Reporting in From Trump Country

I live in Darke county, Ohio. In 2004, Darke county voted for Bush, who got 69.5% of the vote. In 2008, it voted for McCain, who got 66.9% of the vote. In 2012, it voted for Romney, who got 71%.

So you may not be surprised when I tell you the area in which I live is heavily tilted toward Trump in this election, and when November 8 rolls around, I expect him to win my county handily, likely gathering something like 70% of the vote.

Do I live among idiots? No. I live among wonderful people who will clear your driveway when it snows and watch your pets when you go away, who love and care for their friends and families, who are decent people in their day-to-day lives and are folks I am proud to call neighbors. Most of them will vote differently than I do in this election. They do not live differently than I do. Our lives in Darke county are rather more in common than they are different.

But they are voting for Trump! And he’s awful! Yes, he is; as I’ve noted before, he’s manifestly the worst major party presidential candidate in living memory. He’s also up against the second-least popular presidential candidate ever (after Trump himself), whom the GOP and their allies have spent decades denigrating, who even her supporters must realistically acknowledge is not overbrimming with public-facing charm, who has a raft of policy and social ideas that don’t play expansively well in a county that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Washington as its representative since the Great Depression.

This isn’t to excuse Trump or the GOP. I wish my neighbors had both a better presidential candidate to support and a better party to field that candidate, one that (in my opinion) better represented the area’s generally conservative but essentially pragmatic nature. I think Darke county is the sort of place that the GOP has been gulling for years, relying on its appeal to the area’s social conservatism to push through policies that don’t help the locals at all. There aren’t a whole lot of one percenters around here to benefit from the fiscal and economic policies the GOP (and Trump) want to promote, and particularly in the case of Trump, the people here, reliant on farming and manufacturing, have a lot to lose.

It is to recognize that the Democratic party in general hasn’t gone out of its way to make places like Darke county a priority. The local Democratic party’s outreach, as far as I can see, is a single tent once a year at the county fair; the biannual Democratic candidate for OH-8 (when there is one; there hasn’t always been) gets little if any support from the national or state parties as far as I can see. Pragmatically it makes sense to cede the district; there’s only so much money to go around. But on the other hand it might be a little hypocritical for me or anyone else to criticize the locals for voting for the GOP — even when it has a historically awful candidate, who no one should vote for — when the GOP is the only political party that’s showing up in a real and significant way.

Darke county isn’t going away — its population and demographics (97.5% white) have been remarkably stable for decades. It will likely always be a conservative area; so long as the GOP exists and at least nominally represents conservatism, it will like vote for the GOP and its presidential candidates. What will be interesting to see is how it, and the places like it, will handle the inexorable shift of the nation from white and conservative to multicultural and, if not entirely liberal, at least liberalish. It is of course already happening. This is very likely to be the third presidential election in a row where Darke county’s preferred candidate didn’t make it to the White House. Given the direction of the national demographics, it might be a while before one does.

155 Comments on “Reporting in From Trump Country”

  1. Those are very very kind and astute words to describe your neighbors who are Trump supporters and it’s refreshing given that my FB feed is filled with people asking everyone who supports Trump to unfriend them.

  2. Wouldn’t it be great if the people who want to govern, were more interested in making our lives better than winning?

  3. I have very dear friends (husband and wife) down in Union county, which like Darke is a GOP stronghold from way back. They’re registered Republicans because the only local races that matter are the primaries. Husband’s gone full-in for Gary Johnson.

  4. Drake County…Mel Brooks got it right.

    Jim: [consoling Bart] What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.

  5. So, I’m curious.. you say ‘the GOP is the only political party that’s showing up in a real and significant way’ – what do they do in the area? It sounds like a pretty solid lock even if they didn’t do anything. And you have pointed out that it would hardly be a good investment for the Dems..

  6. What’s interesting is how here in Maine you have a pretty solid liberal backing for Hilary in Portland and the south but once you get further north you not only see the Trump signs but the big goddamn Trump signs. Like 4′ x 6′. And I’m sure some of the installers of those are good people but the sheer volume of them scares the crap out of me.

  7. I take it as read that the Mallet is within reach and in its cozy.

    [After six tries at statement formulation] Damn, I haven’t had enough coffee for this.

  8. I live in the flip side of that. My neighborhood is so solidly Democrat that once you get past the primaries you hardly see any political signs at all. The few that do show up tend to be for things like school board. Candidates for both the Legislature and Congress for the GOP are sacrificial lambs that are just trying to earn political clout within the party.

  9. Fantastic piece, John. I read a lot of political stuff – and I mean A LOT – and this was one of the best. I would only add, as a fervent Bernie supporter who will vote for Hillary* reluctantly, I’m really tired of the Clinton supporters being such sore winners. They – or at least the ones I see on FB – continue to demonize Sanders supporters as naive, callow, obstructionist, sexist, blah blah blah, as if there’s no valid reason someone would have qualms about HRC. (1) Way to inspire people to vote for your candidate! (2) Sore winners are the worst.

    *even tho she spells her name properly with two L’s. HEINOUS ONE L PEOPLE MUST DIE!

  10. Wallowa County (where I live part-time) is very similar, though probably a much smaller population than Darke County. What’s going on for certain is a hard urban-rural split–there’s an article from Cracked out there in the interwebs that lays out the situation clearly. Even in the comments I’m seeing so far here I detect a solid urban element that looks down on rural folks (the reference to the Mel Brooks quote is just a blatant example). That’s a huge part of the problem–stereotyping of rural residents as less intelligent than urban residents, which leads to larger resentments and less willingness to cooperate on both sides.

    Meanwhile, the school districts here have a MUCH higher graduation rate than the rest of Oregon, especially the urban areas, albeit with lower poverty rates than their urban counterparts. And it ain’t coming from dumbing down the curriculum. There is a higher commitment and support for education in the population of Wallowa County overall than in the suburban district I used to work in.

    But there’s more to it. Your comment of “I wish my neighbors had both a better presidential candidate to support and a better party to field that candidate, one that (in my opinion) better represented the area’s generally conservative but essentially pragmatic nature. I think Darke county is the sort of place that the GOP has been gulling for years, relying on its appeal to the area’s social conservatism to push through policies that don’t help the locals at all” is spot on for Wallowa as well. The extremists have co-opted the conservative movement and gone through a purity purge binge that cuts out the pragmatic conservatives in places like Darke County and Wallowa County. I saw it happen in the Oregon Republican Party back in the 90s and it wasn’t a good thing. I think that if a new conservative but pragmatic party that appealed to that pragmatic conservative element arose, it’d knock the Republican party out of the running for good.

  11. Those good, kind, decent people would never cheat on their spouse, tell lies, not pay their bills, or sexually assault someone, but they’re okay with someone who does representing them on the world stage. The cognitive dissonance must be agonizing.

    But then, they are the single demographic that Trump has not attacked (oh wait, half of them are women). So they figure they’ll be okay, and all those Other People aren’t really their neighbors. At least not visibly. I’m sorry, they don’t get the same pass from me that you’re granting them. Decency is as decency does. When you’re only nice to people who look just like you and live right next door, then you’re limited in your empathy, and limited in *my* sympathy.

  12. I have recently moved from a large, culturally diverse urban area to an area similar to what you describe. Let me note here I did not move for the politics. The area I moved from also had people who help each other irrespective of language or race etc. What is really different is the lack of diversity. My new neighbors don’t really know many if any people of other national origins, races or religions other than different christian demoninations. This lack of exposure creates a huge lack of understanding problem. I also view public education a significant problem everywhere in this country. Lack of exposure and education leads to good people voting badly.

  13. I wonder… are your neighbors nice and pleasant to you and most everyone else because it’s a homogenous, almost entirely white, rural population? Would they be as nice to people who were gay? Black? Some kind of openly alternative person?

    I have some some friends of a friend who moved to Tennessee. Nice place. Being a boringly normals, cis straight white guy, I’d probably find it congenial and the people nice.. But they’re lesbian and definitely getting some bad reactions. That is, it’s easy to be nice and welcoming to those who are like you. The real test of that is how you act toward those who are different.

    I say this not to damn the people of Darke County whom I do not know, but to wonder how people can vote for an openly racist, misogynist, unqualified jackass yet be nice people and to me the most obvious reason is that they’re nice to everyone because they all are alike. A second plausible reason would be that they, like others, simply vote for whomever their party nominates. That’s not behavior I really understand but I know it happens.

    Finally, it might be interesting to compare the turnout numbers with previous presidential elections. I’m hearing from a few conservatives I know who can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton, don’t want to vote for Johnson and are simply thus not voting because they cannot pull the lever for Trump.

    PS: When you say What will be interesting to see is how it, and the places like it, will handle the inexorable shift of the nation from white and conservative to multicultural and, if not entirely liberal, at least liberalish. I think you’re missing that the country as a whole is doing that because people are moving to urban or close in suburban areas where they are exposed to a variety of viewpoints and other people. The rural areas aren’t so much changing their attitudes as becoming a smaller percentage of the population in most states. It’s one thing to damn someone in the abstract, another to do it when he or she is your neighbor or co-worker.

  14. While I don’t disagree, “they’re good people” argument always remind me of a well-known photograph from the Civil Rights era which you likely have seen: an elderly woman in Klan robes, the front of the hood pushed back, joyfully kissing her baby grandchild. Her love and affection for the baby radiates out of the photograph. I do not doubt that she was a kindly gramma to her family and probably ministered to her sick neighbors and brought them food when they were grieving – a good, solid person in her day-to-day life. And at the same time, she was a tangible, active instrument of hate and destruction.

    I, too, have family in places like Darke County. It can be a difficult circle to square.

  15. My guess is, if you could be a fly on the wall when the topic of Kapaernick came up, or black lives matter, or trans people using bathrooms, or the muslim religion, the conversation wouldnt be the sort to make it into a rose colored norman rockwell painting.

    “Wonderful” would not be the word that comes to mind.

  16. I live in a primarily Republican district, but fortunately one that has elected moderate ‘pubs to office for a while. Radicals don’t do well here. Dave Reichart is a pretty good congressman, even if he does work for the Evil Empire, and was a great county sheriff. I’ve voted for him and for the other guy a couple times. If the democrats can’t find better candidates (the last four have been terrible) I don’t think he’s going anywhere soon.

    I can’t see Trump carrying the district, though.

  17. I’ve always bounced around in my own views and positions, refusing to set myself as part of a party. But my fam is pretty conservative, and my brother specifically is (though he’s wondering what the hell happened to his party–don’t know who he’ll vote for but it won’t be Trump) I’ve several conservative friends who are terrified of Hillary, which baffles the heck out of me. Most of them are not Trump supporters but feel at sea without a candidate they can stomach. I’m very tired of smug villifying from any group for another because it’s ugly–and it corrodes those who do it. I do wish we could throttle the fear factory that’s so focused on making people fear and hate blindly.

  18. This is the point where I again remind everyone here that a cis straight white non Muslim guy is going to find it vastly easier to forgive people for voting for someone like Trump than LGBT people, nonwhite people, and to a lesser extent (given how white women are voting) non male people.

    They’re never out to hurt you personally. But they are going to hurt people like me. Gently, and with respect, you might feel differently if you were not a cis straight white non muslim guy. Even if they don’t treat someone like that badly in public, they’re voting for someone who’s going to, and a party that’s going to. Your choice might raise their taxes.

    There’s nothing wrong with going along to get along with them. I get that. I’m in the same situation. I’d help my conservative neighbors if they needed a hand, and they might help me. Until of course I got outed as non heterosexual, in a poly relationship, etc.

  19. Thanks to Wikileaks, the folks in Trump Country now have a much clearer understanding how much the bigots surrounding Hillary Clinton, like John Podesta, hate people like them. The Democrats really do have an uphill climb, if not an upside down climb, to win over white rural and working class folk.

  20. Though I agree that Trump will handily win Darke County and counties like it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump’s share be down around 60%, rather than the ~70% that Romney and McCain got. If that happens, I would expect most of the 10% difference to be split between Gary Johnson, and Republicans who stay home this election (or only show up to vote down ballot).

  21. I live in a liberal college town in an otherwise red state. Our local politics has been dominated forever by Democrats but the state goobers gerrymandered our city with five spidery fingers extending out into the surrounding counties such that our voice isn’t really heard in state and federal elections.

  22. So you’re saying you live among people who actively vote against their best interests because of narrow mindedness, but you don’t live among idiots. Uhuh. Sorry John. If seventy percent of your neighbours vote Turmp then 70 percent of them are idiots. They aren’t any better than all the “make sci-fi great again” useful idiots that got put in front of Beale’s cart.

  23. I live in a similar piece of the country. (Wyoming county, NY.) One thing I’ve noticed is that more Gary Johnson signs have been going up. And I wonder how well he will do? (Still Trump signs out number Johnson by at least 10:1)

  24. “… the GOP is the only political party that’s showing up in a real and significant way.”

    Well, the GOP is the only party that’s campaigning there in a real and significant way. I’d be willing to bet my eyeteeth that if you looked at the ways the Republican policies (and vision) impact Darke County vs the ways that the Democratic policies and vision impact Darke County, there’s only one group that’s actually showing up and it ain’t the GOP. But the Republicans are playing on fear and resentment to make people ignore the facts in front of them, like an absentee dad who shows up on weekends to win points with the kids by letting them ignore bedtimes.

  25. I’m with Lym. It’s only a “reasonable” disagreement when the politics isn’t blatantly and explicitly campaigning against your humanity.

    TBH I’m not sure what the effect of political outreach in the form of tents or whatever is supposed to be anyway. Not in a “YOU LIE!!! I DISBELIEVE YOU!!!” way, but in a “this is a totally foreign concept to me” way. I throw away all the ads I get in the mail (although I do note the ones that are literally racist garbage, and make a special note that I ought to stay away from that lot). I’ve never been approached by a door-to-door canvasser (except when I was a kid living with my parents near a big city, and being first-generation, we pretended we weren’t home and waited until they went away). I don’t think I’ve ever received a phone call about political matters either, although admittedly I hate phones and avoid answering them whenever possible. And I don’t go to rallies.

    As far as that Cracked article, I’ve seen people saying that suburbs actually count as rural because they aren’t part of big cities, which is strange to me because I grew up in a suburb (for the majority of my childhood, anyway) and it did not seem to at all match the description of “rural” living that the Cracked author presents. And it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all with that statistic about Trump supporters having higher median income than Clinton supporters.

  26. Why did you move there? This isn’t a snarky, bitchy question, but you didn’t grow up in OH, and so why move to where you are? (I spent 8 years in Ohio, in Columbus, and I’d LOVE the chance to move back there, so I’m not anti-midwest). Why choose a place so radically different from your own beliefs when it seems you could have chosen just about anywhere?

