Donald Trump. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

In some downtrodden American towns, the question about whether or not to vote for Donald Trump has more to do with a “desperate survival bid” than with his racist promises. A writer’s travels through the Appalachian Mountains uncover the pain, poverty and indignation that have fueled Trump’s rise among people who have felt let down by politicians on all ends of the political spectrum.

From The Associated Press:

The average Republican is as pessimistic about the economy today as the day Lehman Brothers collapsed, eight years ago, [Peter Atwater, a consultant who studies the tides of consumer confidence,] said. That perception of decline — that the country is careening in the wrong direction — can be as politically potent as watching your hometown wither, he said.

The non-profit Public Religion Research Institute calls such people “nostalgia voters.” Daniel Cox, the organization’s research director, said an uneven recovery from the recession lined up with societal shifts — the election of the first non-white president, a rising minority population, the decreasing influence of Christian values. It left many in struggling, blue-collar communities across the country feeling deserted for the sake of progress someplace else. … “When confidence falls, [” Atwater said,”] it’s all too complicated to understand an elaborate plan or an articulated policy. We don’t want to wait for the details; we don’t want to read the footnotes. Just give me a powerful headline.”

Trump promised to build the wall. Create jobs. Destroy ISIS. He blamed immigrants and China and Muslims for America’s woes. …. [Former miner Albert Adams] doesn’t like everything Trump has to say, particularly about immigration. He imagines immigrants are a lot like West Virginians: hard workers, doomed by the place of their birth to be down on their luck, looking for a better life.

His conundrum is echoed all over these mountains. People like Trump’s delivery, the rat-a-tat-tat of promises and insults so unscripted they figure he couldn’t have given it enough forethought to be pandering. Yet they’re occasionally disturbed by the contents.

Adams’ business partner, Leslie Arthur, isn’t quite sure Trump should be trusted with the nuclear codes. Mike Honaker, who runs the local funeral home, doesn’t appreciate how he talks about women. Mike Kirk in the pawn shop cringes when he hurls schoolyard taunts.

Read more.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata


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