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The truth about ‘white rural rage’ Progressives have run out of empathy

'With stereotypes of rage come stereotypes of irrationality.' (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

'With stereotypes of rage come stereotypes of irrationality.' (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


April 9, 2024   4 mins

A good American progressive is meant to disapprove of disparaging political stereotypes. But that hasn’t stopped them gleefully embracing the caricature of the enraged rural American. You know the tropes; they’re the last ones you can utter in respectable conversation: “white trash”, “redneck”, “hillbilly”, all them ignorant belligerents in stark raving anger ready to storm the Capitol.

Just last month, academic Thomas Schaller, co-author of the erroneous book, White Rural Rage, stoked this prejudice on MSNBC: “[Rural voters] are the most racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-gay geo-demographic group in the country… They are the most likely to excuse or justify violence as an acceptable alternative to peaceful public discourse.” He was trending on X in no time. But his ideas aren’t exactly new: after the 2016 election, Frank Rich published an essay titled “No sympathy for the Hillbilly” in New York magazine, while the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman regularly churns out op-eds on rural rage.

As two scholars of rural politics, who have spent the past three years pouring over thousands of survey interviews with rural Americans, this caricature of the rural rabble-rouser is deeply puzzling. Instead of threats to democracy, or rebellious politics, or reflexive anger, we keep finding something different: pride in rural living, a sense of communal belonging, a shared fate that intertwines the economic well-being of rich and poor in rural communities. Yes, there are resentments, especially towards government officials and experts. But resentment is not a stereotype. It’s a motivation, a story.

Still, rageful stereotypes sell better than complex backstories. And they’re easier for our political and media ecosystems to make sense of. Reference some data point about QAnon conspiracies in the heartlands, and you’ll raise more money from nervous liberals in the city (who just so happen to live next to three times as many conspiracy believers). Lash out against the xenophobia in small towns, and you’ll mobilise your city voters to the polls. Rage draws clicks. It makes a splash.

However, unlike rage, which is explosive and directed towards immediate targets, scholars have shown that resentment in rural areas emanates from a sense of enduring injustice and marginalisation. It is not primarily about anger towards specific groups such as black Americans, immigrants, or LGBT individuals. Instead, resentment or grievance is a deeper, more persistent feeling that arises from real and perceived slights against rural communities. These include economic policies that have devastated local industries, a lack of investment in rural infrastructure and education, and a sense of cultural dismissal from urban-centric media and politics.

Such failures help to explain the deep-rooted scepticism in many rural areas towards government policy solutions. Just consider the aftermath of the North American Free Trade Agreement, implemented in 1994. Nafta’s champions, including both Democrats and Republicans, promised that the deal would bring prosperity to small farmers, but between 1998 and 2018, one out of every 10 small US farms disappeared. Not long after the trade barriers were removed, Canadian cattle ranchers flooded the American market with beef and prices plummeted, forcing small farms out of business. Meanwhile, large-scale agribusinesses capitalised on the open borders. If government neglect drove your grandpa off his farm back then, why would you trust it now?

Yet the stereotype of the raging rural American misrepresents these complexities of the rural experience. It is why Hollywood fell for J.D. Vance’s story of Appalachian poverty, while failing to recognise that he was running a political campaign that spoke to the resilience, values and pride of rural residents. And it is why most progressives don’t have much empathy left for rural voters — despite feeling deeply for nearly every other marginalised group in American society.

“Progressives don’t have much empathy left for rural voters.”

In some circles, this lack of empathy stems from the fact that these so-called “deplorables” are blamed for having brought Trump to power. As Paul Waldman, the second co-author of White Rural Rage, said on his book tour: “If Donald Trump gets back to the Oval Office, it will be because — once again — rural Whites put him there.” But rural America is not responsible for Trump. If simply voting for Trump makes you “enraged”, then the residents of cities and suburbs, from which Trump derived 80% of his total votes in 2020, are downright furious. Pinning Trump’s gains on decades of rural America’s losses is just another form of confirmation bias — reinforcing existing beliefs without critical examination. Rarely do you hear mentions of figures such as Bill Clinton, who championed Nafta, or Hillary, who seemed to openly celebrate the fact that she lost the places that were economically suffering the most.

With stereotypes of rage come stereotypes of irrationality. But rural folk have good reason to partly blame Democrats, experts and college professors for their misfortunes. They know full well that federal agriculture and trade policies pushed by both Democrats and Republicans did destroy rural economies. And that liberal elites stood by as rural students became one of the least likely groups to attend college, and one of the most likely to drop out. Surely, the drive for diversity and inclusion should include rural kids, too?

We’ve also noticed that city dwellers have a tendency to use stereotypes as a crutch to disguise the fact that they know very little about how different people live their lives. Both rural and urban people see the “other” as having different values. Many of these differences are overblown, but some of them are, undoubtedly, true. We see it in our own lives: as college professors who choose to live in the countryside, our colleagues playfully say we’ve “gone native”, and our neighbours think we’re squirrelly. We love both worlds and the people within them, even when they value different things. But stereotypes, generalisations, tropes and unchecked hyperbole foreclose the possibility of closing this divide.