  27. Kevin, very little Trump promises to do with have a negative impact on John’s neighbors. Sure the US will become something akin to post-brexit britain in terms of xenophobia. LGBTQ rights will be set back if anything makes it to a SOCTUS Trump appoints judges to, planned parenthoods will be shut down, but John’s neighbors and their kids can afford abortions if they accidentally get pregnant. And so on. Trump will probably lower their taxes.

    All in all, a net win for them. They’re not stupid, what they are is either bigoted or tolerant of bigotry, which is functionally the same thing.

  28. I live in suburban Philadelphia, which the news keeps telling me is the most battlegroundy part of this supposedly battleground state. I haven’t seen a single yard sign in my neighborhood for either candidate, even though there had been plenty in past elections. Before last night, I hadn’t seen any signs at all, but I’ve now seen them in the green space next to the highway on-ramp, not on anybody’s property. It’s like the people around here don’t want to admit their support for either candidate.

  29. It’s tough to know that your neighbors basically try to be good people, but that they reflect a, well, at best narrow-minded outlook, if not an outright bigoted outlook. I live in a rural area and it is an exemplar of why Tennessee is a red state, although not QUITE as bad as some other areas. I have had several experiences lately that have reinforced that, yes, as “good” as my neighbors can appear to me, that experience may not extend to persons of other ethnic background or sexual orientation. It’s personally very distressing and this election cycle has made me take a hard look at these issues and how I deal with them. I believe that many people here support Trump out of fear…fear of change, fear of difference, just plain fear (although they would never admit that). People have to want to change, and the first step has to be admitting that something is wrong with the way they are. I don’t think that is likely to occur in my lifetime, regrettably.

  30. As the years go by, I’m increasingly aware that the period of my childhood and youth- the 1950s and 60s- was something of an anomaly in the history of American politics. The post-WW2 economic boom and the Cold War combined in a very serendipitous way. One provided a sense of confidence that there were few or no challenges that we as a nation did not have the resources and the capability to surmount. The other provided a kind of external, existential, unambiguous threat that defined focus for the bulk of the left/right ideological spectrum, and raised the stakes to motivate pragmatism.

    It didn’t keep political parties from the usual shenanigans- there were plenty of scandals, folly, and bitter fights over everything from HUAC to the Adams bribery scandals to the Bay of Pigs lunacy. But it did motivate a certain awareness that there was a value to maintaining the overall reputation of the U.S. Government- the *whole* government in all its branches and functions. And that while partisan fighting could focus on how well or poorly each party’s elected or appointed representatives served the overall ends of the U.S. Government, the government itself was a thing of value, important to the well-being of the American people.

    Secondly, for whatever reason, it seemed important back then for politicians and bureaucrats to behave like, well, (as I thought of it then) grown-ups. It may have been a little easier to maintain that image in an era without cell-phone cameras and the Internet, when the major media players were co-conspirators in maintaining a certain sense of decorum, of course. But even so, politicians rarely went out of their way to behave like middle-school bullies in the context of electoral politics.

    To a certain extent, those things flavored mainstream political discourse and political life. I can remember being told to ALWAYS vote Democratic, because you could never trust Republicans to have the best interests of the working people in mind- everyone “knew” they were the Party of the board rooms and country clubs. But there was also a pragmatic awareness that they were part of America, too- you had to check them, push back against their agenda, work for the policies that would empower people *outside* the board rooms and country clubs.

    They were sonsabitches, but they were our own American sonsabitches and they’d fight to protect their disproportionate share of the pie, but they were grownups and when push came to shove they’d compromise and dicker and horsetrade and work out whatever deal kept the wheels on and the bus on the straightaway.

    And so would the Democrats.

    And there were always factions, even back then, that bubbled and fizzed within each party, pushing back against compromise, claiming the bastards at the top were selling out, trying to shove the ideological balance further from the middle. Plenty of factions, splinter groups, intra-partisan backstabbing and maneuvering.

    But when the quadrennial Conventions were over, and the nominees were anointed, the grown-ups were in charge. Us younger folks thought that was just terrible, back then.

    Now I’m kinda nostalgic for it.

  31. Scalzi: “Do I live among idiots? No. I live among wonderful people who will clear your driveway when it snows and watch your pets when you go away, who love and care for their friends and families, who are decent people in their day-to-day lives”

    You cant define morality/decency or intelligence by how people treat their personal friends and family. Thats just tribalism. A persons morality would be defined by how they treat “other”. As for intelligence, Trump will do nothing to help farmers, and his policies will probably destroy the economy, which can only hurt farmers, so not sure that “intelligent” applies either.

    What they are, is friendly to people they know who are just like them. Outside that sphere, they appear to be taken in by Trump’s propaganda machine that is pushing fear, bigotry, scarcity, and so on, which doesnt exactly make them intelligent.

    I grew up in farm country. I know a lot of people who support Trump. I also remember over the years that these same people would occaisonally let slip some racist, homophobic, or islamophobic comment. Im none of those, so it doesnt affect me personaly, but it sickens me and breaks my heart.

    Thing is, since I’m straight, white, male, and not muslim, I am in no position to forgive them or be generous in excusing their behavior. Likewise, I am in no position to forgive Dylan Roof, because I am not his target.

  32. “I wish my neighbors had both a better presidential candidate to support and a better party to field that candidate, one that (in my opinion) better represented the area’s generally conservative but essentially pragmatic nature.”

    Sorry to break it to you John but the primary numbers tell a different story. Despite Kasich taking Ohio overall, Darke county went to Trump (42.6%). In fact, almost twice as many of your neighbors (5,437) voted for Trump than took part in the Democrat Primary (2,301). Add in Cruz’s numbers (13.9%) and more than half of your county’s Republican voters wanted to send a human garbage fire to the White House. Pragmatic indeed.

    But don’t worry, I’m sure that while their choice for president is rolling back LGBTQ rights, banning Muslims, mass deporting Mexican immigrants, re-introducing stop and frisk policies to the inner cities, and groping interns, your neighbors will still be doing the decent thing and clearing your driveway once in awhile.

  33. I’ve also got family who will be voting for Trump. I still love them and get along with them just fine. Even on occasion have great times with them. But I won’t give them a pass on their support of Trump. It is not the fault of the Democratic party that they support Trump and the Republican Party and demonize the Democratic Party.

    Yes, they are a product of their evolutionary heritage and their environment, just like everybody else, but at some point we need to hold each other responsible for our actions. Allowing yourself to be played by the Republican propaganda machine (or anyone of course) like a carny plays an easy mark even while others are not only pointing out the lies, but showing you where to find the raw data that demonstrates they are lies, should not be forgiven or excused. Just because a person is a sweet elderly man who would give me the shirt off his back if I needed it shouldn’t mean, and doesn’t in my book, that I have to respect his choice to support a Trump for high political office. It is a form of lying, it is condescending and I don’t think it does anybody any good.

  34. Definitely an opportunity for a new conservative party to form, in places like this. But it would require some sort of national coordination with a lot of local feet on the ground activity. Not the easiest thing in the world to bring about.

  35. I came here to post the Cracked article, but it’s already been done. It’s far from the only article I’ve seen that explains why Trump has supporters, despite it defying logic. The sad part is that Trump’s economic and tax policies will do more damage to the rural communities, and that the people who support him, in spite of his intolerable views, won’t listen to logic. An example of the more fervent supporters:

  36. For the first time in my life I’m perceiving antisemitism as a real force in America. A lot of it’s a direct effect of the Trump campaign. Aside from lip-service to support of Israel, it’s been pushing antisemitic tropes and accepting open support from groups like Stormfront and the KKK.

    I’m sure your neighbors are nice to you and yours, but if they’re supporting Trump. they’re not gonna be nice to me.

  37. “There aren’t a whole lot of one percenters around here to benefit from the fiscal and economic policies the GOP (and Trump) want to promote”

    Oh, come on, that’s ridiculous. “Republicans are the party of the rich” has been getting less and less true for a long time, and it’s completely broken down in this election. Trump is a populist. He’s the polar opposite of an elitist.

    Trump wants to shut down trade and immigration with the express purpose of benefiting the kind of people who live in rural counties and are reliant on farming and manufacturing, at the expense of urban elites who trade with foreigners and immigrants rather than compete with them. The fact that those Trump policies would be a disaster for the people he’s claiming to help is beside the point. They believe believe those policies will help them.

  38. Well said Josh Jasper. I live in a small-ish city, in American terms, with good public transport and lots of public life on the street. As a result, one sees and interacts with all kinds of people – differing in age, wealth, ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc. – as one goes about the business of daily life. In the US, where so many people move from place to place in metal boxes (cars) and which is so populous, it’s all to easy to live s life where you see nobody but people like you, and/or see “the others” like exhibits in a museum. That makes empathy and community harder. You have to work hard to climb out of your box.

  39. I think “they’re stupid” and “they’re not stupid” or “they’re bigots” and “they’re not bigots” and “they’re whatever” but “not whatever else” sort of misses the point.

    Wonderful people do not-wonderful things. Most of the people committing the Rwandan genocide were probably also, in other circumstances, wonderful. I don’t say this to compare them to Trump supporters, but to point out an extreme example.

    People are full of ambiguities.

    “Do I live among idiots? No. I live among wonderful people who will clear your driveway when it snows and watch your pets when you go away, who love and care for their friends and families, who are decent people in their day-to-day lives and are folks I am proud to call neighbors. ”

    Yes. And simultaneously, you live among people who are, to varying degrees, chill with abridging my rights. It’s okay for others to be really angry about that, including directly angry at the people who are wonderful people who clear your driveway when it snows.

    Let me make this personal and super-specific: There’s a degree of overt antisemitism going on in this election that has not been so high during my lifetime. What I have to deal with this election cycle is not “well, I guess everyone in the world is shit” but that “people who are nice, and wonderful, who take care of your pets, are also okay with an increasingly visible antisemitism.” It doesn’t take away their wonderfulness, but it does… change how I can trust and move through the world.

    Luckily, I got to learn that lesson viscerally and personally a couple of years ago, when I watched a group of people adjust themselves around antisemitic rhetoric I would have expected them to consider a bright, unacceptable line. They still love their spouses and children. But it doesn’t make the hateful stuff go away either.

  40. Here are my very simple thoughts on an extremely complicated topic which probably has a lot of local variability:

    Not much can be done to help the parts of the country that are currently withering economically.
    The Republicans are willing to play on underlying racism to get votes without offering much of substance to these sectors. The Democrats don’t generally play this game, possibly because they are better people, but also possibly because it would undermine their national strategy in other areas of the country. Trump’s base are screwed. But they can screw us back, via Federalism and people like Trump.

    And no, I don’t have a great idea about how we can help these people. And yes, a lot of them make me not particularly care to give a damn about them. However, even in Trump country, 3 or 4 out of 10 people vote they way you want them to vote. And there are plenty of minorities and QUiLTBAG folk and disabled and, heck, sensible women and nice guys who are trapped there for one reason or another. So I don’t particularly want to give up on a large part of nation yet. What must be done?

  41. @Lawrence D’Anna – Trump is not a populist. Trump spouts some populist rhetoric to garner support, but his policies (the few that have been outlined so far) benefit the wealthy (repeal the estate tax, eliminate carried interest, etc.). Republicans by and large still rely on “trickle down” economics, which has never helped the working class.

  42. Lawrence: ” Republicans are the party of the rich” has been getting less and less true for a long time,”

    Trump wants to drop corporate taxes from 35% to 15%. That will benefit no one but the one percenters. And it will destroy the government and economy.

    So, yeah, “party of the rich” is perfectly apt.

    And no, jobs will not “trickle down” as a result of those tax cuts. They pitch it that way to pretend they’re for the little guy. But trickle down has been disproven over and over again.

  43. @ Avilyn

    Are we talking about Trump’s innermost thoughts and true priorities, or are we talking about the message Trump voters hear and care about?

    If we’re talking about his inner thoughts, fine. He’s not a populist. He’s a Trumpulist, because the only person who’s welfare he really cares about is his own.

    If we’re talking about his public message though, you’re just amazingly wrong. Trump doesn’t talk much about taxes. Trump voters aren’t thinking about taxes. If they do think about them they think they ought to be lower, and that’s about it. They certainly aren’t focused on carried interest. What they care about economically is trade an immigration. Just because Trump was asked about taxes at some point and he regurgitated up something that sounds vaguely like what a republican would say about taxes does not make him an elitist.

  44. A coworker of mine broke it down for me this way: he could either vote for a competent politician who would spend her term pushing through policies that he thoroughly disagreed with, or he could vote for an admitted dumpster fire of a human being who has at least promised policies that align with his own (reduced taxes, reduced government spending). Any other vote would be one thrown away.

    As an R in Maryland his vote pretty much counts for nothing anyway, let’s be honest, but I did feel for him when he put his choices in that light.

  45. Kat Ling: His choices make sense, if you ignore Trump’s positions on international relations, nuclear weapons, global warming, civil and human rights, and the rule of law.

    Risking annihilation or a police state in exchange for lower taxes and reduced spending looks to me like a poor trade-off.

  46. I just read a very timely article on this subject by Chris Offutt in the latest issue of Harper’s:

    He makes the interesting point that one of Trump’s strengths is how he appeals to the large and growing number of people who rightly feel that they have been betrayed, ignored, or outright abused by traditional politicians. Consider, for example, the thousands of Americans who have had their jobs exported overseas with no compensation provided: it’s hard to buy cheap Chinese goods at Walmart when you can’t pay the rent or afford nutritious food. Maybe if the government had provided incentives to American manufacturers to keep the jobs at home, or to create new jobs and train people to fill them, there’d be less resentment. It’s also hard to GAF about Democratic Party policy when you’re so far underwater on your mortgage that the only light is from the vent-dwelling extremophile organisms who took over the neighbor’s mortgage and when your investments and retirement seem increasingly jeopardized by a government that would rather protect the Cadillacs and mansions of piratical bank presidents than punish them for doing their best to loot the financial system and make the common Joe and Jane pay for it.

    There are also all kinds of issues related to pride in self-sufficiency and self-reliance that Trump taps into, not to mention pandering to the basest fears. Having read Offutt’s article, I finally *really* understood why people who are not idiots feel they have no choice other than to hold their nose and support a candidate who reeks to high heaven. This election is widely seen among left-leaning folk like me as the inevitable comeuppance of the Republican party — payback for decades of arrogance and exploitation. But Democrats shouldn’t sleep lightly. The fact that this horse race (between an old gray mare and a horse’s ass) is still too close to call should send them a clear message that they’ve ignored this large group of voters for far too long. Next time, the Republicans might actually run a candidate who doesn’t smell like roadkill on a hot August afternoon…

  47. @Greg

    Trump’s message is not about taxes. It’s about trade and immigration.

