THE FORGOTTEN is a close look at Luzerne, a county in northeast Pennsylvania that had not voted for a Republican president since 1988. In 2008, President Obama won Luzerne County by eight percentage points; in 2012, he claimed victory by five points. In 2016, Donald Trump routed Hillary Clinton in the county by 26,237 votes—nearly twenty percentage points, and nearly 60 percent of the margin of votes that would ultimately win Trump the state. It was these citizens, Bradlee argues, who changed the face of American politics and brought Donald Trump to D.C.
Once a stronghold of union families and Democratic loyalties, today Luzerne is economically depressed and anchored by the struggling city of Wilkes-Barre. It is one of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States that are part of the red vastness—largely self-governing, rural communities that comprise 96 percent of the country’s land mass and which wield nearly no influence on American pop culture or news.
Ben Bradlee Jr. is the author of the critically acclaimed The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams (2013) and three other books. Bradlee spent 25 years with the Boston Globe and as deputy managing editor oversaw its Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church from July 2001 to August 2002.