"China's Lost Cities", "Oracle Bones", "River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze", Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip", Peter Hessler, President Trump, Rural America, The New Yorker
In the past eight months, I have never heard anybody express regret for voting for Donald Trump. If anything, investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia have made supporters only more faithful. “I’m loving it—I hope they keep going down the Russia rabbit hole,” Matt Patterson told me, in June. He believes that Democrats are banking on an impeachment instead of doing the hard work of trying to connect with voters. “They didn’t even get rid of their leadership after the election,” he said.
We were at a coffee shop, and Patterson wore his goth look: silver jewelry, painted nails. “I’ve never been this emotionally invested in a political leader in my life,” he said. “The more they hate him, the more I want him to succeed. Because what they hate about him is what they hate about me.
— from Peter Hessler’s New Yorker article, Follow the Leader: How residents of a rural area started copying the President.
I suspect some readers of this blog site mirror, to some degree, my difficulty in understanding the continuing appeal of President Trump to those “Outside the Beltway” — the title of this particular category of MillersTime’s posts.
Peter Hessler, the author of the article above, is someone I have read for years. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer who wrote one of the best Peace Corps books/memoirs I’ve ever read, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. He followed that up with Oracle Bones, then China’s Lost Cities, and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 2000 reporting from China and Egypt. In 2007 he moved to rural south west Colorado.
If the two quotes above have interest for you, check out the article from which they are quoted. Hessler has spent at least eight months listening to people in rural Colorado (and elsewhere?) and currently lives Ridgeway, CO,
Interesting article. But it completely ignores that our past president started this great divide among people. Even though there has always been divisions in America, I found that our past president made racial, economic , religious and educational divides greater.
I frequently think that between liberalism and conservative, there is common sense. I think we need more of that
Thank you for sharing this piece, Richard, and for introducing me to the author whose memoir I look forward to reading.
The article is utterly depressing and disheartening and does nothing to help me better respect why so many supported/support Trump. Essentially they are mad and spitting on others makes them feel better, especially when another guy does it and then they can pile on. There is no substantive policy discussion in their words. There is plenty of mockery, plenty of troubling excusing of outright and borderline hate speak, and plenty of willingness to lie and spread the desire to believe in falsehoods.
I disagree wholeheartedly with Carrie who blames Obama for making our divides worse. Racism and rampant economic inequality that NO ONE dealt with in any good way are largely to blame for what happened during Obama’s tenure and prior to that.
Have the Dems been tone deaf? Absolutely. Do they lack strong leadership who can clearly get a positive, progressive message out AND do they seem unable to strategize re: campaigns and elections? Yes.
But I am hardpressed to think of any recent policy, and by recent I mean since the Contract With America way back in the 90s, offered by Republicans that seeks to expand care for our populace. Their policies most often benefit upper middle class and wealthy white Christians at the expense, and often damning and damaging expense, of all others.
The ACA, imperfect as it is, covers more people in accessible ways than have ever been effectively covered before. The Paris Accord and substantive EPA and climate work that Dems support are both based in scientific fact believed by the overwhelming majority of actual scientists (as opposed to industry shills and fake ones) and on behalf of all Americans and global citizens. No Democrat would EVER have appointed such an abject, dismal, unbelievably inept education secretary as Betsy DeVos who is weakening public education at every turn.
I am truly despondent over the state of discourse in this country and in the complete lack of leadership in Washington and beyond, especially on the Right.
PS- I should add that I don’t wish to invalidate the anger that many in this country feel. Since the election, I have become better aware of and concerned about and desirous to do something about that. It is inordinately humbling and worrisome. BUT, a president who acts like a spoiled toddler stamping his feet to get his way and place the blame ANYWHERE but where it belongs doesn’t do a damn thing to solve the problems causing the anger. It might serve as a release valve but lying and behaving from the perspective that “The more they hate him, the more I want him to succeed. Because what they hate about him is what they hate about me.” is childish and does nothing to better this country and the opportunities for people in it.
As the resident “Unknown Conservative”, I’ll throw in my two cents….and a suggestion that I think both sides will really enjoy.
The article was good…..he *almost* gets it…..and Democrats won’t win another election until they DO get it…..
Since I”m a libertarian, I”m no fan, and never was….of Trump….he’s a big government statist….I’ve known he was a brass knuckle blowhard New Yorker since 86….but I must say, since he won, it’s been Christmas every day. AS I’ve said all along, people in DC have to understand;…..it’s OK for Silicon Valley, the Permian Basin, and the coastal cities to be wealthy……..but Fairfax, Montgomery and Loudon counties are among the wealthiest counties in the country!!! And you wonder why an outsider won?
The author of the article hides his disdain for the “deplorables” as best he can….does a pretty good job of it actually, but here is something the coastal elites refuse to understand. The deplorables aren’t stupid.
We are all subject to confirmation bias……but I think if you are truly interested in understanding what’s happening……listen to Sam Harris’ podcast with Scott Adams as his guest.
I listen to Sam Harris, despite his sneering condescension and “NPR voice” because he usually has worthwhile guests. Scott Adams has predicted Trumps rise all along, as he understands persuasion, and Trump is a master persuader.
So whether you are left or right, check out Sam Harris’ recent podcast: https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/triggered
Emily Nichols Grossi said:
Thanks for sharing the Sam Harris podcast link- he is so condescending! BUt he is intelligent and I appreciate your perspective on Adams and his thoughts on persuasion.
william Plitt said:
Thanks Rick for providing this article for me to read. I believe we need more such articles to better understand “the other”, and attempt address their basic concerns in moving forward. BiLL
Carrie, Emily, Anon-2, Bill,
I thank each of you for your thoughtful and respectful Comments.
I did spend the two hours and 17 minutes that it took to listen to the Sam Harris podcast to which Anon-2 referred readers and found it tremendously informative and useful, particularly in my ongoing struggle to understand DT and his followers. I highly recommend it to readers. While it is quite a time commitment, and starts a bit slowly, the first hour will introduce you to Scott Adams and his explanations about DT, etc. and information and understandings that I did not have previously. Much thanx A-2.