    Nobody advocates “trickle down”. “Trickle down” is a lazy laugh line used by democrats to straw-man a republican position that they are sure is too stupid and venal for them to bother trying to understand.

    You’re wrong about the corporate tax. First of all it would not destroy the government or the economy. Most of the other developed countries have already lowered their corporate income tax and nothing dramatic happened. At this point ours is one of the highest. Secondly, it’s not at all clear that the corporate tax is incident* on the rich. If you think it is obvious, go read some tax theory. Thirdly, if you think the corporate income tax is so great, please explain to me why you think equity financing should be taxed at 35% while debt financing is taxed at 0%.

    [*] that is, that an increase in the corporate tax rate would make the overall tax regime more progressive.

  48. Yes, I live in Miami county, just next to Darke. We are just as conservative, but I did notice that after the release of the 2005 tapes, several places in our neighborhood took down their Trump Pence signs. They still have up the Davidson and Portman signs, but maybe, maybe, finally enough is enough.

  49. Okay, I read the “Cracked” article.

    And it brought back memories of my own experiences of living in a rural small town, a one-industry place with the churches (and bars… notice that’s not included in the Cracked article…) at the center of “community life.”

    And yes, it’s miserable.

    And yes, they really do think of the rest of the world as “city folks” and “liberal elites” who are characterized primarily by their indifference to the suffering of the rural folks, and their contempt for the rural folks, and their complete incomprehension of the misery inflicted on the rural folks by the uncaring rest of the world off in their Cities of Crime and Diversity…

    Naaaaaaahhh… I’m just yankin’ on ya.

    That wasn’t much like my experience of living in a small rural community. Oh, there were elements of that. But the Cracked article, as far as I can tell, went for the extreme version.

    The extreme version that’s been stoked and enabled by the rhetoric of the televangelists with private jets to support and the hate-radio jocks with advertising slots to sell, and the Murdoch apparatchiks looking for metaphorical severed arteries to sell clicks and eyeballs.

    The Republican Party has staked out the “conservative” end of the ideological spectrum for most of the 20th Century and all of the 21st so far. The Democratic Party had a pretty good grip on the “progressive” end for most of that time.

    It may be more relevant than the notion of malevolently-misunderstood-and-mocked-rural-victims-of-terrible-injustice depicted in the Cracked article, to think about the realities of what THAT territorial identification means.

    It’s about change, and discomfort with change, and the problems of resilience and adaptation to change versus resistance to change.

    Because change, itself, isn’t going to stop happening. It’ll keep accelerating.

    In the time prior to mass communications and mass transportation, urban areas still changed more quickly than rural areas, but it was a very slow rate of change (by today’s standards) and it was possible for rural areas to ignore it entirely, and change (if at all) at their own glacial pace.

    Rural areas have always been more “naturally” conservative- and while you can argue all you want that “conservative” doesn’t equate with “change-resistant,” the pragmatic fact is that a focus on “conserving” what has historically worked, what is familiar, what is regarded as good and right and proper and beneficial– is inherently a change-resistant outlook.

    A very large part of the problems rural communities experience- the poverty, the economic devastation, the brain drain, the sense of abandonment and victimization- is directly related to taking the path that always forks toward “sticking with what worked for our parents/grandparents/ancestors whether it makes any current economic or social sense, or not.”

    Because there ARE rural communities who have formed co-ops in the wake of the Big Employer leaving them behind. There ARE rural communities who’ve welcomed immigrants and migrant workers, and built locally-sustainable small businesses and industries. There ARE rural communities that have embraced locally-produced sustainable energy generation.

    Just not very many. It doesn’t come naturally to the conservative mindset. When “what worked for our parents/grandparents” stops working, the choice between “take risks, try different things, CHANGE…” and “fight back to keep things the same, find a replacement Big Employer, rail at the Agents of Destruction” seems obvious.

    So they vote Trump.

  50. I think some of you might be under the impression I’m trying to excuse a Trump vote by my neighbors noting that they are wonderful people. My thought about this is: Heh. Really, no. I’ve made it clear here and elsewhere that voting for Trump means you’re condoning his racism, sexism, etc, and the racism/sexism, etc of the worst of the people he’s enabled. I’m pretty non-squishy on that fact (you could ask my neighbors about that, if you like).

    What living among my political opposites does, I will note, is allow me the opportunity to see there is complexity, or at least contradiction, in their lives, and that — to put it as charitably as possible — there’s a difference between their personal lives and their political views. I and I suspect most people who frequent here see it as a massive disconnect, or hypocrisy. If you asked many of my neighbors, they would possibly say to you that they see it as the difference between what an individual chooses to accept and what a government should be allowed to demand.

    This is not an unbridgeable gulf in terms of points of views, and times and opinions change. But as I note, here in Darke county, it’s effectively a political monoculture (as well as a cultural one, as the area is 97.5% white and 85+% high school education only). Times and opinions will change more slowly, and the political monoculture that exists here is one I think is toxic, and happy to play up fear rather than prep for the future. This doesn’t help Darke county any, I will say.

    I don’t think anyone reading here should excuse my neighbors for their vote, based on my personal knowledge of them. Be angry that they’re voting for a terrible person with terrible policies. I’m not pleased about it myself, and again, I’m pretty vocal about it. I am offering context for their vote — which, again, is not an excuse. It is a reminder there’s a lot going on here, informing their vote. I think it’s all right to attempt understanding, even as one opposes a view.

  51. Understanding is good. But one can understand, say, the desperate unhappiness of the German people in the 1920s, or in the postbellum US South, without accepting in the least the choices they made.

  52. “I am offering context for their vote — which, again, is not an excuse. It is a reminder there’s a lot going on here, informing their vote. I think it’s all right to attempt understanding, even as one opposes a view.”

    I think there’s somehow a chastening tone coming through, and maybe I’m entirely concocting that. But I guess it made me feel mildly defensive, which may be what other people are responding to, also. Not that I think understanding people’s behavior is wrong, and I appreciate that, but I guess I felt like the post was intimating that most people are doing their anger-to-understanding balancing wrong. It somehow felt like your saying “they’re wonderful people” was supposed to be a surprise, when in fact, I think many people from underrepresented demographics are well aware of the constant, miserable tension between wonderfulness and aspects of bigotry. I apologize for misreading.

    ETA: I reread. I don’t know why I fixated on that paragraph. Well, defensiveness, I guess. Anyway, yes, Democrats — or whatever grassroots liberal program might emerge in the future– need to stop abandoning swathes of the country, although I don’t know how to make that happen. We need to appeal to the wonderfulness part of them.

  53. I have otherwise sweet, intelligent cousins and friends who think that I’ve drunk the liberal kool aid, (Jim Jones reference). Most of them are retired, and worried about the future of their children and grandchildren. I think that they are wrong and the candidate they have is vile. But I wish them well.
    Most of them have a cognitive disconnect which prevents them from seeing who their policies hurt my brother, who was gay. But they have always been helpful when he or others they know need help. These are people who don’t see a better option.
    So I agree and support your views.
    My dad’s last church was in a county that was so republican that when mom registered as a democrat, the registrar said, Oh good, would you be a poll watcher. John and Jane don’t ever want to do it, and we need one.”

  54. Common human decency exists among those people who have supported the worst atrocities in history as well as the way small assholish behavior has been a part of the most glorious movements to increase human liberty and freedom.

    The thing is, on either side of the equation, one does not excuse the other. Helping people shovel doesn’t balance out voting for Trump. Giving tons of money to charity would not balance out murder. One is good, and the other is bad, and all of this exists within both the same complex person and the same complex people.

    Darke County is the part of America that helped bring us Donald Trump. They are responsible for their votes. It is not some nebulous GOP, some people elsewhere. It is the helpful neighbors doing. I can very comfortably say that voting for Donald Trump is a horrid thing to do that will reflect badly on someone personally, while saying also that this should never be the limit on extent to how I view them.

    There is nothing unique about Darke county in their decency. I am happy that they are decent people most of the time, like most people everywhere. To vote for Trump, is deplorable and should be held as such. Both sides are true, to try and reduce to one or the other is poor logic.

  55. I live in a heavily Republican county, but I’ll say it’s been nice to see the ‘Vote Clinton’ and ‘Republican Voting Democrat for President’ signs in my neighborhood right next to signs for the state and local republican candidates.

  56. Lawrence : ” Nobody advocates “trickle down”. “Trickle down” is a lazy laugh line used by democrats to straw-man a republican position”

    From Trumps mouth:
    “Under my plan I will be reducing taxes tremendously from thirty five percent to fifteen percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan.”

    Sounds like trickle down to me. Oh, sorry, you mean “supply side economics”?

    From wikipedia: David Stockman, who as Reagan’s budget director championed Reagan’s tax cuts at first, but then became critical of them, told journalist William Greider that the “supply-side economics” is the trickle-down idea: “It’s kind of hard to sell ‘trickle down,’ so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really ‘trickle down.’ Supply-side is ‘trickle-down’ theory

    NPR reporting says this cut will reduce federal revenue by 5 trillion dollars. Which will destroy the government, but thats what republicans and libertarians want, so they see it as a good thing.

    Also, unemployment is at a record low of 4.9%. Trump wants a historic drop in corporate taxes to employ those last few percent?

    How about we keep the revenue coming in and we use it to fix all the n3glected infrastructure in the US. That will create a few jobs. And it would be nice if most of our bridges werent substandard.

  57. He’s also up against the second-least popular presidential candidate ever…

    One thing – among many – that I really hate about this formulation is that it seem to imply they’re really close whereas in reality Clinton is, in some polls, a little bit less popular than Carter while Trump is, in most polls, a little more popular than Cholera.

  58. Scalzi:”I think it’s all right to attempt understanding, even as one opposes a view.”

    Uh, so rereading your original post looking for attempts to understand/explain their vote for Trump, I see:

    1. They’re nice people at the personal level. (This doesnt actually help explain their vote at all, but whatever).

    2. Hillary is unpopular (which is to say, they believe the propaganda about her)

    3. The Democrat party has zero local presence.

    Honestly, I dont think that explains much at all. The biggest drivers for folks to vote conservative is a scarcity based worldview or a dogmatic moral worldview that resists even common sense change. I.e. we cant afford (insert any government program they dont like). And Those People are ruining everything.

    I think you could put a Democrat office in your home town main street and it wouldnt make any difference. The thing that has to be overcome to swing Darke county to the left is change the scarcity worldview to something more reality based and dump the religious dogma that drives social issue nonsense.

    Creationism was finally thrown out of an ohio public school just last month. A start, but a ways to go. As for the scarcity worldview, i dunno if there is any solid solution until we figure our way to the post scarcity world. But bringing us back from the recession was a good start. Maybe regulate some things so it doesnt happen again.

    As for Hillary, I really dont get how conservatives dont like her. She is probably as conservative than Bush Sr. I think the only explanation there is simply identity politics: she’s not on our team, so we dont like her.

    Actually i just checked and political compass does show Hillary in roughly the same position as Bush Sr

    But the lack or presence of a local Democrat campaign office? I dont think thats going to make much of a difference how anyone votes. Dont know how to google for any kind of statistics to prove or disprove that, though.

  59. @Greg

    If that’s “trickle down” than you must think any tax cut whatsoever is “trickle down”. He didn’t say anything about trickling, he said it would be good for the economy. Which is the primary reason anyone would ever propose a tax cut.


    Oh wait apparently that’s exactly what you think.

    Listen, “supply side” isn’t a specific thing, it’s not a specific theory or argument. “demand side” is what’s specific. “Demand side” is Keynsian, it explains poor economic performance as a coordination problem in spending across the whole economy. “Supply side” is just anything else. In the specific context you’re using it, talking about tax cuts, the argument is that high marginal rates on things like investment, wages, and equity financing hurt the economy by redirecting incentives away from productive uses and towards (on the margin) more leisure and tax avoidance. Yes, that’s a “supply side” theory, because it’s not about monetary coordination failure, but it’s not a “trickle down” theory.

    Just because David Stockman changed his mind about tax policy and decided to use a lazy straw man to express himself doesn’t mean it’s not a lazy straw man.

    On the “5 trillion”, No, you’re wrong. NPR reported that all the proposed trump tax changes put together would reduce revenue by 500 billion, which they multiplied by “over 10 years” and you repeated without their weasel-worded qualifier. NPR is universally awful on economics.

    In any case it’s pointless to add up the revenue changes of Trump’s tax proposal because congress always passes something much more complicated and larded up than what a presidential candidate proposes. Tax rates change all the time, revenues change much less:

    Yes unemployment is low. Trump’s argument that lowering the tax rate will reduce unemployment is stupid. The reason to do it is to increase productivity.

    Infrastructure spending should be decided purely on cost-benefit grounds. If the price of repairing bridges is worth the benefit of having a well-maintained bridge, then we should repair them. Any demand-side effect will be offset by the Fed. Monetary policy is the right place to address demand-side issues.

  60. Greg:

    “As for Hillary, I really dont get how conservatives dont like her. She is probably as conservative than Bush Sr. I think the only explanation there is simply identity politics: she’s not on our team, so we dont like her.”

    Bush Sr:

    No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.


    [did not say that]


    [bad words]

  61. One more —


    Bush Sr.

    “The day after the [1983 VP debate with Geraldine Ferraro] the Vice President referred to the previous evening: “I tried to kick a little ass.” Hours later his staff showed up on the press plane wearing buttons that said, “We kicked a little ass.”

    The Bushes didn’t understand how offensive it was to women. “When the debate was over, the women in the press corps stood up and cheered Ferraro,” recalled Jeb Bush. Female journalists resented Bush’s chauvinistic treatment of Ferraro, which showed them something they had not seen before: his discomfort in accepting women as peers. They started to notice that there were no professional women on Bush’s staff who held positions comparable to the men. “All the women were either secretaries or gofer,” recalled one woman journalist.”


    “If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.”

  62. Rachel, obviously, putting all of a person’s political ideology into a 2 dimensional chart is going to simplify some things. They put Jill Stein fairly close to Bernie Sanders, but they dont have an axis for “batshit crazy”.

    Hillary’s foreign policy stance is pretty close to bush sr. Both are Hawks. Both would likely work with multilateral consensus to achieve military goals, as opposed to W’s unilateral approach. Bush Sr had realistic goals for military, didnt invade Iraq because he knew how bad it would be. Hillary, mm.. maybe along those lines.

    Bush Sr had two big domestic advances: the american disability act, and the clean air act, both moving the country in the direction of progress. I have no doubt that Hillary will likely do the same domestically. Both Bush and Hillary will be limited by what they can do because of a weak economy, so probably see some simiarities there as well.

    Are they different? Will they have substantial differences? I am sure they will. But when grading on the curve that is history, I think they are lining up to have similar overall feelings to their administrations.

