Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
French newspaper story to highlight Mercer County's support for Trump
By William Kincaid
French reporter Karen Lajon, 57, speaks to The Daily Standard Managing Editor Do. . .
CELINA - French reporter Karen Lajon's jaw dropped when she glanced over the number of churches listed on The Daily Standard's Friday religion page.
She let out a squeak.
"And this is not all of them," publisher Frank Snyder said.
"It is impressive," Lajon said.
Lajon had just driven from the Dayton International Airport to Mercer County on assignment for Le Journal du Dimanche, a French weekly newspaper published on Sundays. She came to find out the reason why an overwhelming majority of the electorate in the rural county of swing state Ohio voted for Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election. She was also researching a story about the heroin issues in the area.
"I'm a field journalist," Lajon, 57, said. "The only thing I do is talking to what I call 'the real people,' so I go into the real America."
Lagon stopped by the newspaper and planned to speak with ordinary people over the course of three days before filing her story by Friday with Le Journal du Dimanche, which she said has a circulation of more than 150,000. When she started 30 years ago, its circulation was 600,000.
According to the county board of elections, 80.24 percent of the 22,043 participating voters picked Trump for president.
Part of the reason for Trump's victory in Mercer County is the religious values - notably the pro-life stance - held by many residents, Daily Standard editor Doug Drexler and Snyder agreed. Drexler pointed to the vast number of Catholic churches in the county, including the southern part that is often referred to as the "Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches."
"But that isn't just Catholic," Snyder said. "I know of no member of any church that is in favor of abortion."
Prior to the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, Mercer County was decidedly Democratic, according to locals involved in politics.
"There was a period were it was rare to find a Republican in the courthouse," Snyder said. "And that's completely inverted now. It's rare to find a Democrat."
Drexler also noted that manufacturers Huffy, Mersman's and New Idea all closed up over those years.
"Saying, 'Let's bring our jobs back,' that rang here," Snyder said about Trump's comments.
The two continued commenting on the reason why Trump was successful locally.
"These people had to hold their nose," Snyder said. "Which one am I gong to vote for? And it was a matter of the lesser evils."
Drexler offered that some had the impression that Trump at least understood their concerns.
"Everybody was kind of convinced neither party was listening to what they were concerned about here, and they picked the candidate the farthest from D.C.," he said.
Lajon then spoke to the widespread appeal of voting for a so-called anti-establishment candidate, saying she had interviewed students who had voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. These same students told her if Clinton had won the primary they would have voted for Trump.
"They were ready to vote either for Trump or Bernie Sanders. Can you imagine?" she asked.
Snyder and Drexler opined that Hillary was out of touch with middle America.
"Hillary was basically pandering to the coasts," Snyder said. "The social issues that she was talking on and getting government to do stuff, we don't need that. We work here. We don't need all of these taxpayer-funded programs."
Clinton also failed to address pocketbook issues, Snyder said, pointing to the extremely low interest rates over the last eight years.
"This is an area that was brought up, 'save your money, don't depend totally on Social Security,' " Snyder said. "Save some money because that's what you're going to need."
Lajon said she's been covering the U.S. presidential election for the last two years. Initially, she didn't know who was going to win and "like everybody else" thought Trump was a joke.
But she began to see signs that Trump was being regarded seriously by some people.
"I just kept saying ... 'Well, you know, I hear a lot about Trump, Trump, and I was in Florida in July," she said. "The signs I was seeing in front of the houses were Trump/Pence, Trump/Pence."
She said she relayed this to her newspaper but was told, "Forget it, Hillary's going to win."
"This illustrates exactly the same thing on my level, which is a newspaper; you have a field reporter which is telling you something and you have the editor who's telling you another thing," Lajon said. "He's going to write another thing and he wrote for the entire year that Hillary Clinton was going to win."
"This is exactly the same thing with Washington and the rest of America: They don't listen," she continued. "They don't listen to the people. The elite does not listen to the people."
Lajon recalled seeing Trump in person on the campaign.
"You can tell when you see him, he's a winner, he's a fighter, he's a warrior, this guy," she said.
She compared him to the Israeli government.
"When they say something, they do it," she said. "Trump is the same. He says something, he does it."
Lajon said she first came to America at 15 to better learn the English language. Never in her lifetime did she imagine that words like "socialism" and "revolution" would be so acceptable here, Lajon said in reference to Bernie Sanders' campaign.
"It's not a disease anymore to say that you're a socialist," she said.