The East Palestine Disconnect

The continuing chasm between rural America and the Democratic Party

Jeff Marzick
6 min readFeb 23


Photo courtesy of Tom Barrett on Unsplash

So Donald Trump visited East Palestine, Ohio, yesterday. Visiting the scene of the crime is what immediately came to mind when I saw him arrive in “Trump Force One.” But what I saw from many in that community was nothing of the sort. There were cheers, clapping, and fawning — something resembling a rock star coming back on stage for an encore.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

I’m sorry. I do not mean to lump everyone in East Palestine into the same camp. Indeed there are folks there who despise the man. But let’s face it. Trump got over 70 percent of the vote in that area in 2020. Certainly, those are landslide numbers by any stretch of the imagination.

And what they do not know, at least most of them, is that when Trump came into office in 2017, he gutted scores of regulations spanning multiple agencies across the entire spectrum of the United States regulatory system. Of course, it’s not a shock that a Republican president — hell, any Republican president, would resort to these tactics. It’s what they do every damn time.

And rural America is okay with Republicans gutting regulations because they’ve been told it’s nothing but big government trying to tell companies, and them, what to do.

It’s a crazy dichotomy that always plays out when Republican ones replace democratic administrations. But here’s the deal. At some point, folks who live in areas like East Palestine will likely need big government, and they will need it in a big way. And the disastrous train derailment perpetrated by Norfolk Southern proves that point.

In 2018 Trump reversed an Executive Order issued by President Obama that would have required Norfolk and other rail company behemoths to adhere to a higher safety standard concerning their antiquated braking systems. Naturally, Norfolk and the others lobbied the Trump administration hard to ensure these new regulations were rolled back.

It’s too early to tell if gutting that particular regulation was the sole reason for the derailment in East Palestine, as the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident. And it appears more…



Jeff Marzick

Freelance writer/blogger living in the Pacific Northwest. You can also follow me at my blog: