Sunday, November 27, 2016

State newspapers also looking at angry rural Trump voters

For Sunday reading, here are two more additions to the topic of "why did rural, low-educated Wisconsin (allegedly) turn so drastically toward Donald Trump?"

The first is from Rick Romell of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who went to Western Wisconsin to talk to the group of (mostly) guys who came out in force for Trump, flipping numerous counties from Barack Obama and the Dems in 2012 to Trump and the GOP in 2016. Here are some of the reasons these people gave.
“He’s for us,” said Richard Zastrow, 54, a worker at the Gold'n Plump chicken-processing plant in Arcadia and a part-time farmer who keeps about 100 beef cattle. He’s going to help us as much as he can.”...

“I know that Trump is no saint,” said Ed Tulius, who planted a “Hillary for Prison” sign in his front yard in Whitehall. (But) I really think that (for) me and a lot of people that I know around here, it was a way to break the system.”

A few cited “facts” that aren’t facts — that immigrant business owners pay no taxes for seven years (not true); that food-stamp recipients cheat the program by drawing cash from their accounts at grocery checkouts (not possible, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services); and that America has a special covenant with God (not verifiable, at least in the scientific sense).

Two men said flat out that there was no way they would vote for a woman. Another warned against being on the streets of St. Cloud, Minn., at night because of drug users and because “there’s muslims all over.”

A fourth man, a resident of Arcadia, which has seen its number of Hispanics jump from just 74 at the beginning of the past decade to over 1,000 today — more than a third of the total population — derided “border jumpers” and said he wanted Trump to “just make it where it was, where a working white guy has a chance.”
As usual, these feelings from rural Trumpland is a combination of legitimate anger and frustration over limited job prospects and a world that has passed them by, and a false consciousness over the reasons why these things have happened.

A similar article with those themes came out in today's Wisconsin State Journal, where head political writer Mark Sommerhauser went to Adams County and took a look into why a county that previously was a Wisconsin bellweather went for Trump by nearly 22 points over Hillary Clinton.
State Rep. Joan Ballweg, a Markesan Republican whose district includes Adams-Friendship, credited the Republican Party of Wisconsin for ramping up its visibility and campaign efforts in the county in recent years.

Ballweg described Adams County as home to many people who "have been hit harder by the stagnant economy."

"A lot of those folks feel like Mr. Trump talked like them and felt like them," Ballweg said.

What Rep. Ballweg says has a basis in truth (Adams County's economy does suck, even by the sub-standards of rural Wisconsin), but let's back out for a second. Why did those same voters in Adams County not blame the Republicans who were in charge of this state, and voted to retain State Reps. Scott Krug and Ballweg, while voting to remove Dem Julie Lassa from the State Senate? And why didn't they blame US Sen. Ron Johnson for the failed status quo, as they voted for (mo)Ron by 15 points over Russ Feingold?

Sommerhauser also talks to Dem backer Steve Pollina from Adams, who says the Trump support was really an anti-Clinton/Obama vote. And it also came from a darker, less positive place than many GOPs will say publically, as Pollina said the locals had an impression others were being helped by government, while they were being ignored.
"They thought that somebody else was getting something they should get," Pollina said.

Asked who "somebody else" refers to, Pollina said: "Minorities, mostly."

Still, Pollina said many local people voted for Obama in past years, hoping he would shake things up.

"They waited for all this change from Obama and it didn't materialize," Pollina said. "The change didn't come to them."
That really rings true. These people want their lives to be better, and they're more than OK with government being an active partner in doing so, if need be. But all they're seeing on their city-based news deals with concerns and issues that affect urban dwellers. Then add in a sizable amount of race-baiting GOPper-ganda on AM radio and slanted Internet sources which taps into that resentment of a lack of support from corporate America, media, and government. That's how a bunch of poor and working-class people in Central Wisconsin could think a foul-mouthed, low-info real-estate mogul from Manhattan is someone worth taking a chance on as the leader of the free world (TM).