  63. the Brexit vote appeared to be driven by desperation and hopelessness in the hinterlands, aggravated by a complete abdication of journalistic responsibility by every major media outlet including the BBC. It seems to be the same demographic behind Trump, with the same media failures. As always it is only Paul Krugman that is doing any kind of policy analysis, instead of horse-race commentary.

    Late-model capitalism has become a Marxist caricature of itself. Hillary doesn’t have a good story on this, although her policies have moved refreshingly further left since Bernie. In any case she has been ceaselessly vilified by the media and R’s for decades now – if you weren’t paying attention that is all you would know. Hillary hate has been created by the media’s Clinton Rules and sexism.

    I am saddened by the continuing support for Trump. One poll said 51% of white men support him. Personally I’m considering gender reassignment surgery, or possibly racial reassignment, once that emerges from the realm of fiction.

  64. There was a traffic jam on my way home from work today, so I turned off into Hudson’s Bend, Texas, to kill some time until they untangled it. My favorite brewery is not open on Tuesday (damn it) so I wandered down the road looking for a place to kill some time.

    I found a new-looking store with a gravel parking lot, and turned it. Turns out, it was the real-world storefront for this site –

    So, all camo, military, right-wing to the max. Every truck in the parking lot had a Hillary For Prison sticker. I went in anyway.

    Everybody in there was just as nice as could be. Huge beards, military tats, the business is all veterans. I hung out for about 45 minutes until traffic cleared, and enjoyed every minute. Our politics were probably not close, but we also had huge amounts of common ground we could talk about.

    What I would love to see is a candidate who makes it a priority to heal some of the divisions in this country. Unfortunately, I know Trump is not that candidate, and I doubt very much that it’s high on Clinton’s list, even if it was something she was capable of. Which, again, I doubt.

  65. I am saddened by the continuing support for Trump. One poll said 51% of white men support him. Personally I’m considering gender reassignment surgery, or possibly racial reassignment, once that emerges from the realm of fiction.

    I’m grateful for the privilege of being the unmarked group, which means that I don’t have to be defined by what other white men do, I can be perceived as an individual first and foremost. (Like most of my privileges, I don’t want to give it up — instead I want it expanded to cover everybody so that it becomes a universal right.)

    who love and care for their friends and families

    Apparently I wasn’t the only one in this thread to mentally add “(only)” to this phrase when considering how Trump support affects people who *aren’t* your neighbors’ friends and families. Compassion for your actual brother is easy. Considering all men your brothers (uh, and all women your sisters, it’s an old phrase and it shows) and actually living that way, that’s hard. I respect people who do that even if they’re doing it on the basis of a religion I don’t share. But someone who lives that way can’t possibly support Donald Trump.

    P.S. I would say Trump is a fake populist who doesn’t give a damn about the issues that economically affect American workers, but in fact Trump cares deeply about better jobs, pay and rights for workers — in that he’s against those things. The “con” in “con man” is short for “confidence”, and Trump projects confidence like no other in order to obtain your neighbors’ confidence — and then abuse it. And I don’t think that trying to sugarcoat that does your neighbors or anyone else any favors, even if they would feel humiliated to admit being fooled.

  66. John, the problem is that your neighbours are at best okay with the racism, misogyny and insanity. And doubtless many of these nice people who shovel driveways and pet-sit are the same nice people who find racist photoshops of President Obama to be the height of hilarity. I’m not saying hate them, shout at them and rail against them, but please don’t soft-sell the the fact that they too are complicit in the ugliest side of America.You said early in this post that the Dem’s failings “isn’t to excuse Trump or the GOP.” Well, it shouldn’t be to excuse your neighbours so easily either.

  67. Kevin :”What I would love to see is a candidate who makes it a priority to heal some of the divisions in this country.”

    Except this invariably turns into (1) republicans demand some insane thing (2) democrats, in the name of compromise, “split the difference” and agree to meet the republicans half way. (3) this new position becomes the new “left”. (4) relublicans move further right and demand some insane thing (5) democrats, in the name of compromise, agree to “split the difference” and meet republicans halfway.

    How does one “heal the division” when the other party’s main platform is xenophobia, sexism, racism, islamophobia, and other forms of bigotry?

    Is the problem the *division*? Or is the problem the *bigotry*?

  68. Around here there are still more Romney and Obama stickers on cars than there are trump or Hillary. But the giant trucks with trump stickers tend to drive dangerously and cut into traffic and drive on the shoulder to merge late. (Hillary stickers tend to be on small non fancy cars that don’t behave badly or take dangerous driving risks.)

  69. I lived in south Germany for a few years, and every now and again would learn that somebody was former SS. Waffen SS, not concentration camp SS, but still. There was nothing about them that was notably different from their neighbors. They were all cheerful, energetic, and helpful people.

    I agree that it’s vital to remember that people can, all together, do monstrous things even though they’re not at all monsters. Which has equally important corollaries. Everybody who’s not a monster, you and me, could under the right (i.e. wrong) circumstances take part in monstrosities. They’re done by regular folks, like us. It does take constant care to guard against piling on. It starts small.

    And the other implication is that everyone has the capacity to be a mensch, too. We get to choose.

  70. QUOTE: “Do I live among idiots? No. I live among wonderful people who will clear your driveway when it snows and watch your pets when you go away, who love and care for their friends and families, who are decent people in their day-to-day lives and are folks I am proud to call neighbors.”

    That was one of the driving factors in my moving from very red, conservative & religious Louisiana to very blue, liberal & somewhat atheistic Western Washington. It was this terrible cognitive dissonance: that I had been raised among wonderful people who were intelligent & capable of great kindness & full of deep conviction, and they also knew me for the same. Yet they would still vote for people like Gov. Bobby Jindal or US Senator David Vitter who blamed queer people like me for hurricanes, the “destruction of the American family,” and every other ill in society. Even now they repost thoughtless memes mocking transpeople (a very vulnerable group).

    I think it would be easier if they’d been ignorant, selfish, and cruel all along. Then I would have expected it, and wouldn’t be surprised when I was unable to reason with them. I try to think of the bigger picture and understand why some are supporting Trump — the sense of betrayal, Citizens United and the role of big money in politics, how “free market” trading has hurt certain groups disproportionately, the dumbing down of the media (even History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, etc.), and slashing of public funds for education, the rise of police brutality… but my understanding doesn’t ameliorate the very real harm inflicted:

    As a woman, my life span could be shortened simply by living in certain states like Texas with extremely high maternal mortality rates driven by politics. As a woman, I’m targeted by hundreds of bills in GOP-held state legislatures every *year.* As a queer person, there’s never a day some politician or influential religious leader isn’t targeting me with violent words (I can take it; but I resent the targets drawn on queer children and visibly “gay” presenting people). I can never move back to my home state unless I want to put myself at risk for being fired for being lesbian (sorry, Mom, I know you wanted me to be a teacher there — I don’t think they like queers teaching in private *or* public school.) I’m also an atheist. In religious areas, they consider that a fireable offense (see the blog “Godless in Dixie” for details.)

    I wish there were some way for progressives like me to reach out to people in Darke County; I had hoped Bernie might be something of a bridge between conservative and progressive elements. But first they have to be willing to acknowledge me as human instead of the Evil Queer Feminist Atheist and they have to stop voting for politicians like Mike Pence who publicly promise to hurt me.

  71. Well, heck. Hillary HAS said she will try to be the best leader she can be for ALL Americans (Trump has said the same, to be fair).

    Her comments about coal miners losing jobs was taken SO out of context–in the original speech where she brought it up, she said those jobs weren’t coming back, and she vowed to get retraining and financial aid to miners to prepare them for BETTER jobs.

    Maybe the Democratic party is finally ready to take folks living in agricultural and former manufacturing areas seriously. Why not? Why not try to help them–with real solutions? It feels like such a huge oversight. The Democratic Party is supposed to be the champion of the common man, the underdog. I guess we have let this group down. I hope we can reverse the trend.

    John, I’ve asked you on your blog how you deal with arguments with pro-Trumpers when they start spouting the conspiranoia nonsense. I asked because I assume you are MUCH BETTER arguing rational truth than I am. My whole (suburban) family is pro-Trump. I’m so tired of being singled out and attacked at dinners and family events. And I’m positive you make much more eloquent, cohesive arguments than I do, even though I really do follow the candidates and their “policies” closely. That Breitbart crap with the insinuations and lies? Even though they are BS, I find them hard to argue against when surrounded by a bunch of people spouting the nonsense. Of course, I’m talking about my family–so it gets perhaps more personal, and they take more “liberties” with me than they would with non-family.

    You gave an answer to this question awhile back that made it sound like you don’t engage with people like that. If true, I am surprised, because I imagine you run into them everywhere–your grocery store, gas station, all the normal places you’d bump into your neighbors. But maybe you all are too polite to talk politics in casual company?

    Here in the DC suburbs, everybody discusses it everywhere. We are all on 24/7 overload.

    Had another big family dinner last Wednesday. I asked early for a moratorium on the politics talk. They threw a few comments around, but it was light, and died down fairly quickly. I think his “grabbing” comments finally quenched their ardor. And there were children at the table.

    I also work with some Trumpsters. I’m an ICU nurse, and CNN tends to be on 24/7 in rooms where the patients are unconscious (I know–that IS terrible, they should have peace and quiet or light music). And CNN tends to be on in a majority of the rooms of conscious patients–just ‘cuz everyone in DC is obsessed, including our patients.

    So I know these Pro-Trump nurses. They are all “Christian”. The final sticking point for them all appears to be abortion. Plain and simple. I never realized before how that one issue was truly such a make or break for many people. They want Roe v. Wade overturned. They think Trump will do it. Trump really could shoot someone on 5th Ave. He could grab their mothers by their whatevers. They are voting Trump no matter what–because of abortion issues.

  72. For years, conservatives have been the biggest, smuggest, most Christian moral scolds of liberals like me, and now they plan to vote for someone whom they should see as anathema, but they don’t. This whole “liberals look down on us common folk” rubs me the wrong way, when I’ve been hearing all my life about how I’m going to hell, I support baby killing, I’m not a real American and should leave the country, etc.

    A couple of people I’ve known since high school are planning to vote for Trump. I can’t help but wonder: if they saw me and mine getting loaded onto a cattle car and were told we were going to be shipped to a new area for “resettlement,” would they do something or would they turn away? I’m afraid I know the answer now.

  73. I’m sorry, I can’t be as forgiving as John or some of the other on this thread. The Rude Pundit probably writes closest to my point of view on Trump supporters (and the GOP).

    Yeah, Sorry, But Fuck Donald Trump’s Supporters (and the GOP)

    One of the biggest goddamn insults in this entire campaign has actually been propagated by some on the left: that we should reach out to the supporters of Donald Trump – a racially homogeneous group who are fairly diverse economically – and try to either convince them to vote Democratic or, at the very least, understand the forces that have made them so resentful. And while this bleeding heart liberal wants to make sure that the poor Trump supporters get all the welfare, job training, housing support, education, health care, and more that we can provide, I’m sure as shit not gonna worry about hurting the feelings of dumb, racist motherfuckers for one big-ass reason.

    Go ahead read the whole thing. He pretty much nails it. The Rude Pundit

  74. “Those good, kind, decent people would never cheat on their spouse, tell lies, not pay their bills, or sexually assault someone, but they’re okay with someone who does representing them on the world stage. The cognitive dissonance must be agonizing.”

    I don’t know. I mean, Bill Clinton blah blah blah. I’m really not looking to derail the conversation in that direction, but I’m just saying that conservatives aren’t the only people willing to accept repulsive behavior from their champions.

    To be honest, I don’t have all that much patience for rabid anti-Trumpers who reflexively condemn all of his voters to hell. I don’t really think it’s that hard to put yourselves in – let us say – a rural Trump supporter’s shoes. If you really can’t see yourself to doing it, maybe you should consider working on your empathy. I mean, seriously: get a grip. Almost half of the voting public will be pulling the lever for Trump. You have to live with these people, and fear-mongering hysteria is not a good look on liberals either.

    And, you know. Trump might still win, and if he does, you’ll have to live with that, too. President Trump. Remember, that nasty taste in your mouth is how a lot of his supporters react to the phrase President Obama.

  75. As I’ve said earlier here, I’m voting for Gary Johnson. The only I’d even consider voting for Trump is because NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN/NPR (yes – depressingly enough, NPR) have decided that electing Hillary is more important than having an informed citizenry.

    The Project Veritas bombshells started dropping 48 hours ago, and I’ve been periodically looking through the above five sites repeatedly looking for any mention of O’Keefe in them. Dead silence. It’s the most important video on Youtube right now (check the trending tab), but every media outlet except CNN completely buried the story. And all CNN did was to release a hit piece on “discredited convict O’Keefe who is known for editing videos. Appallingly, they dismissed the video evidence as “bar talk” – admissions that Hillary’s campaign was colluding with her SuperPAC (which is illegal) and that they were hiring operatives to pick fights at Trump rallies to make Trump supporters look like Nazis. These aren’t unsubstantiated rumours like CNN says they are either – campaign finance disclosures has found the campaign making payments to these people on the dates in question that they said they did their activities.

    There is no defense that can be given for this utter failure of responsibility from the American press.

    Since I’m sure some will doubt me, I just ran a search for “O’Keefe” (looking only for hits regarding James O’Keefe) from the web sites of the above 5 media sites, and looked for the last mention of him:
    ABC News: “James O’Keefe ensnares liberal groups” (March 2011 – yes, 5.5 years ago.)
    NBC News: “ACORN Video ‘pimp’: Activist or Agitator?” (September 2009 – way to keep up with current events, NBC)
    CNN: The aforementioned story (determine for yourself if it is biased):
    NPR: “In New Political Warfare, ‘Armies of Video Trackers’ Swarm Candidates” (May 2016 – nothing more recent than that)
    CBS: Nothing since 2012.

    Why does it matter? Because I (as an independent who has voted Libertarian for a number of cycles now) try to research both sides of an issue before making a decision about important political matters. And the fact that these media outlets are all burying a headline story is absolutely appalling. An informed citizenry is the foundation for democracy working, and that principle is being sacrificed to put Hillary in office.

  76. As a furriner may I make a couple of comments? Thank you, I will.

    I’m currently reading Alan Taylor’s “American Revolutions”. Oh my, how times don’t change. Patriots were crying “Liberty or death” when opposing taxes, but when some of their slaves started making the same noises it was “Call out the Militia”. The slave owners knew the hypocrisy of their attitude but carried on regardless because there was money/power involved. No change today; just the subjects have changed.

