-led Congress -- especially his cuts in Medicaid and in the Food Stamp program — he is certain to face a rebellion among people in places that went heavily for him in last November’s election. Places like Delaware County in heavily Republican Upstate New York.

My family owns a summer home in Delaware County where we have lived on and off, mostly during the summer (or on weekends before it gets too cold) for the last 31 years, making us, if not native upstate New Yorkers, then at least accepted neighbors and friends of people who are.

A main street in Delaware County, NYA main street in Delaware County, NY (Google street view)

Tucked up against the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania just at the point where the East and West Branches of the Delaware flow together to form the Delaware River, Delaware County in the Catskill Mountains is an area that was hit hard by the deliberate deindustrialization policies of the last half century or so promoted by alternating Democratic and Republican governments in Washington, DC. Once home to myriad large and small saw mills that supplied, for example, ash lumber stock for the Louisville Slugger company in Kentucky, to medical equipment manufacturers and the like, and to the usual array of auto dealerships, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, vacation resorts, day camps, etc., the county saw its well-paying and often unionized jobs move abroad or, after passage of NAFTA, down to Mexico. And those companies moved away or shut down, so did many of the smaller businesses that depended on paying customers. Today, the poverty rate in the county is officially at about 25%, drug use and alcoholism, as in much of rural America, are both rampant, joblessness is higher than the state average, with a third of households classified as distressed, meaning that they are spending more than 30% of the median family income of $32,500 just to meet mortgage payments or rent (that's almost $20,000 a year less than the national median family income level and only $2000 above the official federal poverty level for a family of four!).

People here are white -- about 97% of them, in fact, according to the latest US Census. Half of them have at best a high school education. Don’t get me wrong. These are clever, enduring and savvy folks who know how to get by on incomes that are often quite low. They know how to grow gardens, how to fish and to hunt for deer and other game, how to fix their own automobiles and pickup trucks -- things that most urban and suburban Americans have entirely lost the ability to do.

They can be fiercely loyal to their community and generous among each other, but they resent outsiders, whether in Albany or the nation’s capital, telling them what to do or how to do it.

story | by Dr. Radut