A sad view of my ruined hometown. The big boarded-up building is where I went to high school.
Brad King is writing a book about Appalachia.
Imagine you are in your mid-forties, you have two children, and you live in a place where thereâ€™s been no new businesses developed in the last thirty years. You live well off the beaten path, along one of myriad state routes that used to be the lifeblood of the country but now largely serve as a reminder of how forgotten you are. That lack of transportation infrastructure and cost of doing business due to regulationsâ€” oversight that you know makes your life betterâ€” discourages corporations big and small from coming into your town.
With no new businesses, increasingly you are forced to depend upon the government to provide you basic services like healthcare and unemployment insurance. You hate that, but you also have little choice. You donâ€™t have the money â€” or connections â€” to moveâ€¦somewhere else.
In each election season, you find yourself making a choice: continue receiving government help, which you know will not make your childrenâ€™s life better, or forego those basic services in hopes that your townâ€”one forgotten by the countryâ€” has the chance to create jobs that may provide you, and your children, the chance to carve out a life.
The choice each election season is the same, but the circumstances in which you live are getting worse because where you live isnâ€™t part of the growth of the country.
So which do you choose: government help that you know will be there but that doesnâ€™t provide a future, or the chance to maybe build something new (and knowing that if you fail, you will be worse off than you are)?
You must choose one or the other. If you decide not to choose, then youâ€™re told you have no right to complain. Andâ€” by the wayâ€” no matter which you pick, people will chide you for being too stupid to know the right answer? …
After two hundreds years, the choice between the do-gooder who ends up stealing your money and the asshole who doesnâ€™t care whether you live or die is pretty simple: Iâ€™ll take the asshole every time. And the people who seem to care the least about meddling in their business arenâ€™t the Democrats, who waged a war on poverty and who have come trying to tell them how to fix their world. No, the people who believe in the least government and have a laissez-faire attitude about helping people are the Republicans.
The people who you think are voting against their self-interest are doing something quite different. They are just looking for a level playing field, one where they control their land, their economy, and their community. They arenâ€™t voting against their own self-interest.
They are voting on themselves because nobody else has ever come to help them.
Read the whole thing.