    One thing I can’t get my head around is the contradiction in “policies” (its alright, its a world-wide thing – you’re not exceptional). As an example take the unspoken, but evident, Republican dislike for African Americans (and immigrants), and their opposition to abortion. Wouldn’t it make sense to allow abortions to slow the growth of these demographics. Shouldn’t their attitude be one of “More Democrats than Republicans will have abortions so let them kill off their future”.

    A couple of work-mates here have said they’d vote for Trump if they could. How much that is just an outsiders chance to stir the pot and how much is genuine I didn’t delve into. But it does show up a world-wide problem in democracies that a growing proportion of the voters are developing an eff you attitude. Syriza in Greece, Brexit in Britain, right-wing parties in Europe, and so on. More and more people are voting against rather than voting for: – voting against the establishment rather than for Donald; voting against Donald rather than for Hillary.

    And don’t think of fleeing to New Zealand if Donald wins. We’ve just reduced (ever so slightly) our immigration numbers. We are still letting in around 2% of the population. And Britain voted Brexit on 1%! It’s a crazy world we all live in – doesn’t matter what tribe you belong to.

  77. the biannual Democratic candidate for OH-8 (when there is one; there hasn’t always been) gets little if any support from the national or state parties as far as I can see.

    This always seems odd from a UK perspective – that there are districts in the US, lots of districts, where one of the two parties simply doesn’t bother running a candidate, because they don’t think they’d win. That would _never_ happen in the UK. The three main national parties contest every seat. Even if it’s the safest Conservative seat in the country, and Labour’s never been less than 40% behind, they’ll still find some kid to send out door to door with a red rosette. Now maybe they won’t devote quite the same attention to it – though spending limits are very strict here, TV advertising is illegal – but they’ll still make a token effort. Because you never know. And also it’s good practice for the kid, and if he does well, next time around maybe he’ll be picked to stand for the seat next door, which he might win…

  78. There is nothing unique about Darke county in their decency. I am happy that they are decent people most of the time, like most people everywhere. To vote for Trump, is deplorable and should be held as such. Both sides are true, to try and reduce to one or the other is poor logic.

    “Because I had saved his garrison, he had me knighted. And then, because I was a smuggler, he ordered that the ends of my fingers should be cut off. A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

  79. ajay, the U.S. parties can’t quite do that because people have to live in the area they represent. So in a politically homogenous area, they have to find someone who disagrees with the norm (like our host) and is willing to run for the office and serve if elected (unlike our host). I agree that the parties should be contesting every seat, but takes more than money to do so.

  80. ” I wish my neighbors had both a better presidential candidate to support and a better party to field that candidate” is pretty much how I feel about both major parties. Hell, Johnson isn’t even the best third party candidate that we’ve had in recent history.

  81. Everyone seems to think if Trump gets elected either a) the world ends, or b) he will enact crazy legislation that will cause immense harm to whatever political or social issue that person happens to support.

    Neither of these is necessarily true. Remember, if Trump happens to win (which appears unlikely, so Do Not Panic) he’d probably drag in a bunch of Republicans in both the House and the Senate. This means the first time he steps out of line, he’d be impeached and Pence would take over.

    The same is not true of Hillary Clinton. She has stated outright that she intends to destroy certain Constitutional rights that a huge swathe of the nation believes are key to individual freedom and liberty. Heck, it’s right there on her website for anyone who wants to look. If she is elected, she will drag in Democrat Senators and Representatives, and she will proceed with her agenda which is what a lot of the nation (aside from short-sighted Progressives) does not want.

    Anyone who doesn’t think socialized medicine, more bureaucratic regulations and oversight, higher taxes, and the other Democrat platform positions are feasible or consistent with their core values will hold their noses, vote for Trump, and rely on the Constitution and Congress to either keep Trump on track or give him the boot in short order.

  82. @ShakaUVM

    It took me literally the seconds I spent typing “O’Keefe” into my web browser to find the following news story….at the very tippy top of the long list of “results”:

    How awful that (a) you have not hit “refresh” on your browser in the last two years and (b) are relying on a “news expose” from a gentleman that news agencies are rightfully skeptical of precisely because he is a known political hack who has been caught misleadingly editing his “gotcha” videos — and apparently DID SO AGAIN.

    Quote: Vargas, as of now the only target of these videos who has not lost a job, claims that PVAction left out exculpatory video of the interview. “They have a transcript of our conversation to confirm I told them that voting twice was illegal,” Vargas wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “I will not respond to Fox News or the trolls but let them have their field day of conspiracies.”

    But yes, I’m sure you’re an open-minded person (and not at all a hard-core Trump Supporter disguising yourself in pseudo-anonymity on the Interwebs) who even-handedly examines all the information and is so, so very disappointed that the media is Transparently Rigging the Election for Crooked Hillary.

  83. Cadeyrn

    Ok, I’m on the other side of the pond where we have our own Constitutional challenges, but I can’t see how Hillary Clinton’s website shows she is going to “destroy certain Consitutional rights”. Can you please explain what those rights are?

  84. ShakaUVM –

    Perhaps the Project Veritas videos have been ignored because most of O’Keefe’s work seems to consist of throwing a couple of smoke-bombs and then screaming “fire, fire”. Googling this morning led me straight to, which opined as follows:

    Time also had a write-up:,

    which it pointed out that many of the featured ‘villains’ had overstated their connections with the Clinton campaign.

    At least one of the people featured in one of the videos has been fired or has resigned.

    All of this is probably off-topic (sorry, John), but i wanted to set the record straight.

  85. I have a fun story about the sort of thing our lovely host has done in this post:

    I live in a rural Missouri town that plays host to a State University. The town and the county it is the seat of are pretty hard-core rural Missouri with a strong conservative bent and far too many Trump/Pence signs for comfort.

    The Uni kids are mostly urban, split 60-30 between Liberalish and Conservativish. To back up the urban/rural divide mentioned up thread, they talk trash about the “townies” (not that the “townies don’t have their own splits between regular folks and “crickers”(the local version of hillbillies), and the locals talk trash about them. I know a girl who moved here from California. She is a local as far as the divide goes. Works in a popular bar. And is bisexual. We talked once about the town and plans for the future. She says she loves it here, and wouldn’t mind living here her whole life. The people are so nice. But, she’s bi, but only dates boys. Being a local at a popular local bar, white, Christian-ish in background if not in practice, she gets along quite well with the other locals. The moment she started openly dating a girl, she’d find things a little different around here.

    I’ve seen it. When I was less of a gender-role-conforming male(I’m cis-het, but my presentation varies from the norm now and again), the things that came out of people’s mouths towards me were pretty disgusting(From the Uni kids, too, in fairness). This girl can’t walk outside alone at night because of the creepiness of the guys around. Gets cat-called whenever she’s walking around in public without a guy around. And that’s when they think she’s straight.

    She has a friend and co-worker that she’s only ever said positive things to me about. He’s so chivalrous and nice to her. She has no idea he dragged a girl into a bathroom and assaulted her. Because she’s in his peer group. I’m sure everyone at their work thinks he’s a wonderful fellow. Every cis-het white dude in Darke County probably treats each other quite nicely from a bigot or not perspective. And that (hypothetical)nice employee at the bar raped a girl. I’m sure he’s quite (hypothetically) polite to John. But politeness is immaterial to character.

    A friend of mine got sexually harassed and assaulted into quitting her job. The guy was quite polite. Offered to get his aunt who worked at Walmart to give her a job. Everyone thought he was a stand-up guy, because they didn’t know why she needed a new job.

    You can’t separate a person and their politics. Maybe it’s a facet of white or class or hetero privilege that people think you can. But politics is life and death for many marginalized groups. My bi friend has passing privilege because she only dates guys and her gender/sexuality presentation is no different than any of the straight girls around. But she can’t come out to her grandparents. Can’t post feminist or QUILTBAG stuff on her Facebook(and has to have a tumblr for expressing that part of herself), because she isn’t comfortable with certain people knowing. I have friends who’ve been beaten for being non-standard. Disowned by family. Sexually harassed, assaulted and raped.

    “They’re nice folks” is entirely dependent on which circles of their community you move in. The privilege of considering their politics as separate from their person works the same.

    Did they create these rifts between the various groups in our society? Probably not. But they unabashedly uphold them. You can’t call someone a “nice person” without establishing a context for that judgement.

    Have the Democrats made no moves to include these people? That’s disappointing. But it’s no the Democrat’s job to do that. Individuals (to certain degrees) are responsible for their own actions, should strive to improve their own character. Not being spoon-fed such changes is not an excuse.

    On the other hand, being raised already as part of certain philosophies and viewpoints is its own kind of privilege. I was born in the most capital-D Democratic municipality in all of my county and most of the state. My high school was 85% African American.

    We had a lesbian principal (she was fired for staff conflicts and for:) who let us elect a boy as Homecoming Queen. The King laughed and danced the opening dance with him. Sounds great? He was straight. He had a girlfriend. Her name was dragged through the mud, he turned down and appearance on Jay Leno because already the media attention was ruining his life. Our friend called from Michigan to say the story had been on the local news there, where this boy was portrayed as gay, and his election a moral downfall. People called his girl-friend a “fag-hag”. Parents in the district complained. The election rules were re-written to allow only girls to be elected to traditionally female positions on the Homecoming and Prom Courts.

    My parents were both very privileged by the identities and their politics. So it’s easier for me to say and practice these ideals than it is for someone raised in the town where I live now, or in Darke County. We should never lose sight of our privileges.

    Someone upthread said Trump’s policies will not affect anyone who lives in John’s county. That is false. His proposed policies and his rhetoric are already affecting countless Americans. We may not see it if we are part of the privileged class, some of these people are effectively invisible to us, like the many QUILTBAG folk who live in these rural counties. We don’t see their struggle. But it is there. I was unfriended recently on a social media site for saying anyone who votes for Trump should be ashamed of trying to put a rapist in the White House. I stand by that claim. But even so, we should try to understand why people supporting him are doing so. It’s not all because of conscious bigotry. We have individual responsibility, but there are greater factors at work, too–wide-spread, ubiquitous even. And it is incumbent upon us to take these into account before we judge other people for sins we have no doubt had our own brushes with in the past, and may in the future. In that sense, I support what I think John is trying to do with this post.

    The residents of Darke County should be held responsible for their own politics and behavior. But if we want to write here in judgement of them, we should also ask ourselves what we are doing to help bring them around to what we are saying is the right side of history. Are we just laughing at the ignorant yokels? Or are we going out and educating people about the diversity of our country and the reasons for celebrating it?

  86. MRAL: “I don’t really think it’s that hard to put yourselves in – let us say – a rural Trump supporter’s shoes. If you really can’t see yourself to doing it, maybe you should consider working on your empathy.”

    Oh, boo hoo. I grew up in what is now Trump land. Everyone I know back there is voting Trump. And over the years, they’ve invariably let slip something racist, sexist, islamophobic, or homophobic. I don’t have to empathize when I talk with them on a regular basis.

    “I mean, seriously: get a grip.”

    Yes, you should.

    “Almost half of the voting public will be pulling the lever for Trump. You have to live with these people,”

    I ALREADY DO. HELL,I GREW UP WITH THEM. Stop with this bullshit that we hate them because we dont understand them. I understand them ALL TOO WELL.

    “and fear-mongering hysteria is not a good look on liberals either.”

    Its funny you warmed up your comment with “To be honest” and end with outrageous pearl clutching. It is not fear mongering hysteria to call a bigot a bigot. It is not being unfair to Trump to quote his sexist words back to him. It’s not a lack of empathy to point out that David Duke heartily endorses Trump.

    “Remember, that nasty taste in your mouth is how a lot of his supporters react to the phrase President Obama.”

    Obama haters get that visceral ugly taste in their mouth about Obama because he’s black, a secret Muslim, and really from Kenya.

    I get a nasty taste in my mouth about Trump because I imagine what it would be like to have Biff Tannen as president, and I throw up a little bit.

    Cadeyrn: “The same is not true of Hillary Clinton. She has stated outright that she intends to destroy certain Constitutional rights”

    a background check to buy a guy is not (clutches pearls) destroying any rights.

    Second Ammendmenters need to grow the hell up. America has more guns per capita than anywhere else in the world. The next two runners up are Serbia and Yemen, countries that are either in the middle of a war or very recently had a war. Meanwhile, the firearm homicide rate in the US is the highest of any developed country. The only countries that outnumber us in that regard is pretty much every banana republic in Central and South America.

    This is where I’m a bit confused by Scalzi’s admonishment to understand Trump voters. I “understand” them, its just that the positions they hold are based on propaganda and fear and stands in complete opposition to the facts.

  87. It’s almost as if people are offended that an author would see “villains” as complicated and nuanced instead of mustache-twirling puppy kickers.

    And of COURSE Trump is a blight on our country and dangerous to so many. I think understanding his popularity is key to preventing him from happening again.

  88. NPR this morning interviewed (yet ANOTHER) Trump supporter, this time in Miami. She basically said the same (incorrect lying propaganda) thing as Cadeyrn above (seriously, check Snopes if you don’t believe any of the other fact checking websites). It was really creepy– NPR also is trying to humanize Trump supporters, but their segments end up being like some kind of sick horror movie where everything seems normal at first.

    So… is it that they’re bigoted or that they are stupidly misinformed? In Ohio, I can believe there’s no radio except Rush Limbaugh and the like, but in Miami that cannot be the excuse. I can also believe that in Ohio and in Miami that people are using this propaganda as an excuse for their bigotry. And as with others, I doubt Scalzi would be getting the same neighborly reception if his family were say, black or gay. Sure, some people’s views would be broadened and it would be like an after-school special, but it is unlikely he would be made to feel quite so welcome by all.

  89. Here in Central NY I see a lot of the Trump placards in people’s yards. Bile rises in my throat each time I pass one. I question the sanity of people that see anything good for the country in this man. Even I would make a better candidate for president than this guy. You have stated the reasons much more eloquently than I ever could.Having said that I have members of my family that see this guy as the answer. I must say that I would expect it from some (clueless) but not from others. It might seem that when presented with the sordid evidence or upon listing to his incoherent rants, they would see reason but that does not seem to be the case. This is certainly a phenomenon.

  90. KL

    Here in the DC suburbs, everybody discusses it everywhere. We are all on 24/7 overload.

    I live in Reston, grew up in McLean (Langley High School, Class of 83. Senator Lugar’s son was our class President.) Politics is our industry. Of course we obsess about it! Absent politics, Georgetown and Alexandria would be two fading industrial era towns hoping to cash in on some tourism.

    It’s different when I go visit Dad, who retired to a small town in southern Utah, where he is a lonely Democrat. When I lived there in the 90’s it was reliably right wing. Remember the joke in Dr. Strangelove about fluoride being a Commie Plot to Poison Our Manly Essences? A significant minority in Utah didn’t think that was a joke. It was the Truth. To them. There was a story in a local newspaper in 91 or so about a Local Woman who called the police because she saw a black man. (Think about it…) They’re great neighbors, especially since Dad is 88. But they are still (quietly, in private) racist, homophobic, male and white supremacist. Most of them have some exposure to other cultures through Missions for the Church, but they are still strong America-Firsters.

