Buyer remorse sets in for flyover country Trump voters
Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories. Seems like they could have saved themselves a bunch of trouble by listening to a Hank Williams Jr. album instead: "I live back in the woods, you see / My woman and the kids and the dogs, and me / I got a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4-wheel drive / And a country boy can survive ... "
Until a few months ago, that was pretty much my life, although I'd have had a hard time without some real country boys' help. There wasn't a man on our road that couldn't do a dozen things I couldn't.
So I knew the Russian trolls who sent threatening emails hadn't talked to anybody I knew. I'd have been warned before they got out of Perry County.
That said, except in a couple of cases, I have no idea who my friends voted for. In rural Arkansas, people just don't talk about politics. Especially if they suspect it might cause bad feelings. Some were aware of my public identity; most were not. My wife went around with a Hillary bumper strip, but nobody said a thing about it. They already knew she'd grown up in Little Rock.
Perry County voted 70-24 percent for Trump; Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, 56-39 for Clinton.
Because here's the deal: the same urban/rural divide big city reporters are exploring exists within states and regions, too.
So I am unmoved by Gary Abernathy's hurt feelings. "The reality of life in rural flyover country is lost on those who mock us," writes the smalltown Ohio editor in The Washington Post. "These are the places where Donald Trump won the presidency, where people know they are ridiculed by East and West Coast elitists."
Well, boo-hoo-hoo. An elitist, to Abernathy, seems to be anybody who objects that the president of the United States acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kremlin.
I find myself more persuaded by New Yorker reporter Peter Hessler's conclusions. Even after being penned up and screamed at during Trump pro-wrestling style rallies last summer, he ended up thinking that "people have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can't be taken for granted ... Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them."
Amen. Yes, many Trump voters have undeniable fascist leanings, even if they don't like you calling them that. Millions of others simply got conned into giving their vote to somebody they saw as crude but honest -- a billionaire apostle of the working man.
But even here in Arkansas, buyer remorse is setting in. Last February, voters here gave Trump 60-35 positive over negative rating. By July's Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey, he'd fallen to 50-47 positive, a sharp drop. A remarkable 40 percent of Arkansas voters "strongly disapprove" of the Trump presidency.
And that was last week, before the president's bullying and berating his own (Southern-accented) attorney general, possibly presaging a constitutional crisis.
If Trump starts that fight, I believe he'll lose it.
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