Among the flood of books explaining how we got Trump, The Forgotten serves as an unintended companion volume to Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? ... The Forgotten reveals the political impact not so much of poverty as of decline ... This is not a big-thesis book, nor a deep dive into new facts or ideas. But whatever the Russians did or the Koch brothers funded, this searing portrait shines a light on the disheartened voters the Democratic Party forgot.
We’ve heard time and again, as the argument goes, that the mostly white middle-class citizens who supported Trump felt threatened by the nation’s changing ethnic makeup and the globalization of production. Why keep banging the same note? As Bradlee’s insightful work shows, it would behoove Democrats to keep listening ... You can practically hear Bradlee, whose previous books include biographies of Oliver North and Ted Williams, bending over backward to give his interviewees their say. He paraphrases much of their dialogue for readability’s sake, but there are stretches that feel like Studs Terkel-style oral history ... The key to Trump’s election, Bradlee concludes, were the voters who felt aggrieved by their economic marginalization, 'and by a dominant liberal culture that condescends to them and mocks their way of life.' In a book full of hard truths, that one might be the hardest of all.
There have been many books, studies and feature stories on the rise of the alienated white voters ... But letting these voters speak without judgment while also questioning their views about race remains a challenge for reporters. The Forgotten...trots this delicate dance by examining one key swing county in Pennsylvania—a state Trump surprisingly won. Using quick but intricate vignettes ... [Bradlee] allow[s] voters to speak for themselves and explain why Trump’s views on trade and immigration resonated ... With The Forgotten, Bradlee adds to the body of emerging studies about white Trump voters that is sensitive but honest amid a demographically changing, divided nation.
In an adroit journalistic enterprise, The Forgotten, Boston Globe editor Ben Bradlee, Jr. chooses engagement as he delves into the question eating at many of us since November 2016: Who are these people so reckless that they would vote to overturn nearly a century of liberal social engineering that ostensibly benefits them most of all? ... While there have been numerous high-altitude analyses of the debacle, detailed accounts like Bradlee’s that involve listening to Trump voters have been slow in coming, largely drowned out by the din of this administration’s scandals. It would be a mistake, however, to ignore this examination, and others like it, simply because the standard bearer of white, working-class rage turned out to be a Russian mole. The telling irony of a Democratic party apparatus that touts inclusiveness while summarily dismissing large numbers of blue-collar voters for their social views is not lost on Bradlee ... whatever the electoral results, Bradlee advises Democrats to heed the complaints of the forgotten middle American voters so we can mend our fractured nation in a post-Trumpian future, whenever that may be. Ben Bradlee’s deeply reported book provides an excellent place to start.
As Bradlee relates the findings from his in-depth conversations with Luzerne voters, he avoids stereotypes and pat answers ... A fascinating, ultimately puzzling deep dive into one county’s electoral behavior.