The drive from State College, Pa. to Columbus, Ohio is straight out of a novel on the heartland of America. It’s beautiful, leaves are either changing colors or trees are barren as the calendar has turned to November. There are rolling hills covered in green grass which is just starting to get a hint of brown with winter around the corner. Occasionally, you pass by a small town, but for the most part, it’s a picturesque but kind of boring portion of the country that gets monotonous during a five hour drive.
This is the part of the country that helped Donald Trump become the President-elect of the United States. These small, rural areas outside of places like State College (where I live) or Columbus (the site of the U.S. Soccer vs. Mexico match I am driving to) helped elevate the Republican Party’s nominee to the White House. According to the New York Times, Centre County in Pennsylvania and Franklin County in Ohio went for Hillary Clinton. Everywhere on the highway between those two counties voted for Trump. The drive is littered with Make America Great Again and Trump/Pence signs. This is not unexpected, but residing in and going to places where you mostly only see support for Clinton makes this a little jarring.
The G.O.P. candidate’s rise to the Presidency happened in small towns like these. And the rhetoric used by the President-elect towards Mexico gave quite the subplot to one of international soccer’s biggest rivalries.