The Hill’s History-Cast: Introducing Changing America

The Hill’s History-Cast: Introducing Changing America

This week’s episode of The Hill’s History-Cast is a little bit different: Instead of diving deep into the past, we’re taking a look at the future and what the American political landscape looks like in the 21st century.

We spent months scrutinizing economic, demographic and political data to explore the trends at work in modern American politics. Those trends are explained best in places such as Swift County, Minn., and the nearby Twin Cities.

In Swift County, the recession hit hard. When the Prairie Correctional Facility closed in 2010, more than 350 people lost their jobs. The unemployment rate jumped more than 2 points virtually overnight, to almost 10 percent. 

In the intervening years, people left Swift County. The poverty rate grew, and farmers felt the pinch when corn, wheat and soybean prices cratered along with the global commodity market.


At the same time, Hennepin County, the state’s largest and home to Minneapolis, is booming. The Twin Cities are attracting a new generation of migrants, both from places like Swift County and from overseas. Hennepin County has 2,000 more manufacturing jobs than it did five years ago. In that time, the annual median income has increased some $4,500.

In 2016, Swift County gave President Trump 60 percent of the vote, after voting twice for President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama on Supreme Court ruling: 'The Affordable Care Act is here to stay' Appeals court affirms North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban is unconstitutional GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE. Hennepin County gave Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonVirginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Hillary Clinton: Casting doubt on 2020 election is 'doing Putin's work' MORE more votes than even Obama won.

Across the nation, rural counties went red. Urban cores turned a deeper shade of blue.

The election that sent Trump to the White House is replete with juxtaposing examples like those of Swift and Hennepin counties. Those glimpses of a changing America are evidence of a series of countervailing demographic, political and economic forces that have long exerted themselves on the nation — and now define the quadrennial struggle between two sides of the political aisle that are deeply polarized along race, class, economic and educational lines.

Check out this week’s episode on iTunesStitcherTuneIn or your favorite podcast platform. And keep tabs on our Changing America series here.