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The Little Way of … Donald Trump?

Wendell Berry said this in his Jefferson Lecture [1]a few years ago:

My teacher, Wallace Stegner … thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946.

I strongly agree with Alan Jacobs that Berry is wrong to insist on such a black-and-white portrayal. [2] Not everybody who sticks is virtuous; not everybody who booms is vicious. Still, the distinction may be helpful in understanding this bit of news: Donald Trump is far ahead of Hillary Clinton among voters who stayed behind in their hometowns. [3] Excerpt:

How people plan to vote appears to correspond, albeit broadly, with whether they decided to move away from where they grew up. According to the just-released PRRI/The Atlantic poll, 40 percent of Donald Trump’s likely voters live in the community where they spent their youth, compared with just 29 percent of Hillary Clinton voters. And of the 71 percent of Clinton voters who have left their hometowns, most—almost 60 percent of that group—now live more than two hours away.*

The effect is even stronger among white voters, who already tend toward Trump. Even a bit of distance matters: Trump wins by 9 points among white likely voters who live within two hours of their childhood home, but by a whopping 26 percent among whites who live in their hometown proper.

This brings to mind a surprisingly sympathetic essay by David Hill [4], a self-identified feminist and Hillary Clinton supporter. It starts like this:

I talked at length with a Trump supporter I grew up around. I wanted to understand. I respected her growing up. I wanted to know why a person as kind and compassionate as I remember her is voting for someone like Donald Trump.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes. For her, the root cause isn’t racism. In fact, I remember her as one of the only people in the area who proudly hired black workers, in a place where that was a huge issue. She fought over that choice.

The woman has a landscaping business that crashed in 2008, when her customer base dried up in the housing collapse. More:

She told me that every week, it seemed there was another default letter, another foreclosure, another bank demanding more blood from her dry veins. To her, that pile of default notices and demands for payment looked suspiciously similar to Hillary Clinton’s top donor list.

To her, that pile of default notices and demands for payment looked suspiciously similar to Hillary Clinton’s top donor list.

She lost everything she worked so hard for. Obama swore he was going to help. The Wall Street bailout did seem to help Wall Street. But it did absolutely nothing for her. She turns on the news and sees how the Dow Jones is doing better than ever. But that didn’t bring her house and livelihood back. Liberals insist that Obama’s made her life better. But, now she’s driving a car that falls apart randomly while having to pay those same banks for a car she doesn’t own and never will. It’s difficult to convince someone whose life is objectively worse that their life is better. And it’s disengenuous to try. You can break down the specifics, sure. But when someone’s hungry, and you’re busy silencing their complaints by telling them how well world hunger is improving, you’re just going to upset them.

This is not a person who is stupid or racist. She knows Bush caused the economy collapse with his irresponsible tax policies and wars. But she saw liberals as fighting for the banks’ recovery, to hell with her needs. She sees in Hillary someone who celebrates that approach. Who measures US success by the success of multinational mega corporations — corporations who undercut and destroy local businesses. This is a person who grew up in a town with a friendly neighborhood general store, a locally-owned hardware store, farmers’ markets, florists, and auto shops. All of these businesses closed when Walmart moved into town. All their owners now work at that Walmart for a fraction of their previous wages, no benefits, and no hope for something better, something of their own. And now, she sees a free trade supporting former Walmart executive about to come in to office, and it feels like salt in her community’s wounds.

This is a wounded person. Insulting her or continuing to hurt her isn’t going to help. She’s swept up in Trump’s message because she feels someone’s finally listening. Right-wing populism is an awful thing. But desperate people with their backs against the wall will grasp on to whatever they feel will bring a change. Neoliberal capitalism is not sustainable for these people.

Read the whole thing. [4] It should be said that the standard-issue GOP wouldn’t have done anything for this woman either.

My concern is that the pro-Trump “stickers” will be disappointed by Trump, because there’s not a lot he can do to make their jobs come back. I could be wrong. Anyway, if we have an economy that rewards people for being unattached to place, and able and willing to move without hesitation, we are going to get the kind of low social capital society we have now.
Here’s an attempt by a prominent left-wing Anglican clergyman to square the circle. [5] Giles Fraser writes from London:

A thick community is one with a high degree of social solidarity and a low degree of diversity. This is the sort of community where people are similar in language and culture, and where, as a consequence, there is a high degree of trust among people. It’s a relatively stable place – not a lot of coming and going. You grow up where your parents grew up. You die near where you were born. People leave their back doors open and know their neighbours’ business. The best thing about a thick society is that people look after each other and have a high degree of civic pride. The worst is that it’s often not good at dealing with difference, or with outsiders.

