Below is an excellent article by Patrick Thornton from Roll Call that articulates how part of America is being left behind. Rather than going to college or learning a new trade, millions of workers are waiting for a return to the days when America was a world manufacturing power.
I’m from the rural Midwest. I now live in Washington, D.C. All of this talk about coastal elites needing to understand more of America has it backward. My home county in Ohio is 97 percent white. It, like a lot of other very unrepresentative counties, went heavily for Donald Trump. My high school had about 950 students. Two were Asian. One was Hispanic. Zero were Muslim. All the teachers were white. My high school had more convicted sexual predator teachers than minority teachers. That’s a rural American story. In many of these areas, the only Muslims you see are in movies like “American Sniper.” (I knew zero Muslims before going to college in another state.) You never see gay couples or even interracial ones. Much of rural and exurban American is a time capsule to America’s past. And on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, they dug it up.
If mining, manufacturing and steel production come back to America, it will be a signal that we are heading in the wrong direction. Though these are vital functions, the are now sent off the lowest cost option. The near and far future are going to rely on manufacturing, but the highest value work will be done in the high-tech sector. These high-tech workers will require the best education. Instead of focusing on bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, it seems a much better idea to double down education in high tech: engineering, robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence.