A catastrophic train derailment has unleashed toxic fumes and pollutants into the air and water of East Palestine, Ohio, leaving the town’s inhabitants reeling with uncertainty about their future. The once-thriving community now stands in a state of disarray, with residents left wondering if they will face long-term health consequences and their town will ever be the same again.
Despite the severity of the situation, weeks after the disaster, President Biden has failed to visit. To make matters worse, he decided to instead visit Ukraine. This move has only exacerbated the betrayal felt by the people of East Palestine. With this move, he has turned the concept of “America first” on its head, treating Americans last, and leaving many Americans feeling as if they are last in line for his attention and concern.
The people of East Palestine are not political pawns to be ignored or overlooked. They are hardworking citizens who deserve compassion, empathy, and a strong leader who will take their concerns seriously. Rural America has been hit hard in recent years, and East Palestine is no different. It is time for our elected officials to prioritize the needs of all Americans, regardless of their location or background, and work towards creating a brighter future for everyone.
East Palestine has endured its fair share of challenges. Once a bustling community centered around coal mining, the town has been dealt a severe blow by the industry’s decline. Job losses and economic hardship have become a way of life for many residents, despite the valiant efforts of local leaders to attract fresh investment and industries. Compounding the town’s woes is the opioid epidemic, which has wreaked havoc on many lives, leaving them struggling with addiction and the resulting social and economic consequences.
Despite East Palestine’s ongoing struggles, U.S. politicians, including President Biden, have largely ignored this community. While the president has taken steps to address rural America’s concerns through such initiatives as the American Jobs Plan and the Rural Partnership Program, he has neglected the specific needs of communities like East Palestine, and with his visit to Ukraine, he has cemented the idea that they will always be treated as subhuman because their votes matter little in presidential elections.
To be clear, the conflict in Ukraine is a pressing issue that demands attention and engagement from the United States. However, it is equally vital that we do not overlook the struggles of East Palestine and similar communities. The two issues are interrelated, as the decline of traditional sectors like coal mining in the United States is linked to global economic trends and the shift toward alternative forms of energy production. By ignoring the challenges faced by communities like East Palestine, the president risks further entrenching the economic disparities driving much of the discontent and division in the country.
Furthermore, the disregard for communities like East Palestine prompts legitimate questions about the President’s dedication to achieving his stated aim of unifying the country. If the administration remains preoccupied with global issues and geopolitical concerns at the expense of the needs of rural and working-class Americans, it risks further heightening the feelings of estrangement and frustration that have prompted many voters to embrace populist and nationalist movements. This is not to suggest that the administration should ignore international issues, but instead that it needs to balance these concerns with a commitment to domestic issues and the needs of all Americans.
President Biden’s choice to overlook the environmental catastrophe taking place in East Palestine during his recent visit to Ukraine is a worrisome occurrence that raises significant concerns about his priorities and dedication to the welfare of all Americans. While the conflict in Ukraine is a crucial issue, the plight of rural and working-class communities in the United States must not be cast aside.
The perceived lack of attention from the Biden administration, highlighted by missteps from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to the president himself, reinforces the sense of neglect felt in these communities. While Biden is in Ukraine, former President Donald Trump is in East Palestine showcasing the care and attention a leader should exemplify during a major disaster such as this.
As the 2024 presidential election approaches, President Biden’s actions risk conveying the impression that he is out of touch with and unsympathetic to struggling Americans. This perception could alienate swing voters who are already discontented with the direction of the country. The people of East Palestine, are in urgent need of assistance, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to collaborate with state and local authorities to provide not only the necessary support and relief to alleviate the current crisis, but also empathy and care by our elected officials to show that they care more about them as people than they do about their votes.
Follow me on Twitter: @arightside
During the nineties, I was a huge fan of “Both Sides with Jesse Jackson,” during which he educated viewers about the plague of Black Lung Disease among coal miners of West Virginia. Thank you for building awareness regarding the plight of East Palestine, Ohio, which was not on my radar until the recent tragic accident. Those in power will continue to thrive as long as the people embrace their “divide and conquer” rhetoric.
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