Why Rural America Voted for Trump – The New York Times

How can we understand why so many people voted for Trump? I have started to collect resources to help us try to find some answers. I believe that this information should be considered if/when Democrats conduct an “autopsy” of what went wrong for them in the 2016 election.

One important source of information can be found in the writings of Arlie Russell Hochschild especially her concept of the Deep Story.

Today, Robert Leonard who lives in rural Iowa and considers himself a liberal wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he discusses how he came to understand why rural Americans voted for Trump.  Leonard’s op-ed adds valuable information to Hochschild’s concept of the Deep Story. Here is what Hochschild reports about the Deep Stories she learned about after spending five years living with rural Louisiana Tea Party voters:

You’re on a—waiting in line for something you really want at the end: the American dream. You feel a sense of great deserving. You’ve worked very hard. A lot of these guys were plant workers, pipefitters in the petrochemical—you know, it’s tough work. So you’ve worked really hard. And the line isn’t moving. It’s like a pilgrimage up, up to the top. It’s not moving.

Then you see some people cut in line. Well, who were they? They are affirmative action women who would go for formerly all-men’s jobs, or affirmative action blacks who have been sponsored and now have access to formerly all-white jobs. It’s immigrants. It’s refugees. And from—as felt, the line’s moving back.

Then they see Barack Hussein Obama, who should impartially be monitoring the line, wave to the line cutters. And then you think, “Oh, he’s their president and not mine. And, in fact, he’s a line cutter. How did he get to Harvard? How did he get to Columbia? Where did he get the money? His mom was a single mom. Wait a minute.”

And then they begin to feel like strangers in their own land. They feel like the government has become a giant marginalization machine. It’s not theirs. In fact, it’s putting them back. And then someone in front of the line turns around and says, “Oh, you redneck,” you know. And that feels insult to injury. It’s just the tipping point at which they feel not only estranged—I mean, demographically they’re getting smaller. They feel like they’re religious in an increasingly secular culture. Their attitudes are denigrated, and so they’re culturally denigrated. And then the economy begins to shake. And then they feel, ‘I need another leader.’

Today, Robert Leonard who lives in rural Iowa and considers himself a liberal wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he discusses how he came to understand why rural Americans voted for Trump.  Leonard’s op-ed adds valuable information to Hochschild’s concept of the Deep Story. He points out that an important variable is the fundamental assumption that different groups make about the nature of human beings: one group assumes that people are fundamentally bad and the other assumes that they are fundamentally good.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,” said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. “We are born bad,” he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that.”

There are important implications for this fundamentally different conception of the nature of human beings.  First, if people are born fundamentally bad, they must be reborn to become fundamentally good – hence the emphasis on religion and Evangelical Christianity.  Second, people need to be trained from a young age to act in ways that are better than the way they would act naturally. By nature they would be slackers trying to get away with anything they can get away with.  You must teach children to value hard work and not look for ways to live by avoiding work.

If you read the interviews with Hochschild that I’ve posted here and add to it the ideas that Leonard discusses in his op-ed (click the link below) you will get a better understanding of why the Deep Story motivated so many people to vote for Trump.

Source: Why Rural America Voted for Trump – The New York Times

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