I have a theory about Trump voters. First and foremost, there is the party voter. They follow blindly, just like an old woman in Ohio stated. “I am committed to supporting the conservative party, even if it’s being led by the “Jackass” Donald Trump.”
Then there are the haters, the ones who dislike everything that is different from them. They don’t want immigrants or refugees in the country their forefathers migrated to. In their world there is no room for other religions, in their world there is not much room for liberal nonsense like women’s rights or environmental protection.
And last but not least, there are the low-income voters in the rural areas. They are nice people, not very well educated. They feel they have been left behind when technology changed our everyday living. They don’t want to change their way, the want the world to change back the way it has been. They hope to get jobs back that will never come back. They hold on to a dream, that can’t come true.
Trump baited them with promises he won’t be able to keep and they grasped the last straw in the hope of a better life…and who could blame them.
I will never understand the party voters or people who hate, but I wanted to understand the third category. They rural voter, the ones we so often call Hillbillies.
hill·bil·ly = An unsophisticated country person, associated originally with the remote regions of the Appalachians.
We have more words for them. We call them ‘white trash’ or ‘rednecks, ‘ and we use these words openly, almost like a form of endearment, even though we are knowingly offending them.
I am a farm girl, was born and raised in a rural mountain area right between Austria and Italy and perhaps that’s the reason why I wanted to know more about the hillbillies here. Something -anything- please, help me understand!
I found a book online called “The Hillbilly Elegy” written by J. D. Vance, and I ordered it after I read some of the reviews.
The book came and it rested on my side table for quite some time. I moved it further and further back on my reading list. Somehow I had the feeling it would be a dramatic read; I was afraid the book would make me angry.
Then I started reading it and finished in two days. It’s one of those books one should not start reading late at night.
If you want to understand the 2016 election and Trump’s win, then it’s a must read.
It’s a great book that helped me to understand the complexity of white poverty. It gave me an insight of the poor, white working class and their family structures. The author takes you through his childhood growing up in hillbilly country, in white working-class sections of Kentucky and Ohio. He describes the collapse of the once-vibrant but fragile economy in these parts and the resulting resentment that led to family breakups and dependence on alcohol and drugs.
Vance speaks of the deep family loyalty and loving ties that permeate the people of the region but also speaks of how these ties also sadly make them turn inward and harbor an almost hostile suspicion of ‘outsiders’. The author is blunt when it comes to assigning blame. While it is true that offshoring and outsourcing have led to a significant decline in the quality of life in the rural areas because of no fault of theirs, the raging drug and alcohol dependency and single-parent households also show a lack of personal responsibility. They rather blame everything on every other factor except themselves.
The book introduces you to Vance’s grandmother, a woman who mouthed profanities and would scare off strangers with a shotgun, but who also urged her grandson to get out and make a life for himself. So many similarities to my own upbringing. “Don’t take over the farm, go out and see the world.”
I think it is an important book that explains a lot, without excusing it. Every politician, every teacher, everybody in a leading position should read it. It should be on the reading list in high schools. That’s at least my humble opinion.
From the Back Cover
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.
The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.