These two articles also indicate how superficial the support for Trump really is with these people. It's based on a fantasy of "Make America Great Again" where somehow their jobs will be restored, their wages raised, their position as a respected and favored part of society will return (especially for non-college white men), and life will be a lot more hopeful with less economic and social stress. It's intellectually lazy, but it is also understandable, because many of these people are working hard and played by the rules, and the last 35 years of trickle-down, pro-corporate governance has screwed them over.

But I'm guessing privatizing Socail Security, Medicare, defunding their public schools and destroying their scenic rural landscapes wasn't what they had in mind. And as that happens over the next 2 years, with things more likely to be worse than better by the time 2018 rolls around, it makes me wonder when the light goes on, and they start to turn their frustrations toward the corporate ALEC puppets in the WisGOP-run Legislature in Madison, and the Koch whore in the Governor's Office.

The Dems better be reminding these voters at every turn for the next 23 1/2 months. And yes, that includes breaking into the information Bubble that exists in rural Wisconsin, and telling people just how GOP policies are failing. These voters are volatile, and the flip towards Trump and the GOP in 2012 could well go to back to a Dem populist in 2018 and 2020. The top-down, corporate and Coastal DNC shuld be ignored when it comes to selling these voters on Dem policies, and exchanged for real Wisconsinites who can relate to these people's real lives.


  1. Just read Milton Mayer's "They Thought They Were Free; The Germans, 1933 - 1945". Here is an interesting explanation from Mayer as to why people voted for and supported Hitler and the Nazis; “National Socialism was a revulsion by my friends against parliamentary politics, parliamentary debate, parliamentary government – against all the higgling and haggling of the parties and the splinter parties, their coalitions, their confusions, and their conniving. It was the final fruit of the common man’s repudiation of “the rascals”. Its motif was, “Throw them all out”. My friends, in the 1920’s, were like spectators at a wrestling match who suspect that beneath all the grunts and the groans, the struggle and the sweat, the match was “fixed”.

    1. What's sad is that they instincts of that mentality isn't wrong- the game is rigged toward the rich and connected, and away from people who wirk actual jobs. Far too many politicians are OK with playing footsie with that slime.

      But Drumpf is the LAST person to change that. In fact, he will increase the corruption and "I don't give a crap about the little guy" mentality on steroids, as we are already seeing with his Cabinet picks. But these small-town dopes think words and poses are more important than actions. So theyll keep losing

  2. Hillary Clinton was fighting an uphill battle in a couple different ways even before Wikileaks, the FBI and the Russians messed around with her.

    As mentioned - slow recovery.
    As mentioned - She's a woman.
    She's a smart and assertive woman. A fair number of men and not a few women really don't like that.
    She's running after a 2 term Democrat.
    25 years of accumulated right wing hate.

    The Republicans ran such am interminable campaign in general and specifically against her. Trump was everywhere in the media, and always attacking. I think that along suppressed the Dem turnout. They just wore some people down.

    Trump ran strong.
    Clinton ran smart.

    Strong won this time even if he is a poser who got intimidated by Megyn Kelly.

    1. I think that is definitely some of plan of the RW slime- to turn so many people off that they don't vote, or don't care to pay attention because it pisses them off so much. That's why the whole "Oh, they're all the same" BS you hear from people who cop out on corruption is so dangerous.

      Wisconsin had 93,000 fewer total votes for president. Combine that with these stirred-up rubes who think you can bully your way into success, and you see the result...if the result is legitimate.

  3. Agreed.

    I don't really expect the result to change. 20k is a big vote shift and could really only happen if a number of people were engaged in things they shouldn't be doing.

    Of course, there seems to have been a lot of people engaged in things they shouldn't have been doing, so I'm all for checking it out.

    I'd argue that maybe 5% of precincts should be hand-count audited for every election, and no machine that can't be hand-count audited should be part of our election setup. Election security is about a lot more than photo ID.

    That should be a part of the next Democratic campaign.