In order to genuinely heal societal rifts and to find common ground, we have to dispel the myths of blind rage, and see instead a common desire for recognition. And yet, it appears that progressive commitments to multiculturalism and pluralism only extend to groups that vote the “right” way. It’s almost as if they haven’t learnt their lesson: as long as rural America is treated with disdain, should we really be surprised when, once again, it reluctantly turns to Trump?


Nicholas F. Jacobs is an Assistant Professor of Government at Colby College. Daniel M. Shea is a Professor of Government at Colby College. Their latest book is The Rural Voter.


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Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 month ago

Rural towns may seem less diverse than big cities but people mix more widely, even socialising and interacting with “squirly” professors, as there aren’t enough numbers to form sizable discrete tribes or ghettoes. It’s the city people who are blinkered.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

To buttress your point, I have never heard a rural person say “don’t go to THAT part of town” with anywhere near the frequency that one hears this warning in large cities.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
1 month ago

Is it any wonder people resent being resented so much?

I find the more people crow on and on about how much empathy and compassion they have, the more likely it is that they have almost none at all.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

It’s the same lack of self-awareness that leads them to misunderstand the Trump phenomenon.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Yes I worked for a time in a pretty progressive organisation, lots of staff who would on impulse view a social conservative like me as either stupid or malignant. I remeber them going on and on about how they ‘couldn’t understand’ how the US could vote for Trump. Rather than seeing this as an impetus to find out why it might have happened, they saw their inability to understand as a condemnation of Trump voters – rather than a failure of their own intellect or imagination.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

A question I’ve always asked but never gotten an answer to: Do you have any explanation for the fact: “If Trump is so bad, why do people vote for him?”
I admit, since all I was receiving in response was splashes of saliva on the screen, I can rightfully classify the respondents as mentally disabled.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

I think you’re over-egging it. As a former post-Soviet resident you’ll know that some people shed tears when Stalin died, Hitler got a lot of German votes, etc. So bad people do get votes and/or support, the question is why. Btw I’m not saying that Trump is like Stalin/Hitler, those kind of comparisons are always simplistic at best. Myself, I don’t think Trump is a great person but it takes someone like him to stand against the modern consensus, I also think that you need to judge more by actions/results than by words/intentions. Also saying your political enemies are mentally ill is a totalitarian tactic (yes, often used by Trump’s political enemies but not all of them; though wokester types are captured by a set of ideological theories almost by definition). If we want to be distinct from ideologically-captured ppl we can’t adopt their methods. I know it’s horrible trying to deal with ppl who can’t take you in good faith, the result will always be relationship/communication breakdown.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

Also saying your political enemies are mentally ill is a totalitarian tactic
.
You want to be objective, but you underestimate the point that it is progressives everywhere who use totalitarian tactics for obvious reasons – none of their thesis stands up to the test of common sense. I want to emphasize – none. They are totalitarians, fanatics with misanthropic beliefs. Such people breed in abundance in troubled times, poisoning the whole nations.
I’m not only a former post-Soviet resident, I’m also a STEM scientist by mind, education and degree

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

Yes I agree that modern progressives tend towards totalitarian methods. Doesn’t negate the point that saying your political enemies are mentally ill (then ‘treating’ them) is a well-used totalitarian tactic to shut down dissent, and we should avoid hypocrisy. I’m a construction worker and business owner, as you well know being a STEM scientist doesn’t necessarily make you right.

El Uro
El Uro
29 days ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

a STEM scientist doesn’t necessarily make you right.
Of course, but if you follow the rules in the ring and your opponent always hits you below the belt, you have little chance of winning.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

I quite agree. Another blind spot comes from those who claim to be the most tolerant, but upon closer inspection they actually mean “here’s my list of the things everyone else is required to tolerate”.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

One of the more intriguing statistics from the US is that those on the right donate more blood on average than those on the left. If this is a measure of practical public spirited goodwill – as opposed to rhetorical virtue signalling – it may support your point.

Another interesting statistic is that though, as one might expect, surveys demonstrate that the most politically ignorant tribe in the US is that of Trump supporters who never went to college, running a close second is that if Democrats with two or more degrees. They have a measurably highly distorted understanding of their own country even on basic facts.

Could it be our new puritans tend on average to live in a bubble, preen themselves on their moral superiority to the point that they feel excused basic kindness to their neighbours and feel little pressure to examine either the real word or their own practical individual contribution? Surely not.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Study after study shows that people who lean conservative are far happier than this who lean left. They are concerned about events in the world but don’t feel that they have to go on crusade and are much more accepting of people and life’s challenges in general.

James S.
James S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

And have verifiably lower rates of mental disorders.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago
Reply to  James S.

Liberals / leftists seem to have a corner on ‘neuroticism’ for one…

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

You might possibly be right, but could you cite any?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Love your statistics, the way you think, and the unearthing of this hitherto largely unheard viewpoint, here in UnHerd. Had wondered over the years about the blood donor data. Easy to surmise and no surprise. Another fair surmise might be that significantly fewer conservative blood donors work that fact into their daily conversation, or shout it out through a social media megaphone. “Hey, gave blood today! Just sayin’ … if we all could, what a difference!”