A thin community is one with a high degree of diversity and a low degree of social solidarity. In this community (which often isn’t really much of a community at all) you can be as different as you like. Nobody cares. People come and go all the time – “citizens of the world but citizens of nowhere”, to paraphrase Theresa May. You don’t always have much in common with people living next door, and often you don’t even know their names. You shop online. Loneliness can be a problem. But diversity is celebrated.

Fraser talks about how multinational corporations love thin communities, because they are easier to manipulate for the labor market’s needs. He goes on to say that his own south London congregation is highly diverse, and hooray for that; shared faith is the glue that holds them together as a community. However, Britain is an extraordinarily post-Christian, secularized society. More:

Elsewhere, however, difference creates huge gaps in the social fabric, with many people now unconnected to each other, the rich in their gated communities in the sky and poor youth sitting around on the estates smoking weed. As the thick society has gradually thinned out, it is the elderly who pay the price. People don’t visit as much as they used to. We know each other less and less.

Brexit and the new mood in politics is misunderstood as a hostility to outsiders, though it is easily purloined by racists. Rather, it is a cry for community, for togetherness, for the local, for mutuality, for social solidarity. [The new Tory PM] Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, wants to find all this in a return to the past. That’s the wrong answer. But at least she’s answering the right question. We are still looking for a new – doubtless very different – St Benedict.

So I’ve heard.

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35 Comments To "The Little Way of … Donald Trump?"

#1 Comment By BlairBurton On October 7, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

“This is a person who grew up in a town with a friendly neighborhood general store, a locally-owned hardware store, farmers’ markets, florists, and auto shops. All of these businesses closed when Walmart moved into town.”

Because Walmart offered merchandise and services at prices that beat the small businesses this lady mourns. I am not defending Walmart, but this woman’s fellow citizens are the ones who shopped there instead of patronizing local small businesses to keep them going. The responsibility for the town’s failing economy isn’t quite as one-sided as some would suggest.

#2 Comment By Wes On October 7, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

I think for a long time the Republicans have received much more of the rooted vote than the Democrats.

#3 Comment By mrscracker On October 7, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

“This is a wounded person. Insulting her or continuing to hurt her isn’t going to help. She’s swept up in Trump’s message because she feels someone’s finally listening. Right-wing populism is an awful thing…”
***************
I don’t think left wing populism is so great either, but this is correct about not hurting & disrespecting people.
I don’t believe much of anything Trump says. I think he makes it up as he goes, but he’s not intentionally shaming rural & working class folks. Or assuming a moral high ground in doing so.

#4 Comment By susan On October 7, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

Why does he feel the need to understand her at all. Are we not all wounded people, even people voting for Hillary Clinton. It bothers me when someone goes beyond just accepting their decision on who to vote for may just be different, nothing more nothing less. It just sounds like feels sorry for her and not respectful of her decision. It is kind of insulting and it is this attitude I am seeing from both parties that makes me sad.

#5 Comment By Fred Waltman On October 7, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

OK, let me see if I have this right:

One post you talk about men who have no jobs and just hang around.

The next post seems to criticize people who have moved away from where they grew up. They went where the work (or school) was but this is a bad thing? They should rather sit around and be idle?

If you carry that to the extreme, this continent would still be inhabited by the native peoples (which I am sure they would like) as nobody moved more than two hours from where they were born. I don’t think I like that concept.

#6 Comment By Joan On October 7, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

My mom, explaining why, after twenty years as a Democrat, she was voting for Ronald Reagan, said “People vote their pocketbook.” Or, in the case of David Hill’s longtime friend in rural Ohio, their community’s pocketbook. For all the talk about racism and xenophobia, this election is about money. If the economy were really doing as well as government statistics make it seem, if we had full employment, Trump would be a fringe candidate who never polled more than single digits and dropped out after Super Tuesday.

#7 Comment By Scott Miller On October 7, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

Not sorry, I don’t buy the “no benefits” at Walmart line.

#8 Comment By collin On October 7, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

The biggest contraction of the conservative party is how do you have constant Economic Creative Destruction with constant Stable Home and Social Being. Long term it is impossible to have both.

