Please allow me to speak conversationally…
I was raised rural in the Appalachian Mountains. I spent my childhood split between exploring the ridgelines, hollers, and creeks with my cousins to playing Nintendo, screwing around with PCs at the onset of the internet, and watching Nickelodeon on C-Band satellite. We raised a garden for fresh vegetables and to save money when dad was on strike or laid off from the mines.
In other words, our lives have been pretty simple, or at least as simple as we could keep them.
But this simplicity has become the bain of our existence. A lot of people living in urban and suburban areas use our simple lives to label us as simple and dimwitted while they focus the might of their numbers into public policy. That public policy helps pave the way for capitalists to satisfy urban desires (cheap agricultural products, material goods, and fossil fuel based energy) at the cost of our rural needs (clean air, clean water, living wages, etc). Stereotypes of rural people as ignorant, backwards, and in some cases, racist, provides cognitive dissonance for what many assume to be equitable treatment amid the divisions of labor we face.
But we aren’t stupid; we know more than many people give us credit for. So when someone assumes that our problems are created in-house by our own “lack of intelligence,” and they come across as if they know more about what’s good for us than we do—we don’t take kindly to it.
Here again, I will quote Ron Eller as he attempts to enlighten people from outside of Appalachia (and please feel free to add many rural southern communities as well),
“…efforts to explain and deal with the social problems of the [Appalachian] region have focused not on economic and political realities in the area as they evolved over time, but on the supposed inadequacies of a pathological culture that is seen to have equipped mountain people poorly for life in the modern industrial world.” frm Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers
So for all those folks who sit around looking at election maps of Trump Country and spitting venom towards us, they need to realize their own ignorance. Many votes for Trump were votes against Hillary and the people she represented i.e. people from urban areas who have demeaned and discounted rural communities since God knows when. They ignore our input and deal out policy after policy that they believe is in our best interests. It’s also worth pointing out that many Democrats within the mountains couldn’t stomach voting for Hillary, so they just didn’t vote at all.
The fact that Trump, a wealthy white New York megalomaniac, became the lesser of the two evils for rural communities, speaks volumes to the flaming hatred for the liberal elitism people have come to see housed within the modern day democratic party.*
Rather than address the issue, large portions of the liberal elite want to once again shuffle blame onto the “ignorant, racist, rural folk.” But they themselves are the ignorant, racist ones, preaching from lives of privilege born on the backs of the rural working class, proselytizing to us from the high and mighty pillars of institutionalized racism raised by the blood and damnation of classism.
As educated as people want to believe themselves to be, they remain woefully uneducated in these bits of common sense, of the basic comprehension that under the afore mentioned circumstances, urban provincialism will always drive rural dissidence.
So here’s some food for thought: If people want to save the world, look at yourselves in the mirror, then take some time to listen to the people who might just know how best to save it. After all, we live closer to the land than most, even when we have to destroy it to supply insatiable wants.
*Note: This isn’t to say that right-wing conservatives are much better. Their idea of saving rural people is creating jobs, most of which sell our labor to the lowest bidders so they can reap all the surplus value. They still fall well within the scope of “Privileged White Know-It-Alls.” They just know better than to come in and try to tell us how to live. Instead, they just make it so we can only live a certain way—usually with ample amounts of mandatory overtime on non-livable wages.
**I’d like to apologize to my readership for the seemingly unprofessional title that was the original for this post “It’s not Trump, It’s Privileged White Know-It-Alls.” My original title was going to be the current one, “It’s Not Trump, It’s Urban Provincialism” Firstly, I knew that title wouldn’t draw but a select, minimal, readership, upon its release, and two, I wanted a title that would “stir the pot” as they say. It succeeded and I was accused of stereotyping, Appalachian victimization, warned that I am biting the hand that feeds me (from a place of concern), and more. I will leave it to my readers to guess who and where these accusations came from. It would be easy to say that I feel vindicated by the fallout, and I’m sure many are thinking I’m ever the more pretentious for having said it. But those are the people who do not truly know me.