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago

It’s similar to the distinction between the importance of what we say vs what we do – the former is kind of a modern, in that sense progressive value; the latter a traditional hence conservative one.

James S.
James S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

“By their works ye shall know them.”

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Conservatives give more to charity as well.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Similarly, corporates who talk endlessly about ‘values’ are unlikely to be places that have any real values at all.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

They do have compassion, but only for their favoured groups: Muslims, Gazans, gays, blacks and other minorities (excluding Jews, Chinese).

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Are you saying that wapo, nyt and the ivy leagues have no compassion for Jews? As a rural moderate democrat, I find that mystifying.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

Didn’t the three university presidents who testified before Congress make clear the academy’s view toward Jews? Hasn’t a spate of events in which Jewish students are targeted reinforced that what the presidents did was express the campus norm? And WaPo and the NYT have been there to carry their water. Then again, you are among the rarest of political species – the moderate dem. I have no idea where you fit in with today’s party mainstream.

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

What the 3 university president debacle told us is that Jewish power can get heads of universities fired if they dont toe line on Israel.
Do you know what its like living outside coastal Blue states, I wonder? In 2014, 3 Jewish SCOTUS judges gave us Obergefell, then Obama tried to get in a fourth Jewish Justice, Garland. McConnell was widely excoriated for blocking him. Nowhere in democratic press was the extraordinary overrepresentation of Jews on SCOTUS ever mentioned. Trump got in because of this. The evangelicals thought it was a cultural takeover. Not a single protestant voted for Gay marriage. Now it’s gone off the deep end in Biden administration with Rachel Levine imposing the crazy GAC right out of Judith Butler and Ivy league world. Trump is considered a King David figure by evangelicals because he got 3 judges onto SCOTUS. And Trump only got in because Bernie the Socialist drove a truck through the democratic party. Now we look up and see that the Biden administration has got a Jewish homeland security, DNI, AG and secretary of state and they all fucked up SW Border policy and rightly or wrongly went all in for Israel.

And in congress, Schumer is head of Senate. Raskin, Goldman and Schiff were major players in both of Trump impeachments.

Moderate dems are what most minorities in South are it’s what Al Franken and Bill Clinton are, before being metooed off the democratic front page. In past years I got so tired of reading the constant bashing of white people, their religion and pols like Manchin by NYT and Wapo pundits like Rubin, Milbank, Krugman, Marcus, Walden, even Brooks and Klein. There are no longer any democratic media institutions in South or Center. Feels like a takeover. The days of FDR style class politics from the likes of Carter, Clinton, LBJ and even Obama are over. It’s east coast identity politics now. And that is a loser.

No one is allowed to speak freely about Jewish power. So the demography is hidden and all we get is talk of White Christian Nationalism. Do the demography on Jewish versus Black or Hispanic or even White representation in any arena of political power and you will not be able to print it anywhere in democratic press. The gaslighting on this is ever more intense and ridiculous from the perspective of moderate democrats. Until very recently we were the major part of democrats, until the ivy league, NYT Culture War and all the college progressives took over.

I read and admire many Jewish writers, but they don’t talk about Jewish power in America, even if, like Beinart, Goldberg and Finkelstein, they are critical of Israel. We need honesty on this issue because blaming everything on White people has gotten out of hand. Non Jewish Whites are no longer overrepresented anywhere that I can think of outside the republican party.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

Tell me, are you equally disturbed by the power of Catholics? After all, there are six very conservative Catholic judges on the Supreme Court who make their decisions based on their faith rather than the Constitution.

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Sure. That isnt proportionate either. But I come from South Texas where there are alot of Catholics, though Im not sure which how many also count themselves as evangelical. How many Catholics are there in America as compared to Jewish people?
Aren’t you disturbed by disproportionate representation on SCOTUS? Especially when we can’t even talk about it.

B Stern
B Stern
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

There aren’t any evangelical law schools and very few evangelicals that care about being high level lawyers. So while conservative republicans might prefer baptists on the supreme court they choose catholics who went to Harvard, Yale or Notre Dame.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

What you are talking about requires a long and serious discussion. For example, in the earliest punitive agencies of the Soviet government, the percentage of Jews exceeded their percentage in the entire population of the USSR. We can argue that this is not true (although it is true); we can investigate the details of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy (which is no less stupid).
I am not sure that we are now able to show composure on this issue. For the record, I am Israeli and I don’t want for now down vote/upvote your opinion. By the way, according to the latest news from the front of the war with “whiteness” Jews are even more white than WASP

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Carpenter

It’s true that Jews punch well above their weight. Outside of politics look to the proportion of Nobel laureates, professional level employment and you name it. It seems like their success should be a reason for admiration and emulation, not a problem pointing towards some ill-defined conspiracy of “power”. To me your position has the flavor of my elderly maiden aunt’s conviction that JFK’s election would mean rule by the pope. Or the modern version,identity politics.

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Redefining marriage from the bench was a mistake. Should have gone state by state. The reality that 3 out of 5 Obergefell judges were Jewish highlighted a tribal power imbalance that caused the traditional religions to endorse Trump, mostly because he is a known expert at trolling Manhattan elite.
That combined with the genderfluidity campaigns of Judith Butler and Rachel Levine and the NYT. What are we supposed to think?

