November 10, 2016

Seeing Red in Trump’s America

So! It happened. Hillary Clinton failed. Donald J. Trump will become the 45th of the United States. His election marks an earthquake in American politics – one that the seismic monitors of Big Media political pundits, data ...

So! It happened. Hillary Clinton failed. Donald J. Trump will become the 45th of the United States. His election marks an earthquake in American politics – one that the seismic monitors of Big Media political pundits, data heads and op-ed waxers all failed to predict.

On January 20th, 2017, Trump will take the helm of a “broken system” and lead a scarred and divided nation—fractured along lines of race, gender, and education.

Feelings of disenfranchisement and neglect were the ruling sentiments for a majority of Americans on election day. 72% of the voting electorate reported in exit polls that “the economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful.” And 68% said that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”

Our guests this week provide us with a prismatic view of America standing at a precipice.

Noted Roman historian Mary Beard reminds us that democracy has always been “more than putting a piece of paper in a box.” That it’s a process, a way of thinking. “Democracy can’t function if people don’t have information.” Later, civil war historian Eric Foner locates the seeds of the economic and cultural discontent Trump has parlayed into his victory. He argues that the cultural resentment stems from the social changes in the 1960’s, the progressive movements of feminism, civil rights and immigration reform. Also joining us in the studio: Ron Suskind, Randall L. Kennedy, Kathy Cramer, and Nathan J. Robinson.

Podcast • September 29, 2016

‘Secular Rapture’: Trump and the American Dispossessed

Working-class whites are now the reigning champs of pessimism in America.  No other group of working-class Americans — Black, Hispanic, or Asian — holds a more despairing, more dire outlook on the future of our country. ...

Working-class whites are now the reigning champs of pessimism in America.  No other group of working-class Americans — Black, Hispanic, or Asian — holds a more despairing, more dire outlook on the future of our country. According to our guest J.D. Vance, only 44% of all working-class whites now believe that their children will be better off economically than themselves.

It’s not hard to understand why: rural, de-industrialized parts of our country are hurting badly. Surging suicide rates, spiraling drug epidemics, rampant joblessness, the same kind of community breakdown often associated with poor, urban African American neighborhoods.

Donald Trump knows this. And while he may not be mobilizing “white working-class voters” as much as the punditry likes to think, much of his speech is directed at whites who are feeling disenfranchised, culturally alienated, and left behind as the coastal elite reap all the advantages of a rigged political system.

Arlie Hochschild has spent the last five years researching and writing her new book, Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. Around Louisiana bayou country, she traces “deep stories” of whites who feel they’ve been screwed over. For them, Trumpand his rebuke of corruption, civility, multiculturalism, and (especially) feminismlooks a lot like “secular rapture,” she says.

This hour, three scenes from a divided country. From the oil patches of Louisiana to the Rustbelt of southwestern Michigan to the steel town of Ohio, we’re asking where it all comes from. Hochschild and Vance are joined by one other close watcher of rural America. Novelist Bonnie Jo Campbell, in the style of grotesque noir, tells us about the pressures of a changing world and primal existential need to feel necessary and important.