Why Donald Trump is President3
November 9, 2016 by Paul Goldsmith
Donald Trump’s victory – like Brexit – is built on the backs of people who have been left behind by politics. People whose sole source of income has been closed down and whose values have been mocked. Although it will hard for many who read this blog to read some of it – it is important that we understand what happened.
I have been looking for a long time for a way to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon to everyone I know. Pupils who just want answers and friends and colleagues who want more than just the easy answer of it being about uneducated racists. I found something yesterday, an article by David Wong on www.cracked.com which I can’t post a link to here as many blog readers are pupils and it contains quite horrendous language, but I do want to summarise what he says as it is the nearest I have got to fully understanding why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.
Wong starts by noting that in many epic adventure movies, the good guys tend to be simple folk from the countryside whilst the bad guys are decadent elites living in the city wearing stupid clothes. He uses Star Wars and Braveheart to illustrate this. The theme of these films pit primitive vs advanced, tough vs delicate, poor vs rich, traditional vs wierd all in the same way – code for rural vs urban. These divides don’t exist because of the movies – but the movies used it as shorthand as that divide existed.
Wong goes on to give six reasons why Trump happened – here goes:
1) It is The Country vs The City, not Red vs Blue
This is the county map of the 2012 US election. Not states, counties. Even though Barack Obama won by a long way – looking at this picture makes him look like the leader of a fringe political faction. That’s because although the cities are 4% of the country’s land mass – they contain 62% of the population. Furthermore, 99% of US movies, shows, songs and news come from these blue islands.
If you want to see this even more starkly – Wong tells you to look at Illinois. This is commonly known as a ‘blue state’ as the Democrats keep winning it. But it isn’t blue – Chicago is blue.
To David Wong, growing up in rural Illinois, every TV show is about LA or New York – maybe with some Chicago and Baltimore thrown in. When a show was made about rural areas it was about them being ‘wide-eyed, naive fluffballs’ (Parks and Recreation), or filthy murderous mutants (True Detective). Wong said you could feel the arrogance from hundreds of miles away. Wong cites what happened with the Hurricane Katrina. All the media attention was on the City – New Orleans. None of it was on what happened in rural Mississippi – killing 238 people and doing $125bn in damage. Wong suggests that there was nothing newsworthy about a “bunch of toothless hillbillies crying over a flattened trailer.” Nobody listened to those ignored, suffering people. They have to listen now.
2) City people are from a different planet
Wong then addresses the accusation that Trump supporters are just a bunch of racists who hate cities because “that’s where the brown people live”. Wong accepts that there is no doubt some people who would call themselves Nazis voted Trump. But he goes onto to explain how the racism from his youth was one step removed. He never saw a family member, friend or classmate be mean to black people in their town – they were colleagues and friends. But he did hear comments about what happened if you went to the City and ended up in the wrong neighbourhood. Wong thinks the fear and hatred wasn’t about skin colour – but the urban culture that that was perceived from afar as hyper-aggressive – their ways were strange.
Wong points out that people in the countryside are twice as likely to own a gun, and will get married younger, and are more likely to be alcoholics. People in the city talk and walk faster – are more likely to be drug abusers, less likely to own land and – most importantly – less likely to be evangelical Christians.
When in small towns people say about City folk that “they don’t share our values” – ‘progressives’ scoff “what, like illiteracy and homophobia.” No, everything.
3) Trends always start in the Cities and not all of them are good.
Wong continues by talking of the perception people in the Country got from the Movies and TV that City folk were turning athiest and abandoning church for far less righteous pursuits. Country folk were told this is the sign of the Apocalypse – because of the spiritual consequences and the cultural devastation that would follow. For country folk – the church was everything.
Church is where you made friends, met girls, networked for jobs and got social support. The poor got food and clothes, couples got marriage advice and addicts tried to get clean. But now there is a startling decline in Christianity among the general population, with the decadent, atheist, amoral snobs in the cities turning their noses up at God.
The result, according to Wong is chaos. A sneak peak at Country folk’s tomorrow unless they do something about it. What Christian country folk see according to Wong is that Blacks riot, Muslims set bombs, gays spread AIDS, Mexican cartels behead children and atheists tear down Christmas trees – but liberals cry that “white Christians are the real problem”. As terror victims scream in the street next to their own severed limbs – the elites cry about how men should be allowed to use women’s restrooms and chickens shouldn’t be kept in cages.
So now basic, obvious truths that have gone unquestioned for thousands of years get laughed at and shouted down. Hard work is better than dependence on government, children do better with both parents in the picture, peace is better than rioting, a strict moral code is better than blithe hedonism, humans value things they have earned more than what they get for free.
They have a phrase for this in the country: “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining”.
Country folk feel that the fabric on which American was undeniably built – family, faith and hard work has now been deemed unfashionable and small-minded. Snooty elites kicked away the foundation of the ivory tower then blamed the builders for the ensuing collapse.
By the way – this also explains why many wealthy Americans ALSO voted for Trump. It wasn’t just about the economics, it was also about values, and social conservatives can be wealthy too.