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s often not real (as opposed to signalled) compassion eg I’m against mass immigration from incompatible cultures, think we should have much much tighter controls, but distinguish this from individual ppl I meet and have helped eg African construction workers with jobs etc., your virtue-signalling progressive is a. often not in a position to offer concrete help b. would want someone else/the govt etc. to take on the responsibility.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

If you have to spend all your time telling people how great you are, you probably aren’t. Contrast with Donald Trump who has been quietly helping people his whole life.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

In the first place, to be a progressive requires an empathy by-pass

c hutchinson
c hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

What an awesome set of comments! I’m a white, rural male and this really captures the rage I feel.

David L
David L
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Leftists see themselves as the master race. The white working classes are untermenshen to them.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 month ago

As someone from rural America, don’t worry the feeling is mutual at this point.

Lawrence Lefsky
Lawrence Lefsky
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

It is interesting, if not definitive, that the people who agree to be interviewed at rallies (and who seem to be most radically aligned with extreme right policies and blindly supportive of TFG) also appear to be representative of this (rural; white) demographic segment.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

Can you cite a source or explain how you arrived at this conclusion? Quantify “most?” Describe what your analysis means for people who are both white and rural?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago

There are loads of educated people who vote Trump who don’t show up at rallies. My Ivy-League pals lean right, but my American-Ecuadorian housekeeper also votes Trump as does my daughter’s American-Trinidadian nanny. We’re out there, all over. The Log Cabin movement (Gay Republicans) is also growing.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I live in a SWFL country club community loaded with Trump supporters, including the large Latino landscape crew.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

Can you explain what these ‘extreme right policies’ are or how people are ‘blindly supportive’ of them? I’m starting to think that this article hit very close to home for you; hence, the need to be snarky. Some of us think castrating children is an extreme policy, yet the people attacking the rural folks say otherwise.

Kat L
Kat L
1 month ago

I don’t know, at this point I just think democrats and liberals are just bad people. So I guess I am a trope but please understand that I no longer give a rats but about what these odious people think.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
1 month ago

I believe “Leftsky” would be more appropriate.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Reminds you of that Tom McDonald line “don’t worry, we’re all ashamed of you too” (different context).

T Bone
T Bone
1 month ago

I was always the most country of my city friends and the most city of my country friends.  Both groups have a fundamental misunderstanding of the other.  I don’t necessarily think city progressives hate rural white people.  They’re just a convenient punch line. The Professorial Ideology of Microaggressions has effectively outlawed even good-natured Comedy against every other cultural group. 

Take accents for example.  Comedies used to regularly imitate different accents.  Here’s the reality…it actually made immigrants more relatable to the traditional audience not less. But no more! You have a few “brave comedies” mostly cartoons like South Park and Family Guy that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of Cultural Correctness. But nearly all Mainstream Comedies are scared of alienating everybody but redneck hillbillies.

To an extent it makes sense especially if it veers into cruelty.  I get that they’re trying not to “punch down.”  But in doing so, the cultural curators have created an Us vs Them Dynamic that is completely unnecessary.  They’ve basically told rural America…”We think you’re dumb.” 

So rural America has rebelled and the Progressive cultural curators have responded by using Minority Groups as a proxy for themselves.  Progressives basically imply that an attack on Progressivism is an attack on Minorities…even though most minorities are equally if not more Conservative than rural people in everything but voting habits. It’s a silencing mechanism.

Comedy is the way out of this and not Cruel Comedy but relatable comedy that recognizes the stupidity of Identity Politics.

Lawrence Lefsky
Lawrence Lefsky
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

“…[M]ost minorities are equally if not more Conservative than rural people in everything but voting habits.”
Can you cite a source or explain how you arrived at this conclusion? Quantify “most?” Describe what your analysis means for people who are both minorities and rural?
I’m not sure that being the most city country person a handful of people know qualifies you to speak on behalf of the pontiff.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Just do the research – many minorities are very socially conservative eg Muslims, Hindus, Chinese – all Asians in fact.

Kat L
Kat L
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It depends on which generation arrived. First gens keep their values, their descendants are a different matter.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Kat L

I’m not sure. Last year I taught 3rd and 4th generation muslims. Although more Western in their attire than their elders, they are still staunchly muslim; I would even go on to say that they are even more fiery than their parents. Unlike in most Western countries, they are encouraged to be fiercely proud of their culture and religion. If I’m honest, I think they see us as rather weak and limp-wristed in comparison.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

Firstly, cut out the woke sealioning. Secondly, please explain what makes you think that “progressives” speak for minorities.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago

I’m in UK,it’s true.

Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
1 month ago

Read Ruy Teixeira.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

Why not Cruel Comedy? These are not people over-endowed with self-awareness. If it takes the brutality of Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes to puncture their self-congratulatory complacency then bring it on.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Amen.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

God, I love Ricky Gervais!

T Bone
T Bone
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I see your point. Although, I would consider that speech more condescending than “cruel.”

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

Long live the ‘Babylon Bee’, the satiric conservative comedy site!