And yes there is no way Donald Trump is going to bring back these higher paying manufacturing jobs. That economy was good in the 1948 – 1973 but it started burning itself out with inflationary 1970s and killed by Japan Inc. in the 1980s. (The South provided some manufacturing upticks.) Anybody against free trade needs to read up on the US auto industry of the time. The US cars in late 1970s ugly boats that sucked up expensive gasoline. (It is no accident that half worst lemons in car history were made in the 1970s) And Japan were building quality cars that used less gas that people needed to buy. And look at the impact of NAFTA? It was passed in 1993 with lots of opposition (Remember Perot) and the USA had the strongest job market ever 2 years later. That reality is not coming back no matter how Trump pronounces China. (And even if we were to magically bring China manufacturing back, for every 1,000,000 China jobs lost would be replaced by 250K US workers and 750K robots.)

#9 Comment By collin On October 7, 2016 @ 3:18 pm

The biggest contraction of the conservative party is how do you have constant Economic Creative Destruction with constant Stable Home and Social Being. Long term it is impossible to have both.

And yes there is no way Donald Trump is going to bring back these higher paying manufacturing jobs. That economy was good in the 1948 – 1973 but it started burning itself out with inflationary 1970s and killed by Japan Inc. in the 1980s. (The South provided some manufacturing upticks.) Anybody against free trade needs to read up on the US auto industry of the time. The US cars in late 1970s ugly boats that sucked up expensive gasoline. (It is no accident that half worst lemons in car history were made in the 1970s) And Japan were building quality cars that used less gas that people needed to buy. And look at the impact of NAFTA? It was passed in 1993 with lots of opposition (Remember Perot) and the USA had the strongest job market ever 2 years later. That reality is not coming back no matter how Trump pronounces China. (And even if we were to magically bring China manufacturing back, for every 1,000,000 China jobs lost would be replaced by 250K US workers and 750K robots.)

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

I guess its a good thing for Hillary Clinton that most Americans move around.

I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated.

Yes, its getting easy to ignore the proletarians. That’s why this is not the “left” you are talking about.

I know lots of people such as David Hill describes. Its a bit of a tangled mess, because actually Donald Trump is exactly the kind of person who would perpetrate the sort of damage she worries about. But, its true about Hillary Clinton’s donor list. Short of a comprehensive revolution in ownership of the means of production, its necessary to sort out things like AIG because these big financial institutions are indeed big enough that if we don’t prop them up, their fall would leave us with 30 percent unemployment. President Obama has done more than most presidents to actually regulate the people and institutions responsible, but he’s done far from enough. And in the gaps, the likes of Donald Trump (and the rest of the GOP) can rant about overregulation and freedom from bureaucracy while actually making sure this lady never gets back what she had in 2007. Which is why it would have been better to either socialize everything too big to fail, or take over everything about to fail, sell it off to recover the tax money expended, and sell it in small enough chunks that the result would be small enough we can let it fail if the new owners don’t act right.

No candidate running will say that, of course. Even Bernie Sanders didn’t come close.

#11 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 7, 2016 @ 3:33 pm

Well, Trump is from Queens, and his stuck around in his quaint hometown of New York City, rather than making his fortune elsewhere….

#12 Comment By John Ainsworth On October 7, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

I think the verse to hold in mind for this election, regardless of your politics is Psalm 138:6 – “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.”

#13 Comment By GB On October 7, 2016 @ 4:13 pm

I read about the plight of the landscaper and the first thing that comes to my mind is Mitch McConnell insisting that his party needs to do everything they can to make sure that Obama was a one-term president. The GOP put party before responsible policy-making that might’ve improved the economy — including those rural areas — in a more broad-based fashion. Yes, I understand they were being flanked on the right by Tea Partiers and the like. But again, they made the politically expedient choices as opposed to the ones that might actually help people. I’m sure they believed that what they were doing was the right thing, in the way that blinkered people often do.

As to the “stickers” vs “boomers” debate, I’m reminded of Williamson’s quote about some rural areas being “negative assets” and that U-Hauls were the best option. It was hyperbolic, but there’s some definite truth there, and I doubt someone like JD Vance would disagree (he found success by getting out!). If you’re a smart or ambitious young person, sticking to a place where there is no future is not a responsible use of your gifts and talents. Does that make your hometown a lesser place in the long run? Probably. But no politician yet has advanced a viable solution for dying rural communities. One political party has been excellent at stoking resentment from them but horrible about actually doing something about the problems.