4) The Rural areas have been beaten to a pulp
Wong accept that living in a Democrat country working in a democrat industry it is easy to say what he wrote above is wrong. He knows the good old days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck, many ‘traditional families’ involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and back marriages, gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.
But if you live in Trump country, the suicide rate amongst young people doubles. The recession pounded rural communities but the recovery went to the cities. New businesses don’t open in rural areas.
Rural jobs used to be based upon one big local business – a factory, a coal mine etc – when it dies, the town dies. Cities can make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs with service jobs – small towns cannot due to their low population density.
If you don’t live in a small town, you can’t understand the hopelessness. Possible careers involve moving to the city – but you can’t afford to due to the cost of living. In the city, you can aspire to start a band, be an actor or get a medical degree. In a small town there are no venues for performing arts apart from country music bars and churches. Job listings are for fast food and convenience stores. ‘Downtown’ are the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered by Walmart’s blast crater and the ‘suburbs’ are trailer parks. If you have that medical degree – there might be two Doctors in the the town – but you have to wait until one of them dies before you have a chance to get the job. So you leave.
Wong says that if you complain the liberal elite pull out their iPad and type up a rant about your racist white privilege. They argue that people complaining about the situation above should “try living in a ghetto as a minority”. True, says Wong, but should the plight of poor minorities be used as a club to bat away white cries for help. Politicians act like they care about the inner cities whilst the rate of white suicides and overdoses skyrockets.
5) Everyone lashes out when they don’t have a voice
So people living in white rural communities get all the ravages of poverty, but none of the sympathy. Wong quotes what they might say – “Blacks burn police cars, and liberal elites say its not their fault because they are poor. My son gets jailed and fired over a baggie of meth, and the same elites make jokes about his missing teeth”.
These are people who come from a long line of folks who took pride in looking after themselves. Where Wong came from – you weren’t a real man unless you could repair a car, patch a roof, hunt your own meat and defend your home from an intruder. It was a source of shame to be dependent on anyone – especially the government.
They see hipsters in tiny apartments or public housing projects waiting for the landlord anytime something breaks – because if things get too bad they can pick up and move. When you don’t own anything, it’s all somebody else’s problem.
When people with Trump signs in their front gardens say their way of life is dying – City people say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are getting equal rights and they hate it. Wong says no – “they say their way of life is dying because their way of life is dying”.
So, they vote for the one person in politics promising to put things back the way they were. They voted for a brick through the window of the liberal elites – a vote of desperation.
6) But Why Trump (an arrogant billionaire)?
Desperation makes you root for someone powerful who gives your enemies the insults they deserve. They don’t mind them screwing up just enough to make them relatable. Think about The Avengers, or Breaking Bad, or the many renegade cops who can break all the rules because they get stuff done. In fact, all those renegade cops who only get stuff done because they don’t care about the rules.
Trump is a spiked bat for left-behind rural folk to smash enemies with. Wong says the howls of elite outrage are the sounds of bombs landing on the enemy’s fortress.
Yet people reading this article may be angered by it. Wong says that many liberals feel gut-level revulsion at any attempt to excuse or even understand these people. After all – they’re hardly people, right? Aren’t they just a mass of ignorant, rageful, crude, spitting, cursing subhumans?
Wong hopes not – he hugs a bunch of them at Thanksgiving. He knows he is only not one of them because he moved away. That he had to move away to get somewhere in life tells you a lot.
It may feel good to dismiss the people David Wong writes about – to mock them, write them off as deplorables. But today you should take time to try to understand them. They will be around long after Donald Trump has gone.
Trump’s victory shows the UGLY side of the USA…period
I can see why you think that Paul. I’m probably not going to change your mind on it either. The article attempts to explain what has brought out this ugly side. These are the same forces as Brexit, and we can keep ignoring them, laughing at them or calling them names but we now know that if we do any of those – those forces can and will win.
the day after the election there was an article in the guardian that really summed up (to me at least) the diconnnect between trump and hilary supporters. the article was essentially a panal piece with the central question “why does America hate women?” and the argument was pretty straightword: Donald Trump is a sexist, the American people voted him in as president, QED Americans must hate women.
while no doubt a fair number of people saw his sexism as a positive in voting for trump, for others it’s was just that that had different priorities. Yes he may be a sexist or racist, but their priorities were the revitalisation of their town / industry or a or a return to traditional values and it was these considerations that trumped (I could not help it) his attitude to women.
A trump supporter reading the article would probably wonder why anyone would vote for someone based only on their views on women; what about their economic or defence plans?
I have always lived in london and I think it can be essy to slip into thinking that the argument about the liberal consensus has been won, but when I talk to people from Lincolnshire or Yorkshire I am surprised by how it often felt like we come from two different countries.
in the cities it can be tempting to view these views as old fashion or even backward, but by thinking of them this way it negates the need to provide proper arguments against them or to dismiss their concerns out of hand when a little understanding and empathy is probably what’s calls for.