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  T Bone

In the UK most migrants once or if they get a bit established and comfortable go to their natural inclination,Tory. They come here to get on and if they do they want to live a nice life with status markers of success,a house in the posh suburb,a good model of car,and of course gold + silver that is portable wealth as long as someone else doesn’t break in and portable it,that does happen. The ethnic Labour voters are the ones who haven’t made it and still (resentfully) need the patronizing pats on the head from the White Saviour Complex holders.

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago

It’s the smarmy supercilious arrogance that gets my wick. The irony of people who think they always know better, as the rest of us just know from human experience, is this only demonstrates they have weak undeveloped personalities. And that observation is borne out by their tantrummy toddler demands for total control. It can be infuriating at times, but generally, mockery and disdain are better.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

For thirty years we’ve been living through the largest upward transfer of wealth in history. The snobbery and disdain you describe is, I think, a way that those on the receiving end excuse themselves.

Much easier to tell yourself that Brexit voters are stupid and ignorant than to acknowledge that the Single Market was enriching you at their expense and that their resentment is entirely justified.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Not so much ‘White Guilt’ then as ‘Wealth Guilt’.

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Y’know, it’s kind of like the old wealthy like the mid-century capitalist sitting in his chauffeur-driven Roller had more self-awareness of his class position. These people hide it from themselves by believing fantasies like only they can save the poor oppressed black and indigenous people of the world (and making sure everyone knows it); meanwhile their real estate portfolio never looks back, but that’s just incidental of course, nothing to do with any class disparity.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The problem in Britain is not so much that people get rich – but that the wrong people get rich. When the most reliable way to become wealthy is to work for the government and get a mortgage the economy will never flourish. It can only get worse under Labour.

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago

P.S., someone has to say this, although it’s pedantic: you *pore* over documents, not *pour* over them (unless you spill your coffee).

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

,,,AI, AI Captain.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
1 month ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Aye, aye Matey!

Marsha D
Marsha D
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Exactly.

annabel lawson
annabel lawson
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Good on you Ian
Annabel Lawson Canberra (which might as well be rural)

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago
Reply to  annabel lawson

AL, Canberra … rural. True, rural vistas we have, although cbr is also the citadel of the blob. As we saw in results for the Voice referendum.

Simon James
Simon James
1 month ago

What a gigantic, dysfunctional mess. The people who live closest to the land are seen as weirdos by people who live in an entirely built environment.
I demand reparations from the US for the damage done by the exporting of this nonsense. In the UK we have art galleries posting notices next to landscape paintings warning about the dark and dangerous feelings of rootedness and belonging that these images may cause in the viewer.
Corruptio optimi pessima

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

Really? I’m well-aware of the idiotic ‘need’ for some galleries – mainly those funded by the Arts Council – to ‘explain’ to us plebs what we’re looking at, but this is a new one; and a new low, if true.

Can you provide an example, please?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

Many thanks for this.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

“The countryside is racist” nonsense.

The thing is that people who say things like this are well educated idiots who are content to insult others who live outside their circle.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago

And who never go to the countryside.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

They do. They appear at Christmas in red trousers to get a free Christmas beer in a pub they haven’t visited all year.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

They do.Often they move to the countryside and cause chaos and mayhem.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Christ yes, start off by ‘capturing the institutions’ – parish council etc. – so they can start issuing instructions to everyone else. Doesn’t go down well with the locals in Pennine Yorks, constant war between lefty off-come-dens and naturally conservative natives.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

The funny thing is, these credentialed idiots are not educated at all. Their degrees were awarded to them by other ignorant bigots for spouting the accepted tropes, usually in mangled, incomprehensible language, as exposed by Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian, and demonstrated by plagiarist President Claudine Gay.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

I walked out of Leeds City Museum last month, having been brought rapidly to boiling point by the de-colonialist messaging of the main displays, Hip-Hop ‘legacy’ drivel of a special exhibition and a particularly egregious ‘non-binary’ toilet.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Well done. I hope you gave those woke our souls a piece of your mind.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

Really? I had no idea. My doctor has forbidden me to read museum wall text.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon James

Agreed . It is the Cultural Marxism of the middle classes. Orwell said these people despise patriotism, physical courage , British culture and take their politics from Moscow, their cooking from Paris; exhibit shallow self- righteousness and only capable of carping criticism. I also think they are possessed by self hatred.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Well, at least in the self-hatred they show discernment.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago

Progressive empathy is hierarchical and based on simplistically identifiable and packaged group characteristics.

We have a similar dynamic in the UK with former industrial regions, especially in the north: White people are on average more “privileged” than black people. An unemployed teenage boy in the North-East is white. Therefore he is more privileged than, for example, the daughter of anglo-indian GPs in Surrey and can be dismissed as a “chav”.

But these inconsistencies and contradictions are to be expected because the main purpose of progressive empathy is political and cultural leverage. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to position the progressive as “virtuous” and manoeuvre their opponents into a place where they appear to be against kindness, inclusivity etc.