Yet the people in those communities still vote for them. That’s the part that puzzles me. The definition of insanity and all that. America is going to get less rural and more diverse and those communities are going to continue to die. Rural manufacturing isn’t going to come back. Neither is coal. What are the people in those communities doing to change things? I’m sure there are some that are bucking the trends. Why aren’t those getting more attention?

#14 Comment By JonF On October 7, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

That billboard paean to Trump could be photoshopped for the Onion. Anyone who knows anything about Trump is aware that the description has about as much connection to reality as calling Hillary Clinton a humble housewife would.

#15 Comment By Oakinhou On October 7, 2016 @ 4:56 pm

Trump is so family dedicated he has three separate families

#16 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On October 7, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

Folks, some of the best, and scariest, reporting on Trump supporters is being done as part of NPR’s ‘Divided States of America’ series of first-person interviews. Their interview with Georgia auto mechanic and self-described Christian Jimmy Arno last month created quite a stir:

Jimmy Arno ‘said he was considering joining a local militia group. “Should martial law, civil war, whatever, break out in this country, they will uphold the Constitution and rebuild our laws,” Arno said. [NPR reporter Steve] Inskeep pressed: What war? “The war that’s going to break out when Hillary Clinton is elected, if that happens,” he said. “Your patriots are going to overthrow the government.” ‘

Here’s another example of the casual extremism of some Trump supporters, this time from Arizona:

‘[NPR reporter David] GREENE: Eileen Eagar, what do you make of what you’re hearing here [at the VP debate]? EAGAR: “Oh, my goodness. Well, first of all, while I was sitting there listening to the debate, I wanted to say, say the word murder. I even wrote it down. Say the word murder. When you take the life of a fetus, partial-birth abortion, my goodness, you’re taking the life of another human being. And this to me is murder. This is murder. And we prosecute people for murder. “‘

In other words, she wants people who procure or perform abortions to be prosecuted for felony murder, without exception.

The near-hysterical insistence of some Trump supporters that this is a ‘last chance’ election or the country is doomed strongly reminds me of the war fever that has broken out periodically in this country, most recently in 2002-2003. These pro-war outbursts have produced some of the most shameful episodes in this country’s history. The hysteria of some Trump supporters is also disturbingly reminiscent of the various apocalyptic ‘end times’ or millenarian movements that have erupted in the past, and then receded. No doubt the storm surge of Trumpism will also recede eventually; the only question is how many of our governmental traditions and institutions will be washed away in the flood.

#17 Comment By Tom S On October 7, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

Well, if the banks had not been bailed out she would have had plenty of company in terms of failed businesses and unemployed individuals. Perhaps she should recognize that the Republican Party has made it impossible for the nation to be governed responsibly, because Barak Obama is a divisive figure–apparently by his very existence, or something.
She would be infinitely better off if she voted Republicans out of office at every level, and never consider voting for a man who might well bring about the financial collapse that we avoided in 2008.

#18 Comment By ARM On October 7, 2016 @ 6:17 pm

Ick! Thanks for the reminder of why I can’t stand Wendell Berry. I guess I’m a “boomer” whatever that means, because I wanted to flee my hometown from the time I was old enough to have such an idea.

The thing is, it wasn’t a wholesome farmtown full of hay-making and organic dairy farming; it was a dying rust-belt G.M. town with no employment because the last foundry had closed, with schools where the least bit of culture or “braininess” made one an instant outcast.

Yes, many of my high-school peers have been “stickers” – they live there yet, on welfare or in dead-end restaurant jobs, and spend their leisure time at the casinos and strip-clubs that populate the local economy.

And no, I have no regrets about getting out; nor was that a moral failure. I still remember the shock I felt when I started college (elsewhere) and discovered it was possible for me to have friends who valued me, and with whom I shared some common interests. Also, the horrible claustrophobia when I feared after college graduation that I might have to go back.

#19 Comment By Jack Shifflett On October 7, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

I commend you for citing Giles Fraser, someone with whom you doubtless rarely agree. But in citing him, you might have included this passage:

“Since the 1960s we have been getting thinner and thinner. Much of that is to be celebrated. The old inward-looking Little Englander mentality, with its bad food and curtain-twitching moralism, has been transformed by the energy of diversity and difference, by immigration.”

Obviously, you may have a different opinion on the virtues of diversity, but clearly Giles Fraser thinks it, for the most part, a good thing. The question going forward seems to be whether it’s possible to have both diversity and community; I’m on the side of those who believe it to be a worthwhile goal.

