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Tuesday
Jun282016

A Trip Through the Upper Midwest

I had intended to write about either the right mindset to approach the development of a Career Plan B, or about half full and half empty glasses, but I spent such a wonderful and fascinating 5 days in MN, IA, SD, NE, and ND that I'm going to share some of my many thoughts with you here.

There were many truly awesome (in the literal sense of the word) sights (a bit about them below) but most striking to me was the enormous distance I observed between life as I and my friends and clients live it in DC, and the vastly different reality lived by so many of the people I encountered on my trip.

In town after town along the way (and I made it a point of passing through and stopping in many) there was a palpable sense of hopelessness, reflected in the shriveled Main streets having fallen victim to Walmarts, Dollar Stores, and a bewildering variety of fast food outlets. I now understand in a way I didn't before why Trump (and to some degree Sanders) have done so well. Their voters are rightfully angry that their futures, and perhaps even more sadly that of their children, are bleak.

I truly believe that many of the privileged group who are reading this post can't understand the depths of the problem these millions of left-behinds face, and the extent of their anger. Their jobs, and indeed perhaps their entire industries, have evaporated, and they simply don't have access or the means to retrain. So they anesthetize themselves with fried chicken, burgers, meth, coke, booze, and cigarettes. It's easy to laugh at their obesity and their "cluelessness," but they've been screwed. Mostly not being their fault at all so please excuse my preachiness and try to understand them with a greater degree of compassion and hope/pray/work for their economic and, perhaps more importantly, emotional "salvation."

Highlights of the trip: Mt. Rushmore and the entire Black Hills region of South Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (with its wild horses, buffalo, prairie dogs, and magnificent views), Chimney Rock Nebraska, where the Oregon Trail, the California Goldrushers, and the Mormon migration all passed, the stunning architecture and gorgeous lakes of Minneapolis (contrasting with the devastated precincts of neighboring St. Paul), and the delicious 50 cent cup of coffee I had in Buffalo, SD.

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