Victor James
Victor James
1 month ago

It doesn’t have to make sense

True, but, it does make sense if you realise the progressive ( far-left) ideology that dominates is based on anti-white hate.
Never ending empathy for non-whites but zero empathy for whites. It couldn’t be clearer. At best, their hatred for whites is a racist belief that all whites are closet Nazis, thus must be kept down. But even that is proof of their hate.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago

What a thoroughly unpleasant and bigoted bunch of people these progressive “bigot hunters” are.
Rural Americans have as much right to their votes, views and values as anyone else.

edmond van ammers
edmond van ammers
1 month ago

Yes, it is interesting. Considering the murder, robbery, assault, and substance use rate in the inner city communities, there must be a lot more rage in those places.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

Time to sneer at another ‘basket of deplorables’?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Or as Hillary Clinton sneered last week, “get over yourselves” and vote for Biden.

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago

The same hypocritical scorn for country folk is prevalent in UK cities amongst the educated elite. In fact I’ve been told that “everyone outside Zone 2 (the wealthy inner suburbs of London) is racist”, which is a bizarre assertion!

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 month ago

Why has ‘progressive’ become a label of hate for, seemingly, the overwhelming majority of commentators herewith? I have always understood, and continue to do so, that ‘progress’, ie change for the better, was a good, positive thing. Is it actually a hatred of change, or maybe just a lazy appropriation of a word which is entirely unsuitable for the context?

Darwin K Godwin
Darwin K Godwin
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Maybe we should call them “conservatives” for ushering us peasants back onto the land, helping us to understand the way the world works, and our proper place in the agrarian utopia they have planned for us. The point is, that the word “progressive” now defines a group of ideologues whose ideology is not progressive.

Ian_S
Ian_S
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Progressive” and it’s corollary “liberal”, were terms coined many decades ago to describe people who wanted to move ahead from supposedly outdated conservative attitudes. Think individualistic hippies versus their parents, the conformist war generation. But progressives have turned. They’ve now become anything but “liberal”, with a histrionic intolerance of anyone who doesn’t conform to their own views. They’ve even turned against formerly vanguard progressives, like women and gays (who are now seen as bigoted far-right reactionaries, unless they toe the gender line). They’ve also become extremely elitist, abandoning the class politics of the earlier generation of progressives. And, in their insistence on tribalist ideas of “anti-racism” and “lived experience”, they’ve abandoned the universalist principles of humanism that motivated earlier progressives. But the animus against the new progressives comes from their elitist arrogance and shrill intolerance for anyone questioning their totalising authoritarian ideology.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Indeed; the idea seen in the film ‘Pride’ that urban alphabeterati would schlep off to Wales with a bucket full of loose change to support a working class struggle is nowadays totally inconceivable .

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Who defines what is “progress” when much of it is malicious change designed to divide people? Why do employees have to have more and more rights to the point it makes our businesses uneconomic so we are forced to buy goods from cheaper countries? Why is success so frowned on in the UK? Why should people be removed from paying tax so that the recipients of “progressive” largesse grow every year?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Because the people who nowadays label themselves progressive are racist antisemitic misogynistic paedophile apologists.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Today’s progressives don’t like progress – they don’t like Jews, they do want segregated dorms, they want windmills for power, they want to forbid fertilizer for growing food etc…

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

‘Progressive’ carries the sense that change is for the better ie that by changing things perfection is eventually achievable. Hence ‘right side of history’, ‘arc of progress’ ‘cultural revolution’ and all the clamour by progressives, disrupting and condemning an imperfect world (while failing to start with themselves). Social conservatives accept that humans and the world are flawed, that things can get worse, and the starting point for improvement is our own imperfect selves.

David L
David L
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Because progressives are hateful self serving snobs.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 month ago

In my experience Rural folk are calm, polite and thoughtful. “Liberal Progressives” are aggressive unpleasant and think narrowly.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

The woke – authoritarian pseudo-progressive pseudo-liberals – are racist antisemitic misogynistic supporters of sadistic paedophilia. They deserve scorn, bile, disdain, contempt, and robustly McCarthyite physicality in our dealings with them.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago

In my experience, growing up, rural folks (my relatives!) were also funnier, used humor more and kidded each other as way to establish connectedness. My ‘educated’ friends are bereft of humor for the most part. They can’t or won’t or are unable to acknowledge the irony in everyday life. They’ve even unjustly booted Woody Allen out of their sphere. And women seem even less likely to use humor than men. Just an observation- they’re too afraid to offend. Joan Rivers R.I.P.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

They’re also phenomenally lazy and whiny, which you don’t find with people who actually work with their hands.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

The reason they allowed rural students to fail at universities is because university professors are one of the most racist groups in our society – racist against pale skins.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 month ago

I would say the POTUS being incapable of speaking in a coherent manner will do more for Trump’s chances than the values and outlook of America’s rural voters. It’s not even as if Biden has a competent and likeable VP who can campaign in his stead. And if Biden does win, how on earth is he going to make it throught the next 4 years?

Travis Cooper
Travis Cooper
1 month ago

The only time the aristocrats, bureaucrats, and intellectuals notice the white rural population is when they want to make fun of someone or they cannot meet their military recruitment goals.

