This guy found a handful of the dumbest people in America and concluded people in rural areas are morally degraded and their problems are their own fault.
The arrogance of dismissing their contempt for the government is overwhelming. Just because they don't express their hatred of the elite class of people who rule them in just the right way doesn't somehow add up to their anger being misguided. They're using "the government" as a lightning rod for the myriad elites who do basically dictate the shape of their lives--the media they consume, the state of the market they could never control, and what options for their future they have. It's not expressed clearly, but it's not hard for someone with an ounce of empathy to suss out.
I could come up with a laundry list of the moral failures of the white rural poor, sure. My family tree is full of people just like this. But this researcher and people just like him cannot see past their own ideology. They want to believe they're objective, but they're not, they're caught up in the same sort of scientistic neoliberalism that can't help but see anyone outside of their elite class as a curious primitive and any other value system from theirs as a totemic anomaly. They want to know what character flaws led people to do such a horrible thing as to vote for Trump, but cannot for a moment consider how it was that we got to this position. Hint: it's not the rural poor's fault.
My politics are on the left wing of the political spectrum, but as I sit here in my home in rural America (pop 30,000, farm based economy, nearest city of 250,000, 1 hour drive away) it would seem to me that people are mad because:
-There are very few high paying jobs -There is limited access to medical care -Local government ineptitude has a very real daily impact -Small tax base means surprisingly high taxes, but real struggle to maintain infrastructure (especially schools) -“Traditional” upbringing, often religious based, that breed skepticism toward anything “foreign” - which means everything from non-white people to AirBnB. -A fear that Washington DC really is a threat to their freedoms. For example, there is a view that gun laws aren’t really about guns, so much as a perception of a slippery slope toward totalitarianism.
Those are just kinda off the top of my head… but having now lived here in small town, rural America for eight years, I can sympathize with some of their views. People in small towns are not all the slack-jawed yokels city dwellers like to believe they are - many are well-informed and well-educated. By and large, they have legitimate concerns, even if they can be misguided in their beliefs about the potential solutions — and politicians to help them achieve those solutions.
My $0.02 — small towns need to be more entrepreneurial. The government isn’t going to fix it for you. Trying to recruit Amazon (for example) to put a warehouse there isn’t going to bring the desired economic outcomes either. Do it for yourselves.
It seems the article wants to make the case that it's not about economic issues but things like values. This may play a role but when things don't work well economically people are susceptible to attacking scapegoats like foreigners, atheists or whatever.
I am sure these people would be less angry if they perceived to be in a prospering part of the country and not a decaying one.
What an oddly combative interviewer. Are you asking questions, or are you soapboxing?
Such nonsense. What would Vox know about rural America?
Rural Americans are mad about being called 'flyover states', about being called racists (really for voting against Democrats) and for being portrayed as backwards.
Rural Americans are great people, the same as urban Americans. If you can't see the good in other people, the problem isn't with them.
For 8 years of work, the conclusions don't seem very insightful.
Many of these articles point to the a white working class populace unsettled over demographic changes (read: an increasing non-white immigrant population). Wasn't there such unease even when immigration was almost entirely "white"? The Irish weren't white for a while, neither were the swarthy italians, poles, jews etc. How is it different this time around?
"I know a lot of people who don’t live in rural America are tired of being told they need to understand all these resentments."
Well, nobody needs to do anything. But if you really want to solve a problem, it usually helps to understand it. Overpowering the other side only works for so long.
This analysis (or treatment of it) seems pretty superficial. I was curious about the conclusions... but they were pretty dissatisfying. The question is an important one, though.
Maybe if cities had building codes that resulted in more privacy within residences (isolation from outside disturbance; usually better insulation and an actual ventilation /design/; often lacking or incorrectly implemented.) as well a an overall urban plan that encouraged 'organic' development of commerce within planned and interconnected human-scale areas (with transport and cars/etc on a different level entirely) there'd be a place for warm communities within cities that the rural residents would feel welcome within.
tl;dr; - As a former rural American now living in Chicago I rant about a couple of reasons I think the author being interviewed is wrong.
I think this interview, and inferring from the interview, the book in question have largely glossed over a number of issues, these are just to name a few:
1. Not all rural people are ultra-conservative bible-thumping hicks. Sure, some are, but they're usually a highly vocal minority. Most rural folk just want to be left alone to go about their day. I grew up in rural Montana and now live in Chicago, and I'm an atheist, fiscally conservative, social libertarian (I don't care what you do in your personal life as long as it's between consenting adults and it doesn't infringe on my rights). I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could make a decent living there and if not having step-kids and joint-custody in Chicago.
2. Rural people tend to be largely self-sufficient and transitively, largely independent. They don't dependent on the government for day-to-day things. Sure, they may depend upon the government for roads, but truly rural (and I'm sorry, a town of 25,000 is not rural - that's a regional city) don't depend on government for water or sewer. They'll have either their own or a community well and septic systems. Police & Fire services? You're probably fucked if you need them. Response times may be an hour or more. Same for EMT services. Hell, depending on the time of year, emergency services may not be able to get to your home - you may have to meet them part way. I've certainly seen that first hand growing up - an elderly neighbor had to get her husband, who was suffering a heart attack, into their SUV and meet the ambulance at the nearest paved road as it couldn't get to their house.
3. Rural people perceive urban areas as getting preferential treatment for government services, especially for natural disasters and infrastructure improvement. Yeah, a bridge in say the Twin Cities of Minneapolis (and this is not even local) might only serve a portion of only 3.3M local residents, but when that fails, a lot of cross country trucking routes fail, need to be rerouted. But, what about a closure of I-90 between Spokane, WA and Missoula, MT? A lot of freight and post travels that route. First hand, my parents lost their rural home in a wild fire this past (2017) fire season. Why? Not from the natural lightning-caused fire, but because the Federal Forest Service set a back burn at the worst possible time of day (afternoon) and then let it run rampant while my parents' house and a neighbor's house burned to the ground. And from other neighbors that didn't evacuate, the fire personnel just stood there and watched. This after having cut a fire break and running water pipes miles over the hill side to protect against such a circumstance. Fast forward to the wildfires outside of LA, and they pull out all of the stops there, while basically committing arson on my parents and their neighbor. So far, no criminal charges or government settlement, but there certainly ought to be. So, yeah, sometimes the Fed comes in and literally burns your house to the ground and you have no recourse.
4. Rural people just plain don't like being told what to do from people thousands of miles away. The DC politicians largely don't know what it takes to live a rural live and likely never have lived a rural life. They may have made a token visit to a rural resort, but have no idea what it is like to live where the nearest "town" to which you live has a population of 1 and is your grocery store, gas station and post office (and probably a few other things).
Sorry, this turned into a long-winded rant; I did not mean it to. I think the author being interviewed had preconceived conclusions and did his interviews to support those conclusions without actually digging into the meat of the problem.
That's complete bullshit. The reason is 100% because of the economy. Many of them will say it's not, others will also believe it, but if you dig down to the truth, it's absolutely and exclusively all about the economy.