Politico magazine has an interesting piece up today titled “What Do You Do if a Red State Moves to You?” That title is actually close to being the opposite of what the piece describes. It’s not about red staters moving into the cities. It’s about blue staters deciding, for one reason or another, to colonize a small county in rural Wisconsin and then being horrified to find not everyone who lives there shares their political outlook. The author suggests the cultural smugness of these progressive transplants is one reason some people in this rural county voted for Donald Trump.
The piece opens with the dismay of Andrea Myklebust, a left-leaning sculptor who moved to Pepin county from the twin cities because she liked the look of it:
She described the history-twisting election of 2016 in stark, before-and-after terms, unable to fathom how anybody could have voted for Trump, much less three-fifths of the people with whom she shares her adopted home in Pepin County. “There is sort of a baseline assumption of common sense and decency that’s been thrown into question in a way I never expected it to be,” she said. “And it’s a struggle. You have to continue to interact with people, and you have to wonder: Do you really have hate in your heart in this way? Really? At the core, I didn’t believe this about us.”
The assumption that anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs is indecent and a hater turns out to be one of the main motivators driving a lot of Myklebust’s neighbors to vote for Trump. The locals know when they’re being looked down upon and they don’t appreciate it.
Here, the urban elite isn’t a faceless, distant other: It’s the enclave of liberal, mostly Twin Cities newcomers who have moved here over the past few decades—not just an abstract political imposition, but an actual physical presence. It has spawned anger and bitterness, a simmering undercurrent of alienation among many people locally born and raised. It has made “Democrat” mean something it didn’t mean a generation ago. And it was made manifest on November 8…
“We have found a whole community here,” said Pat Carlson, Wally Zick’s wife, “of very like-minded—it’s going to sound elite—but bookish, artsy, I’d say compassionate … organic foodies, the whole nine yards. It’s all transplants. It’s mostly liberals.” As for this election, and the locals, she continued, “I think they thought the liberal elite was looking down on them, and I guess, in some ways, we were. Because we couldn’t believe anybody would vote for Trump.”
The piece offers as an example John Andrews, a former sheriff who was also the head of the Democratic Party in Pepin county. Now he’s a Republican:
“When the people came in—and the things that they were trying to push on the rest of us—that’s why I left,” Andrews added. “I didn’t want to deal with these people. I didn’t want to be a part of what they were a part of. You’re talking about people from the Cities who are very progressive. I call them tree-huggers, a bunch of tree-huggers. They referred to us, meaning the people who’ve lived here and worked here all our lives, as a bunch of hicks. They just think they’re a little bit better than everybody else, and that we’re not as smart.”
Carolyn Tyra, a 50ish Wal-Mart cashier, puts it more bluntly. She tells Politico, “they all think we’re stupid and the common blue-collar worker doesn’t want to be treated like we’re stupid.”
No doubt there are other factors involved, but author Michael Kruse makes a convincing case that the smug cultural superiority of progressives has a lot to do with Trump’s unexpected win in rural Wisconsin.