“How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind”

That is David Wong’s title, not mine, and he offers the most vivid, relatable account of the Trump phenomenon I’ve seen. It is hard to pick excerpts and should be read in full. But here are bits:

If you don’t live in one of these small towns, you can’t understand the hopelessness. The vast majority of possible careers involve moving to the city, and around every city is now a hundred-foot wall called “Cost of Living.” Let’s say you’re a smart kid making $8 an hour at Walgreen’s and aspire to greater things. Fine, get ready to move yourself and your new baby into a 700-square-foot apartment for $1,200 a month, and to then pay double what you’re paying now for utilities, groceries, and babysitters. Unless, of course, you’re planning to move to one of “those” neighborhoods (hope you like being set on fire!).

In a city, you can plausibly aspire to start a band, or become an actor, or get a medical degree. You can actually have dreams. In a small town, there may be no venues for performing arts aside from country music bars and churches. There may only be two doctors in town — aspiring to that job means waiting for one of them to retire or die. You open the classifieds and all of the job listings will be for fast food or convenience stores. The “downtown” is just the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered in Walmart’s blast crater, the “suburbs” are trailer parks. There are parts of these towns that look post-apocalyptic.

I’m telling you, the hopelessness eats you alive.

…”But Trump is objectively a piece of shit!” you say. “He insults people, he objectifies women, and cheats whenever possible! And he’s not an everyman; he’s a smarmy, arrogant billionaire!”

Wait, are you talking about Donald Trump, or this guy:


You’ve never rooted for somebody like that? Someone powerful who gives your enemies the insults they deserve? Somebody with big fun appetites who screws up just enough to make them relatable? Like Dr. House or Walter White? Or any of the several million renegade cop characters who can break all the rules because they get shit done? Who only get shit done because they don’t care about the rules?

6 thoughts on ““How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind”

  1. The idea that small town’s suck is the liberal bs version of the conservative bs idea that blacks in America live in hellish poverty or that city folks don’t care about faith, family, and hard work, etc. Small towns have insurance salesmen, doctor and nurse shortages, and teachers just like cities. In small towns, part time musicians, artists, and aromatherapists struggle to get by and work odd jobs on the side just like in big cities. There is nothing particularly small town or big city about values, either – Billy Graham was born and raised in a city and Bill Clinton in a small town.

  2. It’s curious that he hardly even mentions the issue trump supporters care most about: immigration. I suspect it’s because it’s less fun to find movies where a town blames an exploited minority of immigrants for all the areas’ problems.

    Small town trump-supporters may hate elites, but the original chant that led the movement was not “fuck the elite”; it was “build that wall!” (led not by some small town rebel-rousing candidate but by the only powerful urbanite that was willing to state it bluntly). Sure, small towns may feel like their livelihoods are being “threatened” but their main enemy is not a powerful elite but a weaker, up-and-coming challenger.

    You could even turn his argument on its head and claim that their resentment of hispanic immigrants ties in nicely with the clear underlying racism of the campaign, and maybe that they hate the elites only because they are more powerful (and snooty) competitor who seems to be siding with their rival.

  3. I would imagine these people were particularly responsive to trump’s anti-immigration message less because of pure racism and more because the agricultural jobs they often depend on are being taken over by illegal immigrants who are willing to work for less than minimum wage. I hadn’t considered that perspective, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

  4. …”But Trump is objectively a piece of shit!” you say. “He insults people, he objectifies women, and cheats whenever possible! And he’s not an everyman; he’s a smarmy, arrogant billionaire!”

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