Lalo de Almeida
Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are part of the so-called Rust Belt, a region that had a strong industry-based economy but it went downhill with globalization. With expressive unions for a long time, these states voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but, with the economic decay – millions of factory jobs closed or “exported” to Asia and Mexico, voters chose Republican Donald Trump in 2016 and thus decided the election that took him to the White House.
Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are part of the America’s ‘Rust Belt’, a region that had a strong industry-based economy that went downhill with globalization. They are also among the so-called ‘swing states’ that have traditionally decided American elections. With a legacy of strong unions and widespread union membership these states voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. With economic decay and millions of factory jobs lost or ‘exported’ to Asia and Mexico, voters turned to the Republicans and Donald Trump in 2016 and thus decided the election that won him the White House.
These photographs are a visual diary of a trip I made through the region, trying to understand what these Americans, whose votes were decisive in 2016, expect from the next elections. I encountered striking workers, closed factories, political rallies, forgotten communities amid coal mines and well-off women who had no idea that in a town near their country club, people had to line up for food and clean water. In no other country in the world has there been such a shocking reversal of income distribution as in the US in recent decades. In the richest country in the world it was difficult to comprehend the levels of poverty and disadvantage faced by so many people.