From the Left



Toxic Disasters Attract Toxic Politics, and Donald Trump

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

That’s not far off in a state whose once-rich industrial base has been largely devastated by social and economic change, particularly job loss in competition with overseas trade.

Among others, Trump was joined by freshman Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, a native of the same southwestern Ohio factory town where I grew up, the backdrop for his bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”

The county, like the rest of that northeastern part of Ohio, voted more Democratic than the state overall in 2000, according to The Washington Post. But like the rest of what used to be a bellwether swing state, it drifted to the right until it became reliably Republican, voting 33 and 37 points more Republican the two times Trump was on the ballot.

“The three of us, in our own ways, recognized instantly: This is fundamentally our voters, right?” Vance told Axios, referring to himself, the former president and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “These are sort of our people.”

Vance cast the disaster as a failure of big business — the Norfolk Southern railroad that operated the train — and the federal government, noting that their populist “wing of the party” is “very skeptical of each.”

While spilled chemicals were polluting the air and water at the national headline-making disaster, Buttigieg was lambasted on social media for talking about racial disparities as he failed to mention the East Palestine train derailment. Buttigieg finally visited the derailment site last Thursday.

Sure, media and politicians give short shrift to some disasters compared with others. But it sends the wrong message to seem more concerned about employment practices than a disaster that’s headlined the 24/7 national news cycles.


While the Biden administration works to play catch-up on this disaster, the Grand Old Party’s quick reaction, including Trump handing out water and McDonald’s meals, should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats.

That includes such loyally liberal voices as Joy Behar, who startled some of her audience on “The View” by declaring that Trump voters in East Palestine have nobody to blame but themselves for the toxic derailment because Trump “placed someone with deep ties to the chemical industry in charge of the EPA’s chemical safety office.”

True or not, it’s never good political etiquette to blame voters for troubles caused by the people for whom they voted. It’s better to win their votes by offering a better candidate. Our politics are toxic enough already.


(E-mail Clarence Page at

©2023 Clarence Page. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.





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