    Thanks to Trump, Utah is actually in play this year.

    Oh, and I went for a drive out towards Winchester on Sunday. Saw fewer Trump signs than I expected, and more Clinton ones.

  91. Nicoleandmaggie, et al:

    You know, for the first few years I lived here, one of my next door neighbor was Nancy, who was black and was also very well-liked in the community. Likewise, I can speak from experience that a number of my neighbors have gay family and friends, who they treat like they would treat anyone else. So my actual experience of how people in this community treat people who are not just like them, on a personal level, rather directly contradicts the various suppositions some here have.

    That there is this disconnect between the private sphere and the public sphere, at least as it relates to whom many of my neighbors will vote for and the policies those people will pursue, is a thing I find interesting, and is, I think, is probably a major division point generally between people who consider themselves conservative and those who consider themselves liberal — making allowances and exceptions for “family,” but not for others who are not otherwise like one’s self.

    Again: I’m not interested in defending the very likely presidential choice of many of my neighbors. They’re going to vote for an awful person who has no interest in them, in no small part because they’ve been conditioned by the GOP for years to hate government and distrust people not like them. While they’re still responsible for their own vote, the prevalence of that messaging here and in places like here is a simple fact. They’re about to make a bad choice, and if they got their way lots of people would suffer for it, including (in less ovious and immediate ways) them.

    That fact doesn’t change the fact that my neighbors are great neighbors and good people in their day-to-day lives. The complexity there is a thing, and it interests me, and I have to live with it. Understanding these things about my neighbors rather obviously has not meant that I’ve become any less opposed to Trump, or the current iteration of the GOP — I mean, hello, read the posts here. It does mean that after November 9, I still live among my neighbors and they have to live with me, and I prefer to consider them as fully as possible.

  92. @scalzi–

    I’m going to argue availability heuristic here. Sure, some of the experiences you viewed were after-school special, but you have no way of knowing how Nancy was treated by everybody compared to how you were treated by everybody. You have not seen every interaction that a gay family has had to face. Chances are you are completely unaware of any micro-aggressions even as you witness them. You don’t see what goes on behind the scenes either.

    It could be that some people have a separation between personal and public, but research is generally against that– either personal becomes public (see: research on the effect of having daughters on politician voting by Ebonya Washington or AJ Oswald, or as an example, Mary Cheney’s effect on Dick Cheney or Palin’s beliefs about special education etc.), or personal gets shunned (or, since I live in the South, super polite to their faces, but politely back-stabby after).

    Imagining people complexly (to quote John Green) doesn’t mean putting them into a personal vs. political stereotype either. I think atsiko, above, has the best comment on this topic, though many other folks are also trying to push you to peel that onion a little bit more.

  93. Also– it should be argued (and should be obvious) that even in one Ohio neighborhood, people are not a monolith. They will have different motivations, different actions etc. But that’s getting into sociology which is not my area.

  94. Leaving aside the dismissiveness of your “after-school special” crack, nicoleandmaggie, it’s certainly true that I live my own life and no one else’s, and don’t know everything about other people’s lives, which is true of anyone. It’s also true that I’ve lived in a small town of 1,800 people for sixteen years, where I know everyone and everyone knows me, and in a county of only 50k people total for the same amount of time. I’m not unobservant, either in terms of the public, or (to the extent it comes back to me) the private, lives of others. It’s possible that after all this time, I have a reasonably good bead regarding the general social dynamics of my town and county. I don’t know everything, and my experience is by definition anecdotal, but I know a lot.

    Also, as a point of disagreement, one way I could know how Nancy (or anyone else) was treated by others in my town was by asking her, which you might entertain is a thing I might have done at some point, in no small part because I might be curious to how she was treated as one of the few black people in town. You might also entertain the idea that when I asked, she answered, largely truthfully. Turns out when you ask people things, they often tell you, to the extent they are comfortable doing so.

    To a certain extent I think folks telling me here how my neighbors really are is like someone who is trying to diagnose someone online for a complex medical issue, which is to say, thanks, but I’m more likely to trust the thoughts of a doctor who is in the room with the patient. I have great neighbors, who are also human beings with all the complexity that entails, including the ability to make (in my opinion) shitty, damaging political decisions that put them in a less than great light. Wrapping my head around these facts is a process.

    I do think there continues to be some confusion along the line of, inasmuch as I describe my neighbors as “wonderful,” I must be trying to sell the idea of Darke county (and Bradford specifically) as some sort of delightful Lake Woebegon experience, in which everyone gets along all the time and all the children are above average. To which my response is: oh, my, no. It has its own set of problems and issues, some of which you will see anywhere that is like Darke county (or Bradford), and some that are specific to the area. It’s no paradise, although I think we have better than average sunsets. On the same token, it’s not a blighted hellscape either. It’s rural America, with its advantages and disadvantages.

  95. @nicoleandmaggie:

    My post was more of a thought proposition, and not directed dead-center at our host’s home or his personal understanding of the folks in and around it. Although statistically as regards the general world of rural America I think it is accurate, I make no specific claims about Darke County and its environs. Although I don’t think John can know for sure whether the limited conception of it he illuminates for us here is entirely accurate, I doubt there is anyone in this thread who can make a greater claim to understanding this specific town and county than our gracious host.

    As John says, we can take educated guesses about the reality of things in Darke County or in someone’s head, but certainly a trained doctor intimately familiar with the case is more likely to come to the right diagnosis.

    I do stand my my point about providing context for “nice”/”wonderful” people in general, though.

  96. I think this thread provides ample evidence for the idea that there are people in all areas of the political thoughtspace who are deficient in basic empathy. Imagining how a person could believe something different from yourself, and what conclusions they might come to about the world as a result, is a vital skill if you want to start changing their minds.

    Yes, this is an important election, and yes, it is absolutely critical that Trump go down to a crushing defeat. But, in the end, it’s ONE election. We need to start working on the factors that led to Trump becoming the GOP nominee, or we’ll fight exactly the same fight in four years, and eight, and twelve . . . and eventually we’ll lose. Don’t spend so much time trying to tend a single dying tree that you overlook a forest badly in need of our help.

  97. I live in a province of Canada which has been run for almost a decade by a rightist, neoliberal party which revels in cutting taxes and shoving public services into private hands. Coincident to their first election, oil prices went nuts– we’ve got some of that, and several other extractive industries that were doing pretty well too– so they could pursue that policy while saying with a straight face we’re all getting rich so why worry (we were not, of course, but most had a small taste of comfort). Then all the prices for all that stuff went to hell, the provincial economy got very wobbly, and pointed questions were asked about why the province had no financial reserves after years of a booming economy wherein it should have been raking in royalties like the house in Vegas. The answer seemed to be, because we did everything to favour big corporations over local enterprises, and happily waved as much money out of the province as possible.

    And shortly thereafter, we had a provincial election, and the same lot were elected in vast heaps, on a platform of “The economy is wobbly! THOSE GUYS want taxes we just can’t afford!” and “The federal government is the cause of all farmers’ woes! Heck, it’s their fault oil collapsed, so everyone out of a job should blame them too!” Now, post election, there are a lot of the electorate bugging their eyes out at school closures and hospital de-funding, very angry at the government they cast their vote for, despite it doing just as it had previously but with less cover. I’m less charitable than Mr. Scalzi. I WILL call my fellow inmates stupid, because they voted for what they got and then were surprised by it. I have to imagine it is the same in other places, perhaps even in Darke county.

    I have also read that Cracked article, and it seems to me that there’s an analogy to be drawn– the disenfranchised and spurned people of the rural US are not much different from the disenfranchised, spurned people of inner cities, but they lack the population density to have a riot, and like rioters, they resort to destruction to get attention they cannot draw otherwise, even when that destruction is apt to afflict themselves primarily. Trump for them is a handy pre-filled and self-lighting Molotov cocktail to throw through the plate glass of the nation.

  98. In trying to get a handle on Trump voters, two of the books I’ve read recently were helpful: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, and American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. Both gave insight on how areas of the country (like southwestern Ohio) came to have a great distrust of government. And also how I, who grew up in an area that was settled by New Englanders, have a hard time getting that.

  99. @ajay: Re. the UK practice of sending young guys to compete in hopeless elections.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg is an ultraconservative and frightfully upper-class Conservative MP, representing a seat somewhere in the south of England. About 20 years ago, as part of his political apprenticeship, he was sent to fight a very working-class seat in Scotland. I lived nearby at the time, and it was highly amusing. Rees-Mogg turned up in a Bentley accompanied by a couple of family servants. The locals were not so much hostile as bemused by this alien personage campaigning among them.

    To put the cultural divide in American terms, it would be like sending a Manhattan socialite to campaign in rural West Virginia.

  100. “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” — Matthew 5:43-48

    When JC pwned you 2000 years ago you have a problem.

    These are the wonderful people who, every election, get out the pitchforks and torches. Hmmm, maybe they are not so wonderful after all. This disconnect between public and private: that is what is commonly called a lack of integrity.

    As to the third party voters: there is no-one to receive your message. This is childish behavior. Mommy will not make it all better if you yowl and stamp your feet.

  101. Reminds me of something a politician said in a recent campaign about us swabians:
    “When we do something wrong, we do it for a long time.”

    Probaly no need to mention that he wasn’t part of the party the collective “we” use to vote for ’round here. :D)

  102. Actually, I don’t have a problem with a third party in American politics.

    I DO have a problem with trying to start one from the top down. It’s basically a vanity campaign writ large (“It’s all about ME”).

    I take someone seriously when they have a core group of Congresscritters and local politicians they can bank on.

  103. I spent three of my formative years in a rural Ohio town. Let’s just say, the social niceties adults might have used with each other to mask their true feelings, their children didn’t see the need to use with the odd stranger in their midst.

  104. I grew up in a town with similar demographics and live in a different one like that now. What some of you don’t get about the racism here is that most folks don’t think of themselves that way. If you are nonwhite, they are (most of them) likely to treat you just fine. Their racism is tied up with some class resentment and top-down propaganda. So ( and I’m not trying to justify, just explain) they see real problems with declining working/middle class and then they see people who live in violent neighborhoods, do not work and receive welfare, then they hear the decades worth of propaganda telling them the two are linked – that the one has caused the other. They are hardworking decent folk who harbor no resentment to the Nancy’s of their communities, but who feel ripped off by an other elsewhere. While this is still racism, it’s not really their fault entirely since the right’s propaganda machine has normalized this view, and since the left has really done nothing to address the real class tension here. The liberal denial that some people DO in fact game the system or that generational poverty and illegal immigration DOES in fact cause a drain on health care and education, shuts down any discussion that could follow thereafter to put these issues into a broader context. This causes resentment and plays straight into the hands of the right, who are masters at scapegoating and manipulation of deeper feelings of racism and privilege. Then when you add to this the liberal tendency to sneer at certain things that are important to rural people, they become even more defensive. I agree with everything here about the larger moral responsibility to vote against Trump, as well that tribalism should not be equated with moralism, but it’s worth trying to understand what is happening and what responsibility your side has in it. That sort of reflection is really the only thing that can keep you from fundamentalism, and it’s also the first step towards coming to mutual understandings.

    Moreover, turn some of those questions in on yourselves. While you ask how any moral person could vote for someone who is willing to attack people unlike themselves, I’d like to point out that millions of people around the world can say the same thing about American Democrats who continue to support Obama and Clinton despite the coups in Central America, the massive deportations of immigrants and the escalation of arm sales to the Saudis and support of Pakistan, drone strikes, etc. If you don’t understand how indoctrination can lead decent people to support politicians who harm people unlike yourself, one place to start would be the general liberal support of Obama/Clinton/Kerry’s foreign policy. Half my family is in Asia, and I can tell you that America looks as different there from here as Darke county looks to you from your cities.

  105. John,

    I think some of you might be under the impression I’m trying to excuse a Trump vote by my neighbors noting that they are wonderful people.

    That’s not in the least what I was getting at. I was trying to say that considering them wonderful people is easier for you as a het cis white non-muslim dude, and that the consequences for their actions locally and federally having no real impact on you is probably a big part of that.

    I can’t really tell if you were replying to me, though. You do seem to be getting upset at people and vice-versa, so this is all I think I’ll say on this unless you ask me to clarify or want to talk more.

  106. Josh Jasper:

    Not upset, honest! The conversation here has been a really good one. And no, not replying to you specifically, although I’m reading everything.

    Also, as a general note, I have no doubt my usual set of advantages come into play here as well. I also, based on personal observation, think people here are (generally) pretty decent with people they know, regardless of race/sexuality, etc — and again that disconnect of “this person is known to me, therefore I’m fine with them” and voting for a candidate/patry who would be otherwise punitive toward people like that other person is one worth delving into.

  107. I feel like this post is a better-articulated version of Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment, which was widely misunderstood in its coverage. It’s true that a very sizeable chunk of Trump supporters are racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, etc. who were just waiting for someone to come along and normalize their beliefs. But the rest are like the neighbors being described here – people who want to live decently and treat others with respect, who are willing to support someone horrible for reasons that don’t have much to do with his horribleness. They don’t get a free pass for their choice, but like Clinton said, they also shouldn’t be written off as a cancer on the electorate.

  108. People all over the country are deciding not to let their children stay up late to watch the debates. And it’s NOT because we are worried about what might come out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth.

    My parents encouraged us to watch the debates as soon as we showed a glimmer of interest. Dad was more conservative, Mom more liberal, but it never seemed to get ugly or contentious within the house. We discussed, as a family, civics lessons I’d learned in school, government, how policy proposals would affect us and other Americans.

    I always imagined it was similar in other households.

    It is truly bizarre that this time around, parents have to “shield” their younger children from one of the candidates.

    I imagine parents in conservative, heavily “Christian” areas like Darke County might even feel that
    urge to protect their offspring from the nasty negativity even more. Maybe I’m wrong.

    But voting for someone you don’t want your kids influenced by? Now THAT’S a disconnect.

  109. cnoosy, that isn’t entirely true that Representatives have to live in the area they represent. They and Senators must live in the state, but the Constitution doesn’t require them to live in the district. Some states may have that law, though. Tom McClintock (R-CA4) lives in Southern California but district 4 is in the northern Sierra Nevada. It’s such a conservative area that anyone with an (R) by their name is likely to win.

