Globalism saps Midwest; region must seize the future

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Have you read any good books lately?

We have.

Earlier this year, members of the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board read a book about the Midwest that still has us thinking and talking.

The title: “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.”

The author: Richard C. Longworth, a writer and former Chicago Tribune journalist who grew up in Boone, Iowa.

The gist of the book: This is not your father’s Midwest.

Factories have closed. There are fewer farmers. Small towns have declined. Stores are empty. Young people have moved away.

In a nutshell, things are nothing like they used to be.

Foreign competition started the Midwest’s economic slide. Globalism accelerated it.

“The Midwest’s task now is not to try to reclaim what is lost, but to seize the future,” Longworth writes.

Longworth addresses the harsh realities of education, immigration, outsourcing, struggling cities, displaced workers, and political gridlock.

But then, he offers a blueprint for “seizing the future” by a united Midwest – 56 million people strong – that is well worth consideration.

Meticulously researched and filled with interviews, Longworth’s book struck a chord with our editorial board – particularly his call for an end to complacency and a rebirth of the creative spirit that once drove Midwesterners to lead the world in many fields.

We’ve learned of others who have read the book – Sterling City Council members, Lee County Industrial Development Association members and more. It was Dixon Mayor Jim Burke who told our editorial board about it.

We encourage people to seek out a copy of “Caught in the Middle,” read it, and share their views about it. Our plan is to organize a community discussion in the future, and we’ll see where that takes us.

“No real future exists except the future that the Midwest creates for itself,” Longworth writes.

Hey, Sauk Valley. Let’s think and talk about what role our region has to play in the new Midwest.