R E P
R E P
1 month ago
Reply to  Travis Cooper

Happening already!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 month ago

The virtue signaling and sense of righteousness and smugness displayed by so-called educated liberal friends is unsettling to say the least. They have no clue and are not open to hearing opposing views. More than anything they lack empathy. It’s hard to find people to talk invite to dinner parties nowadays!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I think it is insecurity. Vast proportion of the left wing middle class do jobs which are irrelevant to civilisation, they neither construct or manufacture and lack the toughness to undertake manual labour in hot or cold temperatures. Being the empty can which makes the noise, in order to feel good, they need to find someone who is bad. One can consider one is morally superior to another person with any proof.

R E P
R E P
1 month ago

I lived on the Upper West Side for 12 years. It was possible to meet people who had never been to ‘fly over country’ or ever met a white working class person. They did see News anchors and people talk about the ‘deplorables’ (Clinton) or ‘bitter clingers’ (Obama) or ‘chumps, dregs, and ultra-Maga (Biden). I also heard someone at a dinner party say that they were cool with Fentanyl killing Trumpers…

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
1 month ago

I too am squirrelly professor. This all rings true in Canada – and was very evident in the representation of the truckers convoy as rural redneck fascist etc (despite all First Nations and POC involved). My colleagues are all about some abstract idea of indigenous virtue- but I have never heard either my colleagues or the students show the slightest bit of interest in the old order Mennonites who live literally 3 miles up the road (and have the lowest carbon footprint of anyone in North America). 80 rural churches burned down after the graves hoax – and never heard it mentioned on campus or on CBC. Farming 100 acre family farm now almost impossible because of rules and regs designed for 10000 acre agri-businesses with any army of lawyers and compliance people

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

Those who take so much pride in their cleverness and caring openly hate and despise those they deem stupid even without ever meeting them.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

Bill Clinton, surely favored by Schaller and Waldman, was born and raised in Arkansas by a floozy bar fly. He, of course, was and remains a scheming lowlife who nonetheless went to Georgetown and Yale where he met and married the woman who would become his partner in crime (smart, that: a wife cannot testify against her husband).

The most racist people appear to be in cities. Mobs in London and Minneapolis screaming their odious Jew hatred, the DEI grifters in higher education decrying “whiteness”, the corporate HR departments refusal to hire, let alone promote white heterosexual men – this is the truth we see every day. Does anyone really take stupid books by propagandists selling an agenda seriously, or is this yet another coin in the nonstop rage machine?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Jesus. Do you blatantly lie all the time? Clinton’s mother was a nurse and not a drunk. Bill’s stepfather was an alcoholic though. No bars were part of young Bill’s life.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 month ago

The truth is if you’re going to have car trouble anywhere, it would be much better to have it happen in the country right now than in any urban core. https://www.wsj.com/articles/down-the-old-dixie-highway-through-the-cradle-of-the-civil-war-road-trip-6aa5a4c6?st=a5iyw973o14tb84&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
1 month ago

It’s fine, the urbanites aren’t yet quite stupid enough to forget who’d win the war, despite how many political battles they might have won so far and how many liberties they have taken… In the end a country cannot be run on wafers and warbling, and the rural people ultimately know they are the source of real food. It’s been this way for a very long time and it’s unlikely to change, we all know history depends on rural outrage and opinion when shit hits the fan. Who’s children won the world wars? Who fed the sick and dying? Who took the pitch forks to the despot Kings of the past?

Honestly this is just straight discrimination and prejudice, rural communities are nowadays literally smaller than nearly every other community. So how can liberals stand around saying they promote minorities when they hate on one of the smallest communities out there and simultaneously rely on these people for food and so much else. These people are ever more ludicrous and deranged, but of course modernity continues to supply in good measure irrelevant overly powerful people who have no wisdom and no grace.

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 month ago

You’re overthinking this. Political groups cater to whomever puts or keeps them in power. I doubt if Trump gives a fig for the rural communities just Clinton who loved to play the Arkansas card, embraced globalisation.
The “country vs the city” rivalry has also gone on for aeons. City folk think of themselves as educated and civilised, country folk self identify as “honest” and loving. But in fact they’re all just individuals making individual choices.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

This is who the left has always been and this is what it has always done. We’ve gone from garden variety racism to white supremacy to Christian nationalism and now, to this alleged rural white rage. There is always an “other” to be scapegoated and scorned by the left, the same left that is so quick to call everyone else Na*#s while engaging in tactics that would make the brown shirts proud.
People in small towns can be insular. The phrase “you ain’t from around here” is practically a cliche, but contrast a rural neighbor with one in a large city. I know my neighbors by name; if one needs something, he’ll knock on the other’s door. That seldom, if ever, happens in big towns where people live in silos, occasionally aware of the folks next door but usually knowing little about them.
The left has no interest in pluralism or actual diversity and it never has. DEI is the rebranding of Jim Crow, with changes in which groups are privileged and which are punished. It’s as if all the civil rights stuff never happened. Non-progressives – whether urban, suburban, or rural – have finally learned that the left hates them. Period.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 month ago

In assigning a cause for the rural, mostly white, rage or resentment, too much emphasis is placed on economics, as opposed to cultural reasons. Well, at least with the better class of rednecks I’m happy to associate with. None of them are hooked on oxy and all of them are comfortable financially.
Many in this group are angry that our civilization has spent the last 50 years self-immolating and devaluing concepts we hold dear. The rest just close their eyes, try to ignore the reality, and hope the wave of anarchy and nihilism doesn’t catch them and theirs.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago

Donald Trump says he will end the so called “war” in the Ukraine district of Russia ie the borderlands,in one day. Why is that bad. He wants to bring peace and stability and that makes him bad and old slavering with dripping blood Biden who wants to fuel the fire with USA tax payers money and ours so say good. Don’t quote the Domino theory at me. That was discredited in 1975 with the fall of Vietnam after thousands of sons,fathers,uncles died. The Trump voters are clear sighted honest people.

