Wednesday, November 22, 2017
 
Post-Election Anxiety Has Hardly Ebbed; Readers Focused on Great Divide

WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan 6 (DPI) – With phrases like “agenda of hatred,” “those people” and “their media”, readers on a super-active comment board on NYTimes.com remain dismayed and anxious following the election of Donald J. Trump, a sign of more unrest ahead for the nation as he takes office.

The news director of an Iowa radio station penned a column yesterday about several young peers who voted for Trump and are largely hostile to urban liberals because of what they see as excessive dependence on government.  The Times’s largely urban and liberal readers took to the comment section with an almost unprecedented fury, given the speed and support of posts: More than 2,500 comments reacted to the one column in less than a day – and several comments received thousands of reader recommendations, a rare occurrence on NYTimes.com.  It appears the American Left continues to seethe.

(The Times reported a surge in new paying subscribers following the election, which may explain the sudden and much higher number of readers on its comment boards.)

The author of the column, Robert Leonard, suggests that any Democratic candidate would have lost – a ridiculous assertion given the populist success of Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and the strong connection that Joe Biden has claimed with the working class in America. He wrote:

While many blame poor decisions by Mrs. Clinton for her loss, in an environment like this, the Democratic candidate probably didn’t matter. And the Democratic Party may not for generations to come. The Republican brand is strong in rural America — perhaps even strong enough to withstand a disastrous Trump presidency.

Rural conservatives feel that their world is under siege, and that Democrats are an enemy to be feared and loathed. Given the philosophical premises Mr. Watts presented as the difference between Democrats and Republicans, reconciliation seems a long way off.

Such closing remarks of course ignore the reality – that the Democratic candidate, almost the embodiment of a crony political insider, lost the election as much on her deep flaws as her opponent may have won on any few strengths he may have had.

The explosion of comments, almost all focused on the hatred and racism and ignorance of rural people, suggests that the American left still hasn’t grasped the loss of power. More than 3000 recommended:

I’m not sure what I can personally do to help and understand these people.
Everything I am, they resent — educated, gay, urban. I can’t change that. If I moved into their small town, they’d resent it. If I support Obamacare that provides them health insurance, they resent it. If I support an infrastructure jobs program, that’s big government and they resent it. The list goes on.
What exactly can I do? And why is it all up to me to do the understanding? If Hillary won, would they be examining their core beliefs like I’m supposed to do now?

Much of what your conservative neighbors believe about liberals is just false. They are being fed a steady diet of hatred by their media, to demonize us and discredit anything we try to do as the devils work.  Here is something that is true: I pay much higher taxes than my rural relatives do, so that my city has clean water, roads, good schools. My kid worked really hard, early and late. Studying. And she went to a good college and has a good job now, where she still has to work early and late, in addition to helping her children become excellent students.  It is true that my family has become alienated from religion–precisely because of the political agenda and hatred they the churches are pushing.  Maybe your rural neighbors need to stop listening to conspiracy theories about liberals and try to figure out how things are done in this century. Liberals pride themselves on tolerance but we are about to be fed up with the ignorant men running our states and now our nation.

More than 2200 recommended

Interesting column, but honestly, it’s not the first to appear in the NYT that attempts to explain the Trump voter in great, tortured detail while avoiding the racism, sexism and hypocrisy that was so evident throughout the campaign.
Even if you accept the notion that Mr. Leonard has identified the real truth about those who voted for Trump, then the real truth has, IMHO, exposed much of the problem that many of us lazy liberals see.
I guess I’m wondering if there has been an equal and equally sincere effort on, say Fox News, or maybe Brietbart to “understand” the liberal point of view.
I think it’s safe to say, no, and so it is no surprise that there is a whole segment of the population living in self-satisfied, holier-than-thou willful ignorance.
One of the biggest challenges for those who truly believe in personal responsibility is to have the courage to challenge one’s own beliefs and world view; to question a belief system in the face of new knowledge and contradicting beliefs, and yes, even hard evidence, that a belief system is built on a faulty foundation.
So after reading this column, I think I might conclude that personal responsibility is very low on the list of priorities for people who talk like the young men who are quoted, no matter how much they protest that notion. And I continue to think that these conservatives, and Trump, are incredibly destructive.

When Joni Ernst fantasized of her people’ supposed belief in self-reliance and rejection of government help, it was a big fat lie. Nobody takes in more taxpayer subsidies than Iowa farmers, including members of her own family. But the media lapped it all up and hardly anybody dared point out the truth. That is the essence of the American culture war: demagogues with the help of the mass media peddle in delusional narratives that have no base in reality but make a reactionary, bigoted minority – let’s be clear it’s a minority – of Americans feel good. Unfortunately, the author of this article contributes to the delusion rather than analyzing it. Most of his factual statements are dubious. Maybe more money is spent overall in urban areas but on a per capita basis, far more is spent on rural regions. In state capitals, it is often the representatives of rural districts who veto urgently needed infrastructure spending in the cities. Ask Philadelphians how they are treated by their Republican controlled legislature, how it feels to have to fight for every penny of school and transportation spending while supplying the lion’s share of the state’s tax base. And of course ask the residents of Flint about the health risk of living in a city in a Republican state. I have never seen an urban dweller express actual hatred for rural people. The converse is so commonplace it hardly raised an eyebrow when Palin suggested nuking NYC. That’s America 2017, driven by resentment and hate.

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