US election: Letter from Canton, Ohio
If the polls are accurate, Canton, Ohio, is the kind of place that will help decide this year’s Presidential election.
The largest city in Stark County - the largest swing county in this most critical of swing states - it was once a thriving manufacturing centre bang in the middle of America’s midwestern industrial heartland. Only twenty-four miles up the highway is Akron, the birthplace of the storied Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
But in 2010 Canton was classed as one of the country’s most miserable cities by Forbes magazine, based on a host of indicators including unemployment and violent crime (it has since dropped off the top twenty and this year it’s Akron’s turn in the rankings). In a historical twist, the city was named after what was then called Canton, China. Today, we know it as Guangzhou, a bustling manufacturing hub in Guangdong province.
Talk to small businesses and residents here and it doesn’t take long for them to open up about how hard it’s been, and just how hard it remains. A florist in downtown Canton summed it up thus when asked how business had been over the last four years: “Horrible.”
Talk some more and it becomes clear that moving in lockstep with (and perhaps feeding off) the hard times has been a corrosive polarising force. A couple of conversations in and that rousing speech at the 2004 Democratic convention by the-then Illinois Senate Candidate Obama - “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America... There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America...There is the United States of America” - seems depressingly distant.
Instead, whispers abound about the motives of those who seek to unseat President Obama. Robert Capestrain, an ex-county commissioner who supports the incumbent, was blunt. “It is politically incorrect to admit that [there is racism at work in some of the opposition to the President], so nobody admits it, but it is below the surface,” he said to nods of agreement from his friends (all fellow Democrats) at a local grill yesterday.
On the other side of the political divide, you could pick up distrust of the campaign for early voting (which tends to favour Democrats). By some, it was spoken of almost as some kind of conspiracy against conservatives (who, to make another sweeping generalisation, tend to vote on election day).
This chatter is not scientific, nor is it in any way conclusive. But it does speak of a broken place - a broken place that will help make the next President.
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...
£40k to £50k pa OTE £80k: Charter Selection: My client, a leading profitable a...
£46,141 to £51,816: Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland: The PPS i...