Saturday, October 15, 2016

Living in Trump country

A week ago I wrote of three categories of Trump supporters and said all three are about desires of power, of being able to say I’m better than you are. Here’s another viewpoint to consider, not because I agree with their choice, but because I need to understand.

David Wong, writing for Cracked, explores How Half of American Lost its F**king Mind. The issue in this election isn’t red and blue states, it is Country v. City. Wong claims expertise on the topic because he used to live in the country and now lives in a city. He is sure that if he hadn’t moved he would now be a Trump supporter. Let’s take a look at the election from the country point of view.

Instead of the red/blue state maps look at the red/blue county maps. Across the country, even in solid blue states, most counties are red. Illinois is one of those reliably blue states – all because of Chicago. Across the nation cities are less than 4% of the land, but are 62% of the population. And the cities, controllers of most of the popular culture, portray residents of the country as bumpkins or murderous mutants – when they’re not ignored.

But aren’t rural people a bunch of racists? Isn’t that a reason to dismiss them? Maybe not. White rural people are friendly enough of their black neighbors – the ones who act like they do. What they’re afraid of is going to the city and ending up in the “wrong neighborhood” where your life is likely in danger. Popular culture magnifies that danger.

Rural people say city people don’t share their values. And they mean a whole lot more than homophobia.
Church was where you made friends, met girls, networked for jobs, got social support. The poor could get food and clothes there, couples could get advice on their marriages, addicts could try to get clean.
But cities are becoming less religious, turning away from god. From the country point of view that can only lead to chaos – which they see every night on TV in both the news and entertainment.
Blacks riot, Muslims set bombs, gays spread AIDS, Mexican cartels behead children, atheists tear down Christmas trees.
And fundamentalist Christians are the problem? Sure.
Basic, obvious truths that have gone unquestioned for thousands of years now get laughed at and shouted down -- the fact that hard work is better than dependence on government, that children do better with both parents in the picture, that peace is better than rioting, that a strict moral code is better than blithe hedonism, that humans tend to value things they've earned more than what they get for free, that not getting exploded by a bomb is better than getting exploded by a bomb.

The foundation upon which America was undeniably built -- family, faith, and hard work -- had been deemed unfashionable and small-minded. Those snooty elites up in their ivory tower laughed as they kicked away that foundation, and then wrote 10,000-word thinkpieces blaming the builders for the ensuing collapse.

I know the Good Old Days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, I know that entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck. I know that those "traditional families" involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. I know gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.

I know the changes were for the best.

Try telling that to anybody who lives in Trump country.
The rural economy has been blown to bits. Many rural towns had one industry, which is now gone. Most of the rural stores closed, turning many main streets into ghost towns, because of Walmart. And don’t say to move to a city where minimum wage doesn’t cover housing.

Where does federal recovery help go? Cities. Rural folk say we get all the ravages of poverty and none of the sympathy.

And along comes Trump who promises to put things back the way they were and to stick a finger in the eye of the people who live in the blue islands in our national sea of red. He insults people? Objectifies women? Constantly cheats? Is a billionaire? At least he is speaking to the needs of country people and insulting their enemies. He’ll get things done because he doesn’t care about the rules. Trump is an asshole? That’s fine. Assholes swinging bats to smash enemies is a good thing.

That’s the end of Wong’s article. What isn’t in this discussion (and I won’t add) is which party’s policies are responsible for the hopeless state of rural people and which party’s policies have a better chance of helping them.

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