Richard Roe
Richard Roe
1 month ago

Occasionally politicians let the truth out. When Hilary Clinton referred to Trump’s supporters as a basket of deplorables, she let the cat out of the bag.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

Until hicks become a protected class like blacks — of which the chances are about zero — the sneering elites will use them as target practice. The former military chief of staff said white nationalism was the greatest threat facing the nation. This is what comes from living in the DC military-industrial complex bubble. Meanwhile, with just under 13% of the population, blacks commit more than 70% if the violent crimes in the country. The legacy media doesn’t report this nor does it run mug shots anymore. It has been decided that is racist.

Peter Samson
Peter Samson
1 month ago

I live in a rural county in central Virginia. I don’t see White rage around me. Many people resent wokeness but they are no angrier than people in cities where I’ve lived. Most distrust government, especially the federal government, but not because of NAFTA or any specific economic harm. Most Trump voters I know, including farmers, are doing reasonable well economically. Lack of a college education is generally not seen as a negative. I’ve asked dozens of high school students if they want to go to college. Only a very small minority wants to get a four-year degree. White rage is a poor descriptor of rural life, but it’s equally wrong to attribute rural attitudes to poor treatment by urban elites. Studying survey data is not enough; you need to have real conversations with people.

Victor James
Victor James
1 month ago

So hate filled minority professors rant about poor whites…

the trick is not to take them seriously, but to focus on their hate and racism.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

Progressivism is a cult. The response to Oct 7 shows they don’t think right.

Marissa M
Marissa M
1 month ago

THIS. This article.
Brilliant. Nailed the rage in America perfectly.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Whilst I agree with much that’s has been said in the article there is an explanation for the rage not really covered. The right to govern relies on ideas of legitimacy which in turn hinges on the concept of fairness. You don’t need a professorship to understand fairness, even animals know what it means – just look how a dog reacts when another dog gets a treat and it doesn’t. The ‘rural whites’ know they’ve been served a dud and they are right. No need to dress it up any other way. Trump in his cany way taps into that. The democracts can dress it up however they like but until they change course they are finished for this group of voters. Oh and the phrase ‘nothing as dangerous as a person who claim the moral right’ also comes to mind.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
1 month ago

By far, the greatest amount of verbal vitriol and violence are coming from from groups like Antifa, BLM and now the pro-Palestine groups. I don’t recall any riots or government or private buildings being burned down in any small rural towns. The left likes to point, over and over again, to the Jan 6 riot and semi-occupation of the capital building, but no one was armed and the place was certainly not burned down. It was a bad scene to be sure, but so far it’s been a one-off. The antifa-BLM riots went on for several years in cities across the country. The violence-score is heavily lopsided toward the urban left.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

America is ready for a very physical civil war but, like the proxy war with Russia, it will remain chilled. The reason why? There are no Ukrainians to fight it for conservatives and liberals.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
1 month ago

I’m a city-dweller, well-educated, lesbian and (until recently) a lifelong Democrat who opposes gender ideology and other tines of the “woke” pitchfork. I’ve lost patience with language progressives use to obscure and/or deform truth, including “undocumented” for illegal, “transwoman” for man, “underprivileged” and “underserved” for poor. These and other terms perpetuate a narrative of helpless victims under the boot of the oppressor (the rest of us), while disregarding personal agency and accountability, if not throwing reality completely out the window (as with gender ideology).
I’m equally weary of an autocratic, censuring mindset that labels inconvenient facts and contrary evidence as racist, transphobic, xenophobic, etc. thereby shutting down constructive conversation. The fact that mainstream media once trusted by Democrats/liberals — think NPR and The New York Times — have been ideologically captured by this same “wokeism”– makes the problem exponentially worse.
Country folks aren’t the only ones who are angry, and progressives (who often seem to me regressive) aren’t the only ones who have run out of empathy.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
1 month ago

“progressive commitments to multiculturalism and pluralism only extend to groups that vote the “right” way”
That way leads to borderless, acultural globalism, solipsistic, narcissistic post humanism.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago

Another perspective is “The politics of resentment” written by a U Wisconsin poli sci prof about 12 Y ago. She went around to many of the “rural coffee councils” where mostly retired guys would sit around and b***h about the gubmint. I know WI – we own a house, we’re going there on Tues. It’s not a state of fire-breathers. But many of the same issues were mentioned in that book – lack of support for rural stuff, all the money going to big cities, teachers are in many small towns the highest paid employee and they get the summers off, etc. It certainly explained a lot for me.