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Friday, September 16, 2016


In White, Working-Class Areas, Social Institutions Are Crumbling. That Decay Is Fueling Trump's Rise

Gary Martin retired last year as head of Ironworkers Local 420 in Reading, Pa., and financially supports three grandsons because his daughter is drug-addicted.

READING, Pa.—This coal and steel region was thriving when Gary Martin started working construction sites in the mid-1970s. Ironworkers jammed the local union hall, the union sponsored a big picnic each spring, and business groups were flush with volunteers for charity drives.

Mr. Martin’s extended family attended church, as it had for generations, in an area called Irish Valley in neighboring Schuylkill County. Two-parent families were the norm, and fatal drug overdoses were so rare that some county coroners didn’t bother tallying them.

No longer. Working-class neighborhoods, in particular white ones hit hard by the decline of the U.S. industrial base, are crumbling under the weight of deepening social problems.

Mr. Martin, 63 years old, retired last year as head of Ironworkers Local 420 but financially supports three grandsons—22, 21 and 19—because his daughter became an addict. The oldest grandson turned to heroin, too, and Mr. Martin and his wife got divorced in another casualty of the stress, they say.

“Rather than spending my retirement half-time in Ireland as I planned, I moved back to the house with a dirt-floor basement where I grew up to try to help raise my grandchildren,” he says.

Read the whole thing. It's why Trump is winning.

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