#20 Comment By Greg_In_Calif On October 7, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

Rod, I think you hit the nail on the head saying ‘we have an economy that rewards people for being unattached to place, and able and willing to move without hesitation’. That’s exactly right, and not just in the US but worldwide (immigrants vs.non-immigrants in former communist countries is a very good example). I understand very well the price in social cohesion and close communities. But no one can change the economy forces, and those who, like Trump, say they can, are lying. Anyway, isn’t great American history always about boomers and not stickers (pilgrims, ‘Go West, young man!’, later Irish, italian, Jewish emigrants). So where did the spirit go?

#21 Comment By Dommerdog On October 7, 2016 @ 8:13 pm

The best way to redirect votes from Trump would be for the dems to allow Hillary to face the music her own actions have merited and replace her on the ballot with a moderate democrat. It’s clear the Republicans have no one better (in the eyes of the voting public) with whom to replace him, or he wouldn’t be the nominee.

I get angrier every time I read more about the FBI’s handling of the emails. I’m already in mortal fear of the SJW’s taking over the country, dumping us into a dark age where people fear to speak their thoughts even privately lest they find themselves in the figurative Lubyanka awaiting the arrival of the firing squad. It only takes intolerance at the top and a supportive judiciary to make that happen, and once it’s in place it will take at least a generation to get rid of, if then. Look at Stalin’s USSR for proof.

#22 Comment By peter in boston On October 7, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

Interesting! Is this politics or NewUrbs? Both? I like it!

#23 Comment By Anne On October 7, 2016 @ 9:41 pm

This constant barrage of punditry using Trump’s constituency as Exhibit A in some attempt to sell a Big Idea got to be too much for me a month ago. All I can say to these particular examples is what do they really tell us? The fact that more small town residents are Republicans than Democrats is about as newsworthy as the revelation that Julian Assange has some purloined emails he could show you. I mean, since when didn’t we know this? Being informed that one Trump voter blames Hillary Clinton for the crash of 2008 because she read somewhere that some corporate bigwigs have given money to her campaign might upset my digestion, but watching Tea Partiers carrying around signs that read “Hands Off My Medicare!” taught me a lot about managing acid reflux. Who expects voters to make sense anymore? That’s so 2008, isn’t it? At least that’s what the cynics writing about politics this year seem to be selling.

Bottom line: We’re not electing Trump’s constituency, whichever way they roll. If they get their (little) way, they’re electing Trump. Is anybody seriously here to claim he’s a sticker, not a boomer?

#24 Comment By Donald On October 7, 2016 @ 9:41 pm

Articles like that David Hill piece are about the only bright spot in this mostly miserable political season. We need a lot more people capable of empathy, whether it is JD Vance on the right or people like Hill on the left.

#25 Comment By Malloreigh On October 7, 2016 @ 10:17 pm

In’t the thin vs thick community portrayal a bit black and white its self? with the link provided to the article about Donald Trump being popular in small towns I take it this is suppose to be a metaphor about small town vs big city?

I for one, am struck by the contradiction that urban cities themselves are hometowns, even though they are not often discussed as one, they are. Toronto for example is the only place where I fit in culturally without trying. Where I can immediately tell who’s part of which subculture. I know how to cross the street here. I know where to get the 5$ lunch. All of this is even before getting into the people aspect of it. We have diversity and I am stil accustomed to walking around my neighborhood and running into people I know personally, many who like me are natives. We are not perpetual strangers and we are not online shopping hermits with no sense civic duty either. Talk about the condescension rural areas are treated with, what about the demonizing that happens the other way around, the “real America” anyone?

As far as income equality, that does not concern only the cities themselves with their gilded elite in towers surrounded by urban decay. What was David Hill talking about with the economic collapse in small towns? it is America’s problem full stop.

#26 Comment By Anonymous On October 7, 2016 @ 11:35 pm

Just so we don’t all forget how this went down…..

The president was proposing direct support to underwater mortgage holders and rick santelli went nuts, kicking off the tea party movement. The stimulus plan was smaller than it should have been because the republican leadership chose the biggest downturn since the Great Depression as a time to start worrying about the debt. It’s unfortunate that the recovery was too slow to save this woman’s house and business. But to blame that on the president seems more than a little bit too pat. These sorts of consequences are why you regulate Wall Street in the first place. But they are also the reason why, once the crisis got going, the banks had to be bailed out. It could have been a whole lot worse, and we shouldn’t forget that. But it also could have been a lot better, if we had only had more than one responsible party in washington at the time.

