As I walked through downtown Youngstown yesterday, I passed numerous abandoned storefronts; winos, junkies, and other assorted degenerates were lounging in green spaces, sipping tall boys in paper bags, and annoying those passing by for money. It was depressing and sad to see a city in ruins.
But inside the Covelli Center, I heard a different story. Real estate values would come back, the roads would be repaired, the wall will be built, oil and gas wells would be dug, mills would reopen, and the citizens of Youngstown would all be working. At least those who wanted to. The others would be kicked off welfare.
To his credit, President Donald Trump delivered a rousing, campaign style speech for over an hour. He was interrupted frequently by thunderous applause; and occasionally by protesters who were unceremoniously dragged out of the building. But the crowd was putty-in-his-hands, and rabid in their belief that he would truly ‘make Youngstown great again.’
Sadly, Trump’s rhetoric has been heard for over 40 years from politicians who sweep into Youngstown for votes and support, and who then never follow through on their promises. Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton, and Obama have all delivered similar messages when it was politically expedient. Yet Youngstown continues in its long, slow, inevitable decline into oblivion.
Napoleon said it, and our Presidents have copied it: “Promise everything, deliver nothing.”