Born in the U.S.A: The real life Hunger Games

Like many Americans, I enjoyed last summer’s blockbuster hit, “The Hunger Games.”

While I’ll admit I haven’t actually read the series, I can’t help but think we have our own, real life “Hunger Games” going on in America today.

If you need proof, look no further than the American midwest. No region in the country has been more impacted by the rapid and staggering deindustrialization of the country than the American midwest, where the good, high-paying union manufacturing jobs of yore have vanished in a sea of low-wage jobs in the service sector.

Today, both candidates vie for the support of the American midwest in their respective presidential campaigns. Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states and both the president and Republican Gov. Romney have adopted rhetoric intended to appeal to midwestern voters, with promises from Romney to label China a “currency manipulator” and President Barack Obama to grow manufacturing by removing tax incentives for outsourcing.

Nevertheless, what we have in the midwest today is a lot of hot air coming out of both campaigns. Recall Gov. Romney penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Recall also that Obama has preached the virtues of American manufacturing all the while signing free trade agreements with South Korea and Columbia that seriously threaten to further erode America’s manufacturing base.

Like “The Hunger Games,” American politics has become something of a bloodsport wherein millionaire and billionaire donors fund presidential campaigns for the underlying purpose of protection for themselves. Working class Americans are left out in the cold as both Obama and Romney rake in cash from Wall Street financiers and refuse to commit themselves to anything other than platitudes for rebuilding America’s industrial base.

As jobs dry up, as wages decline and as the economy contracts, the potential for catastrophic levels of deprivation in the midwest increase. Already a leader in unemployment and with rising poverty, a double-dip recession threatens to ignite a powder keg in the midwest. Where might that lead?

It’s time for the American Hunger Games to end. Wealthy donors should no longer be allowed to “sponsor” candidates; hot air has to give way to real solutions to rebuild the midwest and the country as a whole. We have to make it in America again.

Column by Devin Griggs, opinion editor. Devin serves as vice president of finances for the Murray State College Democrats.