#27 Comment By Nate On October 8, 2016 @ 12:01 am

Nobody realistically expects a return to the manufacturing levels of the 50s. What people do expect is for the government to look out for the interests of all citizens and not just the corrupt and manipulative financial sector.

#28 Comment By Brian Stone On October 8, 2016 @ 4:18 am

I’m sorry but I disagree with him. There’s only so much you can do for a person. At some point, it is incumbent on them to seek out knowledge. To be curious about the world.

There is NOTHING about Donald Trump or his movement that could be a help to her, in any universe. In fact, Donald Trump has literally been taking steaming dumps on people like her his entire life.

I have no respect for her or anyone like her. Willful ignorance is contemptible.

#29 Comment By dan On October 8, 2016 @ 9:27 am

“This is not a person who is stupid or racist. She knows Bush caused the economy collapse with his irresponsible tax policies and wars.”

Just misinformed

#30 Comment By JonF On October 8, 2016 @ 9:45 am

Re: Well, if the banks had not been bailed out she would have had plenty of company in terms of failed businesses and unemployed individuals.

Moreover it was the Bush administration that dreamed up and began implementing TARP. It’s odd that Obama gets the “blame” for it. Another instance if historical amnesia I guess.

Re: I’m already in mortal fear of the SJW’s taking over the country, dumping us into a dark age where people fear to speak their thoughts even privately lest they find themselves in the figurative Lubyanka awaiting the arrival of the firing squad.

These fears on the Right are the mirror image of the perennial dread on the Left of Theocrats and Dominionists junking the Constitution in favor of “Biblical Law”, leading us straight to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale. Neither is going to happen because the vast majority of the American people would never get on board with such loony-tunery.

#31 Comment By bacon On October 8, 2016 @ 11:23 am

The math in posts often confuses me a bit. People who stay where they grew up are said to favor Trump and as proof it is offered that 40% of likely Trump voters have stayed home. This implies that 60% moved away. Is this a special kind of TAC number system?

#32 Comment By Robert Levine On October 8, 2016 @ 11:56 am

I strongly agree with Alan Jacobs that Berry is wrong to insist on such a black-and-white portrayal. Not everybody who sticks is virtuous; not everybody who booms is vicious. Still, the distinction may be helpful in understanding this bit of news: Donald Trump is far ahead of Hillary Clinton among voters who stayed behind in their hometowns.

How is this different from the age-old divide between those who live in cities and those who stay in the country?

Anyway, if we have an economy that rewards people for being unattached to place, and able and willing to move without hesitation, we are going to get the kind of low social capital society we have now.

Welcome to capitalism.

#33 Comment By Jonah R. On October 8, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

I love Berry’s writing, but…sheesh. The best job waiting for me in my hometown was in a call center, where I would have made a lousy hourly wage making or answering phone calls for a big corporation, possibly for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for the rest of my life, or until the company decided to move the call center to another state for tax reasons. If I’d shown intelligence and drive, I might have become a supervisor of the call center.

I can look back now and see the beauty and grace in my family and friends who became local school teachers or who run local businesses or who find humor in their call-center work. I’m painfully nostalgic for the sense of community I can no longer be a part of. But I can see the place clearly now, and exalt its beauty, only because I gave myself options and got out, and the place is no longer just about how the heck I’m going to pay the next set of bills

And frankly, when I go back home and try to express to people how lovely it is there, they think I’m nuts. I learned to stop doing that decades ago.

#34 Comment By Mitchell On October 8, 2016 @ 5:09 pm

Even liberal Dean Baker thinks that Trump is right about persistent trade deficits:

[6]

“The United States currently has an annual trade deficit with Mexico of more than $60 billion a year. This corresponds to a loss of around 500,000 jobs in the United States. That is the reality.

There is also an issue that the actual and potential shifting of jobs to Mexico can put downward pressure on the wages of manufacturing jobs that remain in the United States.

These are the realities of trade. It’s not clear that Donald Trump has any serious way to address these issues, but he seems to have a better grasp of them than the folks at CNN.”

#35 Comment By Evan On October 9, 2016 @ 1:10 am

This piece makes an important point. We have an economy that generally rewards a willingness to pick up and move elsewhere, and that’s probably not going to change. Therefore, we face the challenge of creating islands of thickness within otherwise thin communities.

