Commentary: My party is poor people

I grew up in a small city at a time when small cities and towns in America still built things. For the better part of a century, General Electric operated a 300-acre transformer plant in the heart of my hometown of Pittsfield which is situated on the banks of the Housatonic River in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. For more than 13,000 people who worked there at its height, out of a total population of 50,000, the mammoth factory was a source of personal pride and a seemingly enduring symbol of America’s industrial strength during the post-War era.

But, like many small cities and towns, that slowly started to change. The transformers division shut down completely around when I was born and many of the good-paying, union jobs all but disappeared when I was in grade school. The mammoth factory still sits there as a reminder of what once was and, for many of the long-displaced workers, what they once had. My friends’ parents would speak of General Electric in a forlorn, wistful way, almost as if the company itself was a former lover. The community carried an enduring sense of loss.