  110. Checking in as a second voice from Darke County…

    Scalzi is pretty right about all this. People here are genuinely good people, they just have different views that clash, and even that is to varying degrees (and yes, i’m aware of how that can be perceived as an oxymoron). Remember, it is not only the typical ‘tea party’ extreme right who is voting for Trump. It’s likely the same profile that voted for Romney and McCain, and any other GOP candidate in the past. Most of what many would consider our moderate conservatives’ decision making regarding who to vote for begins and ends with picking the Pro Life candidate. Among my friends and relatives locally, the most moderate argument is typically “Trump is awful, I can’t vote for him, but Hillary is Pro Choice and I cannot abide that.” The biggest victory for me has been those few who have at least thrown their support to Johnson, to be honest, since I know they’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton.

    As far as local politics go, I’m about as liberal as they come in the county (among people not named Scalzi, I suppose), but I am usually a registered Republican simply because that’s the only way to vote for local officials. It is rare to get a general election for local offices (mayor, prosecutor, judges, county commissioners, etc) where a democrat even runs. I could name a dozen or so prominent county Republicans and maybe 2 democrats. It’s like they just don’t exist in the public realm around here.

  111. I will second John Scalzi’s comments, contra some of the earlier “what about people who are not liek you?”

    Much of my family lives in rural central Kentucky, which is extremely pro-Trump. (He won the Republican primary handily, with about twice the votes that Cruz got.) One of them (my brother-in-law) is Kenyan, and my nieces–his daughters–are as evidently of African descent as President Obama. I’m fairly close to my family; I rather expect that I’d hear about any overt racism, and in the five years since they moved back to KY, I haven’t.

    By media standards, yes, it’s a very racist area; I’ve heard enough jokes myself to be pretty sure of that. But in terms of “how do they treat black people who live here, some of whom are evident foreigners?” the answer seems to be “pretty much like everyone else.” (And, while well-educated, my brother-in-law isn’t a notable figure like the one local doctor or something of the sort; he runs a small construction crew.)

  112. This sounds like here too.

    It’s interesting to ponder. In general people will treat others well, but in a vacuum (or on facebook), they have no problems sharing offensive, racist, hate tinged things all day, unaware of the irony when they then claim to not be racist because they treat people nicely when they interact with them on a daily basis.

  113. I would be curious as to how the voting percentage works out at in Darke county; anecdata isn’t data, but I know at least two women in rural areas who haven’t voted Democrat EVER, but are willing to hop the fence this election because (to quote one directly) “Trump is nasty”. Darke County may yet surprise (or so we can hope).

    Also, I have to imagine that much like all the “marriage protection” amendments of the nineties, a lot of the willingness to overlook Trump’s lousier aspects comes not from maliciousness but from viewing his rhetorical victims as “removed” or “rare.” Sort of “we as a society want to make an omlette, and my own personal experience tells me the omlette is badly needed and the eggs are few and far between.” Liberals aren’t *entirely* immune to this; being pro-vaccine means some kids will get vaccine injuries, and being pro-affirmative action means that a generation’s worth of white kids have to work slightly harder than their parents did to get into the same college. I realize there’s a world of difference between getting into your second-choice college and having your marriage license revoked, but the mentality is still the same: we as a society need to make choices that benefit the whole, even if it burdens a few. (Hence our graduated tax system, now that I think about it).

    So point being, in a small town like Darke county, Black Lives Matter might seem silly because everybody knows Nancy and the cops certainly aren’t going to shoot her; or those two lesbians down the street seemed just as happy *before* they got married, so clearly what is the value of their “making it official”, when weighted against everyone’s (including their) eternal salvation. I’m not saying it doesn’t take some insulation from the outside world (or willful ignorance of current events) to realize that perhaps the victims of this policy aren’t as infrequent everywhere else as they are in rural areas; but, if your available data set SAYS “law abiding blacks don’t get shot” or “Women who get harassed can usually say something and have a male relative deal with it that week,” well… we don’t *all* consult the statistics before making what we deem a sensible voting decision, and any statistic can and should be approached with skepticism, anyway.

  114. Scalzi: ” That there is this disconnect between the private sphere and the public sphere, at least as it relates to whom many of my neighbors will vote for and the policies those people will pursue, is a thing I find interesting,”

    Ah. If that was the thrust of the original post I am sorry I missed it.

    The original post said: “This isn’t to excuse Trump or the GOP. … It is to recognize that the Democratic party in general hasn’t gone out of its way to make places like Darke county a priority.”

    And I read that to be saying Trumpers vote Trump because the Democrat party has been absent. And conversely, if the Democrat party merely showed up and showed interest in helping the locals, they might have voted Clinton. And that was what I was responding to. May be not what you were shooting for, but thats how it landed over here.

    “and is, I think, is probably a major division point generally between people who consider themselves conservative and those who consider themselves liberal”

    Conservatives tend to have more group oriented loyalty than progressives. Progressives are more focused on individual rights and individual needs.

    The conservative party can promote something that is bad for its base personally, and it can still get base support if they pitch it in terms of it being good for the group overall. We have to drop taxes on the superrich but it will eventually, someday, create new jobs down the road. Bam. Poor conservatives are behind the idea.

    Conservatives generally speaking have less doubt, but that also means they question things less. So if God says the earth was created in 6 days, bam, conservatives will support it, or at least not be hostile to it.

    Progressives tend to be less confident, doubt more, which may make them hesitant on a personality scale, but will also tend to make them more likely to question dogma and ask to examine the data directly.

    Conservatives tend to see safety in power. Progressives tend to see safety in a system that is fair to all individuals. So Republicans support a trillion dollar trench bomber, and progressives want body cams on cops.

    The who raison d’etre of conservatives is individual sacrifice for the greater good of their group identity. So, it is not surprising at all that poor conservstives in rural ohio would support Trump whos policies will do nothing to help them individually, possibly even hurt them. Trumps entire motto is Make America Great Again. The group. The nation. Not the individuals. And if some have to sacrifice for the betterment of the nation, they go along with it.

    Where it starts to go off the rails is conservatives tend to rank their groups in a hierarchy. Pence said he was a Christian, a conservative, and a republican, in that order. Well, the group hierarchy tends to continue getting smaller and smaller. So often times it boils down to something like “straight, white, male” at which point, the cost to to individuals outside their group, the sacrifice outsiders must make due to policies, has much less weight to them.

    Deport all illegals? Fine.
    Register all muslims? Sure.
    Grab every pussy? Why not?

    And a lot of these problems tie back to group identity being held more importantly than individuals as universal equals. A conservative feels they are willing to sacrifice to help their group. But they also dont care as much about the suffereing of people outside their group. They were nice to a black neighbor? Bring in a muslim from syria who doesnt speak english, someone further outside their group identity, and I guarantee you will see a different attitude than what they show you, a straight white male from the US.

    This scaling of sacrifice and suffering is what leads to conservatives making all sorts of policy decisions that would horrify a progressive or a humanist who sees everyone’s suffering equally.

    Are your neighbors idiots? No. But thats the wrong question. What causes the cognitive disonance you find interesting: your neighbors being nice neighbors while voting for Turd Trump who wont help them personally; is a different worldview that scales things differently than it does for progressives. Group hierarchy is strong, with the damage done to people further outside the group being scaled down compared to people inside the group.

    The group identity ties into power, which they view as safety. Therefore anything that weakens the group is sen as a threat. Welfare recipients are weaklings who need to toughen up lest they pull the group down.

    Your neighbors are intelligent, in that they have a set of rules and a worldview through which to interpret what they see and apply the rules to them successfully. The issue is whether the worldview is healthy and accurate and helpful in the long run.

    I think it isnt healthy. But I’m a humanist, some might say, therefore I naturally will pick my worldview as the best. Except I used to hold an extremely conservative worldview, until I saw the terrible cost it inflicted on those outside the group identity, without the filter, and I had to change.

    Being an idiot is mostly a question of intelligence. But who people “are”, is defined by their worldview, and that is outside the realm of intelligence. It requires some form of introspection. And my experience is that introspection is not something inherent in the the conservative worldview. Conservatives tend to be confident in their beliefs, and introspection requires questioning yourself. Trump cant say he was wrong about anything, and every problem he faces is someone elses fault.

    Talking about worldview brings to mind “Blindsight”, the novel about alien intelligence that had no consciousness. We act intelligently to satisfy the drives behind our worldview. But our worldview is not itself intelligent. It just is. And to examine it requires a level of introspection that is kinda rare.

    If you want to investigate the disconnect that would havd intelligent, and seemingly nice neighbors, vote for a shitstain of a human being for president who will do nothing to help them and likely will hurt them, you need to be able to understand their worldview underneath their intelligence. And most people dont even understand their own worldview that drives them.

  115. I’m going to paste the entirety of my daughter’s sister-in-law’s post on Facebook from today. THIS is the kind of stuff otherwise nice people are saying. And I just can’t even anymore.

    “Donald trump had a crass conversation with another man about a woman and he’s a POS pig that’s unfit to be president.
    Hilary Clinton ran a campaign targeting trump inciting violence in the American public and used his rallies as an example BUT it’s been discovered their camp had a hand in hiring individuals to attend his rallies and start violence. There’s video surfacing about figuring out voter fraud. She’s lied to the American public. She cheated her way into the nomination and after claiming no knowledge of the corrupt system turned around and hired the resigned DNC head to be a key part of her campaign staff. She intentionally destroyed evidence after being served with a court ordered subpoena – any green attorney knows that’s a no no and obstruction of justice. The new leaked emails show a huge pay gap in her foundation pay for gender (interesting as she publically says she wants to close the gap) and showing her comment of having a public and private opinion probably weren’t in reference to Abe Lincoln as she bullshitted her way around that question in the last debate…she’s flip flopped her positions and that is proven from videos of her. Ex. Marriage is between a man and a woman – oh but the social tides have changed on that issue, im just going to go ahead and change my fundamental belief for votes. Ex. Bash Donald trump for wanting to secure our borders yet voted in favor of building a wall prior to this campaign. the list goes on….CRICKETS on Facebook news feeds about Hilary’s wrong doings and a week’s focus on the trump/bush scandal flooded my feed
    Is trump a pig – maybe, most men are perverts ha! Does he have his skeletons – yup we all do. But I’ll take him over a two faced corrupt woman who thinks she is smarter than the American people and can buy her way out of sh*t
    And if voting for trump makes me a racist, ignorant, sexist, uneducated POS – that’s cool. I just feel he’s the lesser of two evils. And it’d be nice to live in a society where those who work their asses off each day and go to a real job – aren’t bleeding to help support all these handouts our government gives to those sitting on their asses all day sometimes getting more in assistance than someone who works 40 hours each week. Oh yes, and I’d like to afford health insurance again and have coverage that isn’t laughable.
    Rant over”

    Another whining whiner defending the biggest whining whiner ever to be a major party candidate for POTUS, spouting rw propaganda in order to justify it. To make this even more repugnant, sis-in-law is 1/2 Mexican, 1/2 Puerto Rican.

    This election has been such a nightmare, and I know we aren’t going to wake from it even when HRC wins.

  116. I also, based on personal observation, think people here are (generally) pretty decent with people they know, regardless of race/sexuality, etc

    I spent a lot of time as a kid in a very homogenous suburban community—nearly all white, Christian, and wealthy. I recall there being one other Jewish family. They lived next door to us. Everyone else, WASP all the way.

    Our neighbors were what you would call “generally pretty decent” to us, even though we were Jewish. But we were aware that it was an “even though.” And their definitions of “generally pretty decent” didn’t match ours. For example, one neighbor thought nothing of playing “jew” in a Boggle game, and when my mother said it was a proper noun and not a valid play, the neighbor said, “Oh, no, not the noun, the verb.”

    When my part-Jamaican boyfriend from the city came up to visit, no one said anything about it. But he was the brownest person within miles. I’m sure that was just, you know, coincidence. It’s not that anyone in our community (which vetted people for membership before they were allowed to buy a house and move in) was explicitly excluding people of color. It just sort of, you know, happened. Probably not a lot of them even thought to apply to be members. Can’t imagine why that would be. Same with out queer people, come to think of it. There weren’t any. Another funny coincidence that of course wasn’t anyone’s deliberate choice in any way.

    But those wealthy white Christians were generally pretty decent. To people they know. I’m sure you would have thought they were wonderful neighbors.

  117. Iain Roberts: Yeah, I wish the Democrats would contest every seat, as the major parties in the UK do. Unfortunately, though, it’s hardly cheap to do so, as there are no spending limits in US elections.

    The 6th District in Colorado is expected to cost the parties (and associated PACs) over $11 million in all, and that’s for one seat out of 435. For the Democrats to put up even a fraction of that to run in a safe Republican district doesn’t make much sense to the Party, which needs to invest limited (though still enormous) funds in competitive races.

  118. @JohnL: Whether someone identifies as pro-life or pro-choice, however, is bound up with a large underlying mass of beliefs. It’s not as simple as, if Hillary Clinton was pro-life some conservatives would vote for her. If someone is pro-life, they nearly always hold conservatives ideas about the role of women (first and primarily, as mothers and nurturers of others), the role of men (breadwinners, heads of their households and supporters of dependents, including women), the role of the family (nuclear families are the only correct families, single mothers and other family structures are injurious to society), the role of sex (procreation inside of marriage only, sexual assault is a crime only when it happens between a stranger and a “good” woman), the role of religion (only certain religions should be encouraged because America is a “Christian” nation, the purpose of the government should be to promote “Christian” values), the role of authority (“law and order,” defined as whatever keeps undesirables in line) and the role of gender (straight, gender-comformists only please). Abortion should be illegal not just because it’s considered murder (though most pro-lifers are also pro-death penalty), but also because children should be the unavoidable punishment for women who have unlawful sex and death should be the punishment for women who have unlawful abortions.

    This is another area in which conservatives show a lot of cognitive dissonance. Conservative and religious women have abortions at the same rate as other women, which means a lot of people with pro-life views are getting them. Conservatives can hold the values I’ve listed above and pass judgment on other people who don’t hold them even when their own lives bear no resemblance to their ideals. For example, in the rural Ohio town I lived in for a while, people refused to rent to my mother, a single parent, until her male boss called to vouch for her. And yet, our next-door neighbor in this wholesome hamlet overdosed on drugs.

  119. John:

    based on personal observation, think people here are (generally) pretty decent with people they know, regardless of race/sexuality, etc

    It’s the ability to be decent in person, but then turn around and accept that the “others” need to be stop-and-frisked if black, registered if they were Muslim, un-married if they’re in a non het marriage, or treated as the wrong gender if they’re trans, that has me unable to see them as “decent” people. That’s not being decent. It’s performative manners.

  120. @Solar System Wolf

    I don’t disagree with any of this. All I meant was that Trump can do all the Trumpy things he does, but they still won’t vote Hillary because of the one issue (that, yes, is symptomatic of a lot of other convoluted, complex beliefs).

