A blog post about the disaffected voters who made up the difference in the Trump victory over Hillary Clinton two weeks ago is making the rounds on social media and it is worth your attention, Big League.
The post, written by “Tori” who describes herself as ” a college student at a small Christian university” is titled “Hate Didn’t Elect Donald Trump; People Did” focuses on her experience visiting her sister at a soccer tournament in Bloomsburg, PA.
Tori describes the near squalid conditions she witnessed while driving through rural, central Pennsylvania. Restaurants and stores boarded up. No outlets. No Wal-Mart. Plastic lawn furniture in the front lawns of houses with drooping front porches. An abandoned factoy in almost every town.
My father, who was driving the car, turned to me and pointed out a Trump sign stuck in a front yard, surrounded by weeds and dead grass. “This is Trump country, Tori,” He said. “These people are desperate, trapped for life in these small towns with no escape. These people are the ones voting for Trump.”
Tori then points out that the mainstream media narrative has acknowledged that Trump’s victory was fueled by votes from rural areas that either had not voted at all in the recent past, or have voted for the Democrat nominee. However, as Tori observes, the media has leapt to the biased conclusion that those votes were from racist white people who hate Obama and Hillary.
Tori begs to differ:
Rural Americans suffer from a poverty rate that is 3 points higher than the poverty rate found in urban America. In Southern regions, like Appalachia, the poverty rate jumps to 8 points higher than those found in cities. One fifth of the children living in poverty live rural areas. The children in this “forgotten fifth” are more likely to live in extreme poverty and live in poverty longer than their urban counterparts. 57% of these children are white.
Education, particularly college, is less attainable to those living in rural areas. 64% of young people in rural areas attend college, compared to the 70% of students who attend universities in metro areas. 47% of these small town students who end up attending college only go for a two-year degree, while only 38% of urban students attain only a two-year degree. And, when these students do fight the odds and attend a university, they don’t come back to their place of origin due to the lack of jobs.
Rural Americans also suffer from a lower life expectancy. Those living in Appalachia regions, in particular, have a life expectancy that is declining at a rate that is worse than anywhere else in the USA. Those living in rural America are more likely to suffer from depression. Alcohol and substance abuse is prevalent in rural America and 25.9% of those entering rehab for addictions are between the ages of 12-17. The chronic pain that comes from vocations such as mining has caused the heroin epidemic sweeping small towns.
It’s a terrific post and deserves to be read in full, which you can do right here. Her conclusion:
It was not a racist who voted for Trump, but a father who has no possible way of providing a steady income for his family. It was not a misogynist who voted for Trump, but a mother who is feeding her baby mountain dew out of a bottle. It was not a deplorable who voted for Trump, but a young man who has no possibility of getting out of a small town that is steadily growing smaller.
The people America has forgotten about are the ones who voted for Donald Trump. It does not matter if you agree with Trump. It does not matter if you believe that these people voted for a candidate who won’t actually help them. What matters is that the red electoral college map was a scream for help, and we’re screaming racist so loud we don’t hear them. Hatred didn’t elect Donald Trump; People did.
Tori’s observations echo the great book by J. D. Vance called Hillbilly Elegy. In their essay on Vance’s book, The Atlantic shed light on the same conditions Tori saw first hand:
Today, less privileged white Americans are considered to be in crisis, and the language of sociologists and pathologists predominates. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 was published in 2012, and Robert D. Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis came out last year. From opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they made the case that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans: Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply. Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites. And then, of course, came the 2016 presidential campaign. The question was suddenly no longer why Democrats struggled to appeal to regular Americans. It was why so many regular Americans were drawn to a man like Donald Trump.
Of course, The Atlantic couldn’t help themselves in re-focusing the argument back to race. “This does not mean that racism is absent in these areas—far from it. But it suggests that the racism is fueled as much by suspicion of the “other” as it is by firsthand experience of blacks and competition with them—and that political sentiment on issues such as welfare and crime isn’t as racially motivated as many liberal analysts assume,” they opined.
Maybe this is why Tori’s post has resonated with shares on social media topping one million in just ten days. It shows the power of one bloggers observation and plain-speaking cutting through the hyperbolic navel-gazing we see on cable news and on more “legitimate” blogs populated by experts who know so much more about politics than the “Toris” of the world.
After all, these are the same experts who said Trump wouldn’t run in the first place.