Williamson adroitly blames the pro-Trump, downtrodden, poor whites who are one of the most obvious victims of globalization as the source of their own problems. And his solution? People should move away from those hollowed-out communities in rural areas or the former rust belt cities to places where there is work. Just read this:
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
If you want to live, get out of Garbutt.
His words are cutting — ‘the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog’ — but to me this great writing is a front, a façade behind which lies the contempt of the deep conservatives for the poor.
The poor whites he is spitting on have been severed from the Democratic party, their natural home, by the fissure that the civil rights movement of the ’60s started and which continues to this day with the intransigent belief in the illegitimacy of Obama and the hatred of the #blacklivesmatter movement.
We are witnessing the whipsawing of a number of forces, all concentrating in the downward spiral of poor, unassimilated whites, and the rise of Trump’s populist nativism.