  121. @Josh and @ RoseFox

    Right? That’s my experience with many “decent people”. And I’m not necessarily limiting that to Conservatives. Most people present different faces to different social groups of theirs. Sometimes those faces line up more than others.

    Like my bi-sexual friend. Everyone’s nice to her now, even if they may be aware she’s bi. If they saw her kissing a girl in the frozen yogurt joint, that attitude would change. And people aren’t as willing to share their stories of poor treatment as one might imagine. My friend thought gossip about co-workers got around fast, yet she didn’t know her friend assaulted a girl. Even though I told her one of her co-workers had done so, she still has no idea which one it could be. I had a friend once who raped a girl. None of my mutual friends with him know about it as far as I know. They probably never will. And probably there have been shitty things done by many of my friends–racist/sexist/anti-Muslim–that I will never know about. Personal experience with a person or a community proves nothing, though it can certainly be suggestive, and one hopes one can judge by it and not get burned.

    Performative manners is a great description I think, of one of the wider patterns demonstrative of this sort of thing. Everybody does it. I’m friendly to people I despise (for their behavior, not their identity, I hope) on a semi-regular basis. ‘Cause sometimes it’s easier to go along to get along.

  122. @Greg (and others) Cadeyrn: “The same is not true of Hillary Clinton. She has stated outright that she intends to destroy certain Constitutional rights”

    a background check to buy a guy is not (clutches pearls) destroying any rights.

    Second Ammendmenters need to grow the hell up. America has more guns per capita than anywhere else in the world. The next two runners up are Serbia and Yemen, countries that are either in the middle of a war or very recently had a war. Meanwhile, the firearm homicide rate in the US is the highest of any developed country. The only countries that outnumber us in that regard is pretty much every banana republic in Central and South America.

    Background checks already exist. This is what Hillary’s own website says here “She will also support work to keep military-style weapons off our streets.”

    She’ll be working with Nancy “turn them all in” Pelosi ttps:// who’s still there in the House and hasn’t changed her position for 20 years from back when she helped Bill Clinton pass a ban.

    Finally, most of America doesn’t have a firearm homicide problem at all. The vast (and I mean, vast, like 80%) majority of firearm homicides are in Democrat-controlled cities like Chicago where there is already draconian gun control and yet there are still 1000 (and counting) shootings so far in just this year. You take those cities out of the calculation and America’s firearm homicide rate is even with the rest of the industrialized nations.

    And no, you don’t get to make excuses for that. We have a gang problem. We have a drug problem. And Democrats don’t particularly want to do anything about either one. This is true because Democrats have had control of those cities for 50 years and the problem has only gotten worse.

  123. It may be worth noting that the Courts on this side of the pond have very robustly rejected attempts to undermine the law relating to the termination of pregnancies, and in one notable case the Judge went so far as to describe the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, ‘SPUC’, as deliberately lying to the Court about the ‘morning after’ pill, and even continuing hormonal contraception, in an an attempt to criminalise the behaviour of hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of decent law abiding citizens over many years.

    There’s no real doubt that much of the money to fund those attempts came from, and continues to come from, US Evangelicals who have been a bit stymied by the discovery that not only are our Judges prepared to accurately describe lies when they are lies, but that shooting people is not a viable option here. I am not surprised to discover that conservative and religious women have terminations as often as ‘pro choice’ women do; in heavily Catholic countries in Europe there are also women having terminations, and whose family size strongly suggest that they are using forms of contraception the Vatican is unhappy with.

    Women are under enormous pressure to conform to social expectations, and that applies just as much in Darke county, Ohio as it does anywhere else in the world; perhaps even more so in a place where everyone knows everyone, and everyone ‘knows’ that pro-life is pro-life, when in fact it’s pro-birth because when those babies arrive they are turned into free-loaders stealing their neighbours’ tax money.

    I don’t know how to change that, beyond recognising the fact that berating people for living in Darke county, Ohio, probably isn’t going to help, however righteous it makes the people doing the berating feel. We have an ongoing real life play out of the effects of berating people who you want to be able to work with, viz the other 27 countries in the EU, and it appears that there are quite a lot of people puzzled by the fact that insulting other people erodes the supply of good will very quickly.

    To make matters worse, it’s not just the other 27 countries in the EU that we are zealously offending; for example, US businesses have almost $600 billion invested in the UK, and today the US Chamber of Commerce described the comments of our Brexit Ministers as ‘nonsense’. In fairness, those comments are nonsense, and they have been driven by politicians with the sense of entitlement which Trump oozes from every pore, supported by people whose world view may not be vastly different to many of those in Darke county, Ohio, without the guns.

    We have seen one local politician who wants to make criticising Brexit a criminal offence, because it’s treason, in his view; he has been suspended from the Conservative Party a lot faster than prominent Republicans have removed their endorsement of Trump, but we have newspapers continuing to argue that those of us noticing and commenting on the fact that sterling has tanked are betraying our country. I think it demonstrates the need to keep trying to understand the perspective of others, whilst robustly defending our freedom to point out that we are not super special snowflakes and that sterling has, in fact, tanked…

  124. Cadyrn: ” Background checks already exist. ”

    Only for some gun purchases, not all. Only a few states have universal background checks. The rest allow certain purchases to occur without any background check. Most commonly, if the gun isnt being purchased from a dealer, no check is needed.

    So, right there, you’re bald face lying to justify your pearl clutching.

    “majority of firearm homicides are in Democrat-controlled cities”

    You ever been in a “dry” town where liquor stores arent allowed? I have. Drinking is still quite common there because people bring in booze from the next town over.

    The entire point of universal background checks is to close that massive breach in the dam that lets guns into the hands of criminals.

    Oh and yeah, there is a lot of crime in cities with gun control laws. It would be ten times worse if it were open carry and anyone could own a gun.

    I love how the NRA answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Oh really? Without universal background checks, “good guy with a gun” is nothing but “any random dude, good or bad, with a gun” and that only makes things worse.

    You’re peddling nonsense.

  125. Greg, all I can say is that I also grew up with Trump supporters – I was even raised by one – and I have a different perspective.

    I apologize if I came across as unnecessarily hostile in my original comment. I admit that I get agitated when I hear good people casually referred to as “filth” and “human garbage” and “assholes” and such (not here, but that sort of rhetoric has become pervasive in many left-of-center spaces.)

  126. Wow .. after scanning much of this .. it was full of anti-Trump cool-aid MSM talking points .. this much I expected. I was surprised at the several Trump and Darke County values defenses. I was born and farm raised in Miami County about 5 miles away from John S’s compound … now a retired Engineer in a burb of nearby Dayton. I cherish my 20 years of growing and living in the area. All of that environment and shared culture and dreams is something I would say would benefit many. Perfect .. no. In these very complex times a simpler and more predicable living environment is perhaps appealing to many people .. those who choose to live there. Andy Griffith for pres!

  127. I can understand why you feel the way you do John. I grew up in a small town that sadly didn’t share these same values to the extent your’s does. It drove me fucking nuts. Had it been more like your’s I might have returned.

  128. I grew up in Louisiana and still have a lot of family there. I have always said that the republicans could nominate Bozo the Clown for President and he would win in Louisiana. I just never thought anyone would be so stupid as to actually test that idea!

  129. Great Post and Thread with a lot of interesting comments. My thoughts.

    1) The word wonderful or decent when used in these circumstance is wrong. These are not wonderful or decent people. They are human and while they may occasionally act in a decent way towards a neighbor, their very action of voting for Trump negates any decency.

    2) It takes a certain level of asshole to publicly insult and demean a minority/woman/LBGTQ person to their face. From the description of John’s neighbors it seems that they are not that level of asshole, however from their voting pattern it is pretty obvious that they are very comfortable with others publicly insulting and demeaning minorities/women/LBGTQ persons. Actions (votes) speak louder than words.

    3) Defenders: Please have sympathy for these wonderful, decent, misguided people.

    4) Me: While I may have empathy, I sure the hell don’t have any sympathy for these cruel, uncaring, misguided people.

  130. I am reminded of Robert Heinlein’s Methuselah story where the folks are having a community meeting to discuss whether they should all get out of Dodge. Some one says her nice neighbours know her, and she is in no danger. Another lady replies something like, “You would be in danger from my neighbours, and I would be in danger from yours.”

  131. @Fabio – Was the Washington Post one of the five media outlets I cited as burying the story?

    As I said, there’s literally no defense for the behavior of the press this election. The reporting has been so objectively biased that they might get me to not vote Libertarian for the first time in a long while.

    Also people who are saying that voting for Trump is, in effect, an act of hate speech should probably consider what their words mean for the future of our democracy.

  132. “People here are genuinely good people,…”

    Who vote for a white nationalist, antisemitic, misogynist fool with zero experience in governing who can’t articulate a single policy position and who openly admires authoritarians like Putin.

    Spare me your good people, please.

  133. MRAL says “. I admit that I get agitated when I hear good people casually referred to as “filth” and “human garbage” and “assholes” and such (not here, but that sort of rhetoric has become pervasive in many left-of-center spaces.)”

    *left* of centre spaces? I’ve never heard those terms used in the spaces I attend, and that sort of rhetoric I associate with the far right. My first reaction was that you were referring to Trump’s comments about Mexicans, for example. But I also struggle to see anyone in the US as left-wing, except by comparison to the far right US norm. On a global scale, the USA doesn’t have any political leader left of centre ( has a rough analysis as an image down the page, but note that that is only for US leaders… the world scale goes much further left than Bernie – in Australia where I live he’d be centre-right).

    As pointed out above, from outside *everyone* in the USA is doing the “nice to people like us, happy to kill others”. The litany of USA “military actions” is a sordid story of murder in the name of empire (“the American Way”). As one of your people said “we destroyed them in order to save them”, a Christian allusion not lost on lots of your victims. You’d rather we were dead than different. But within the USA… there’s not even a discussion about whether wholesale murder of civilians overseas is evil, just about how much more of it you want to do.

  134. shakauvm: ” I’ve been periodically looking through the above five sites repeatedly looking for any mention of O’Keefe in them. Dead silence”

    Aw. Did the dirtbag who selectively edited an acorn hitpiece video to make it look like acorn was operating illegally, got the organization shut down, only to later have the Attorney General fault OKeefe and say acorn did nothing illegal, and the GAO say acorn had managed its funds correctly… did that dirtbag not show up on mainstream TV for another 15 minutes of fame?

    Gosh, I cant imagine why. That poor, poor, shitstain of a man.

    “people who are saying that voting for Trump is, in effect, an act of hate speech”

    I grepped this page for the string “hate speech”, and you know what? No one is saying that. But thanks for playing Silly Strawmen for Quixotic Quoters. Tip for next time: if the thrust of your argument kicks of with “people who are saying”, make sure at least one person actually said that.

  135. Scout, may I ship your in-law a boxful of punctuation marks and a grammar? (Not entirely a cheap shot. Sometimes sloppy writing mirrors sloppy thinking.)

    What strikes me is the ungroundedness of it all. When one thinks about Trump’s actual well-documented conduct, not just the harassment, but the policy of not paying small contractors (I am one handshake from 10 of them), and the racism — my step-daughter tonight was stunned by Clinton’s summary of what Trump’s deportation force would be — and against this we have same sex marriage? One has to ask of Trump’s policies what it means in practical terms to deport so many, to see the Federal government likely to default on debts (because that’s what Trump is, that’s what he does) and instead we have the evidence of no evidence against Clinton (“CRICKETS on Facebook news feeds about Hilary’s wrong doings”) — what is wrong with this thinking? The failure to pay contractors is documented, the rhetoric of deportations are documented, none of it in easily-manipulated sources, and we have all the stories about Hillary Clinton’s awfulness and no solid evidence, only stories that recede like mirages.

    What is wrong with us? How can so many of us be so disconnected from reality? (To claims that the evidence on both sides is equal, no, it is not. But why do so many believe that it is?)

  136. Emma and Moz: at the end of the day I have empathy for Trump’s base because I would want others to have it for me in a different setting. Just as I am sure Australians would want empathy despite all the horrible stuff they have done. That’s not exactly a tu quoque; that’s a practical demonstration of the need for empathy. “Who would escape whipping if they were judged as they deserved.”

    As a practical matter, at this point in the election there is not much point in discussing options that don’t currently exist. We have a choice between a man whose platform is burning down the house and a party whose platform is we have no interest in burning down the house at this time. It would be nice if we had two or more parties who had great decorating and innovative architectural ideas, but it is what it is.

  137. This is one way in which I think the Dems are really failing. Yeah, it’s easy to court the cities, who already skew liberal, anyway, but much harder to engage people in rural areas. It’s easy to “concede the district” as a “lost cause”, but when you multiply that out, you lose a significant portion of the country. Not population, maybe, but still. As John pointed out, the Republican policies do cause more economic harm to rural areas, and the Dems would do well (for themselves and the rest of the country) to get out there and engage people on this stuff–talk in realistic terms about how policies they support will help boost agriculture or reduce incentives to move production offshore (or whatever it may be). And, more to the point, LISTEN to them.

    It’s easy to poke fun at the “ignorant rednecks” but the reality is they’re not dumb, they’ve just watched their way of life get chipped away bit by bit, and nobody’s really doing anything about that. It’s a slow process, but until the Dems start putting people out there to actually engage some of these folks, they’ll continue to be seen as “the other” and “not like us” and it will be all the easier for the GOP to play to their fears and keep them angry.

  138. Everyone has a reasoning for their positions and actions. The question is, does the reasoning excuse the action? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. In the case of voting for Trump, I can understand much of the reasoning, but none of it comes close to excusing the action.

    (Generic)You wanna give the middle finger to the shitty political establishment? You ain’t. You’re just fucking over people who are even more powerless than you. Does that make you irredeemable? No. But it certainly doesn’t make you “nice people”. Plenty of people I know are super nice to me, even with my radical leftist diatribes. But they treat other people I know like shit. Being “nice” is an excuse for nothing(Not directed at our gracious host). And empathy is not agreement. Are poor white/Christian/Conservative/Republican folks in rural(and urban) areas often in shitty situations? Hell yes. I empathize with those situations. Is electing Trump the right or even a neutral response? Hell no. I don’t empathize with that. There were 17 candidates to pick from, three of which would have been tolerable Presidents. They weren’t the ones nominated, and whose fault is that? The people who voted in the Republican primaries and the ones who didn’t but want to vote Republican now, too.

    I didn’t see Clinton as the ideal choice for President. I went out and voted for someone else. Then I encouraged all my friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same. We didn’t quite manage it. But then, we had less of an even start than the Repubs. Trump getting nominated was not inevitable. It was a choice made by the recent history of the GOP yes, but also a choice made by the same electorate that is now whining “but at least he’s not Hillary!” Y’all had 17 of those, and you chose this one. Hold yourselves responsible.

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