Frank Victor sits at the head of the conference table at Fralo Industries, the high-tech sheet metal manufacturing plant in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania, he owns with his brother Mike – who is now the president of Mercyhurst University – a prestigious private Catholic university located within the city limits.
Across from him is John Bauman, the president of the manufacturing company and a minority owner. Both men are highly educated, successful businessmen who have left this city – which has arguably seen better days – throughout their careers, but returned to invest and be part of pushing its renewal.
A process both men admit will be long.
They both voted for Donald Trump last November and were part of the movement in Pennsylvania and across the Rust Belt that flipped traditional Democratic counties like Erie from Democrat to Republican; a flip which helped push Trump over the top to win the presidency.
And they would do it again.
“In a heartbeat,” said Victor, 54, as he gives a tour of his factory that employs 68 locals in well-paying jobs, something hard to come by in America’s Rust Belt.
Victor and Bauman are the type of American voters who were hiding in plain sight for the American news media and political strategists to see – but didn’t. Not because they weren’t available, not because they would not have admitted they were going to vote for him – but because much of the media and political class, both Democrat and Republican, could not understand why they would, so they didn’t ask.
Twelve months later they still don’t understand why they did.
In fact much of the US is still stuck in a singular moment in politics; for the most part it is still November 8th, 2016 around midnight. If you voted for Trump, you are still excited and still optimistic about his presidency. If you didn’t? You still believe it must be illegitimate; you either still believe the only reason Trump won was because of Russian interference or because former FBI director James Comey’s late actions cast doubt.
Read the full piece HERE.