This presents an amazing opportunity for the revival of Christianity, as the Christian narrative provides a thick narrative that doesn’t depend on time and place. When we recite the Nicene Creed on Sunday morning, we join with Christians around the globe and throughout the ages who recite the same words and proclaim the same message.

So, why isn’t the Christian church growing in the US? I’d suggest it’s because we’ve not truly adopted the thickness of the Christian message. By in large, American Christians look for thickness outside of the Christian message–in politics, work, civic activities, and the like. In general, we don’t expect Jesus to bring us into His thickness; rather, we expect Him to endorse the diverse ways in which we’ve created our own thickness.

That explains why we have so much trouble getting along. I grew up in a heavily Dutch community in the upper Midwest. We were evangelicals, but we didn’t know it. We were political conservatives, but we probably didn’t know that either. What we did know is that we were Dutch. In fact, my hometown was so Dutch that you could tell from people’s appearance whether they hailed from the Frankish (southern) parts of the Netherlands or from the Frisian (northern) parts of the Netherlands. “Being Dutch” provided a framework for life. To be a good Dutchman was to be thrifty, hard-working, honest, humble, generous, self-disciplined, and transparent. I stayed within that subculture for college, and didn’t break free of it until I went to graduate school at the age of 23.

Church was a big part of my life growing up, but not in any distinct way. Church was largely subservient to the culture. There was no distinction made between “being Dutch” and “being Christian.” Whether it intended to or not, the church taught us that these were one in the same. The thickness of my community had little to do with the fact that it was heavily Christian, and everything to do with the fact that it was heavily Dutch. The church tended to reinforce the notion that one could be a good Christian simply by doing the things that other nice Christian people did. But, truth be told, for me, that had more to do with a deeply felt allegiance to “being Dutch” than anything else.

I’ve lived in various places around the US, and have observed much the same phenomenon elsewhere. In most places around the US, “conservative Christian” churches tend to focus less on conserving the Christian message and more on conserving what they view as the best aspects of their local culture. My freshman-year roommate was a Presbyterian from South Carolina, who struggled with the fact that Dutch Calvinists from Michigan and Ontario (mainly) held such different values from Scots-Irish Calvinists from South Carolina. For him, being a Christian was to be a “Southern gentleman.” That clapped in certain respects with “being Dutch.” He transferred to a college in Georgia after that year.

In the US, the conservative-liberal divide in Christianity has always run along a local-global fault line. Liberal Protestants proclaimed a faith in which Christ was the champion of the internationalist order that sprang to life following WWII. In fact, liberal Protestants were so successful at remaking the world order in their image that they were free to stop attending church. Conservative Christians focused on the merits of the local. They proclaimed a faith in which Christ was the champion of local virtues, such as being a “Southern gentlemen” or “being Dutch.”

These are all worthy endeavors, but they are not particularly Christian. Christ is no more a cheerleader for Bretton Woods internationalism than he is a cheerleader for “being Dutch.” Conservative Christians got the former point, but missed the latter one.

One of the benefits of our moving into a post-Christendom culture is that it allows us to clear the field of thin Christianities–Christianities where Christ is little more than a cheerleader of secular wisdom, whether it be globalist wisdom or localist wisdom. Perhaps it’s time to let Christ speak his own message.

The existence of thick subcultures, such as the one that nurtured me, made that difficult a generation ago. The erosion of those thick subcultures–either by mobility or by the internet–creates an opening for the Gospel that it hasn’t had before. No longer does Christ need to infiltrate our local subcultures and pass himself off as a cheerleader of our values. Our increasingly diffuse (and increasingly banal) culture provides an opening for the Gospel.

I fear that the BenOp is little more than a latter-days attempt to recreate the kind of thick subculture that I experienced in my youth. I owe much to that upbringing, and wish that my kids could experience much the same thing. Even so, that world is passing away, as few kids from my generation returned home (due to the unavailability of decent jobs). And, as decent as that upbringing was for me, it also made me tone-deaf to the Gospel. I had conflated the Gospel with a set of cultural virtues. We had done at a local level what the liberals had done at a global level: We had fashioned a self-made Jesus who did little more than waive a pom-pom for the home team. We had Christian culture, but without the Christ. If there’s any merit to this atomistic culture of ours, it is to be found in its refusal to comfort our innermost longings–longings that only faith in Christ is meant to satisfy.