One of the reasons I wrote Flyover Nation was to explain the divide between the west and east coasts (beltway included) and flyover: You know, the people revered as “the working man” until political allegiances shift at which point they're denigrated as “rednecks” and “hillbillies.” I read this piece, which got me thinking about this cultural misunderstanding again, and responded to it on Twitter. While I think the piece is well-written and its premise is correct (and admittedly, I don't know anything about the author's politics, leanings, or whether he prefers kale chips to pork rinds) I did get the strong impression, intentional or not, that had the people discussed in the piece supported Clinton, they would have been given more grace. Maybe my perspective on this issue is made sensitive by years of media typecasting flyover denizens. I still think the media helps the political class exploit flyover folks, though.
As I said on Twitter, there are a lot of flyover and rural folks supporting Donald Trump, sure, but it's foolish to underestimate a Clinton's draw in that same demographic. Everyone thinks that flyover folks, rednecks, hillbillies, whatever noun or pejorative you call them, are staunchly Republican. Hollywood fans the flames of this characterization. For instance, sadly about three-quarters of my rural family is for Clinton. It’s a union thing. My rural family are people who work in quarries, on assembly lines, in machine production, in car plants, in classrooms, they're mostly all union folks. They don't cross a picket line and one time while I was in high school during a big supermarket union protest in St. Louis, my step-dad turned around and went home without groceries as he'd sooner starve than cross a picket line. They're an under-represented and under-appreciated demographic and for years Democrats just assumed that if they paid unions lip service that unions could get these folks to the polls.
It's slowly changing now. For instance, Hillary Clinton's anti-gun stance is losing these people. Her party can't produce the jobs they say they created and as Democrats tell working folks that the economy is better than ever working folks are opening their wallets and seeing only dust bunnies. Democrats say they're creating jobs but block projects like the Keystone pipeline while financially penalizing businesses with such burdensome regulations that businesses have to hire people overseas to save and keep their doors open. After creating the conditions unfavorable for hiring American workers Democrats then excoriate businesses for trying to work around said conditions. People are stupid, well, some of them are, but most of them are just too busy keeping up with work, kids, and paying bills to pay much attention to the purposefully complex machinations of Washington.
While pop-culture portrays all of flyover as Republicans, the truth is that many flyover/redneck/hillbilly/rural folks are Democrats. Yet due to the issues I listed above, the left is slowly losing its narrative of being pro-working man. The working man has a hard time supporting a party that espouses the “virtue” of never actually working.
I've witnessed a lot of media hype up the redneck element of Trump support while ignoring the redneck element of Clinton support. If you’re a redneck and for Hillary you’re “for the working man.” If you’re a redneck and for the GOP/Trump you’re a “racist bigot.” See? It's been this way for ages, before Trump ever seriously contemplated running. Now that Democrats are beginning to lose this flyover demographic, they've begun demonizing them more. It’s unfair and shows how they never appreciated them. The same rednecks who voted for Clinton may now vote for Trump yet their characters weren’t impugned then the way they are now.
You will see more of an effort to demonize rural/flyover/redneck/hillbilly folk as a result. A theme of my latest book.