David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Jul. 28, 2019 2 min read

The deepest foundational rule in US politics, so deeply rooted that it's practically invisible, is that rural & suburban whites -- "real Americans" -- must be held innocent. All political discussion is shaped around it.

When it comes to anything bad -- what they say, the people they elect, their land use decisions, their economies, their social pathologies (opioid addiction, etc.) -- they must be the victims, driven to it by nefarious urban elites. They are never responsible, never at fault.

Racism must be economic anxiety. Support for caging immigrant children must be because of NAFTA. Enthusiastic consumption of lies from RW media, enthusiastic support of politicians who inflame xenophobia & serve oligarchs ... all someone else's fault.

Because we all know rural life is beautiful open landscapes & good-hearted neighbors helping one another with barn raisings & anyone who dares suggest otherwise is Why Trump Won. (Note: the entire Why Trump Won trope is *premised* on excusing Trump voters from responsibility.)

There is no commensurate rule protecting urbanites. Crude, racist anti-urban stereotypes are just fine. (See: Trump's latest tweets, their many defenders, or just, my TL.) Indeed, contempt for urbanism is a mark of virtue, of connection to the Purity of rural life.

Unlike rural whites, who are victims of everything, urban problems are always directly the fault of their (coincidentally, Dem!) corrupt leaders & morally suspect citizens. Hostility to cities among (rural-dominated) state governments is ubiquitous.

Perversely, even Dems have absorbed these foundational myths. NO ONE polices liberal dialogue about rural areas more vigorously than other Dems, trained over decades to be in a permanent defensive crouch against to RW attacks & stereotypes. (Again, see: my TL.)

Consequently, if Obama says at a private fundraiser that these folks are "clinging to guns & religion" -- a manifestly & obviously true observation -- it dominates headlines for months, practically defines the campaign. Same thing with "deplorables."

Those comments dominate political headlines. Meanwhile, not a day goes by that a conservative doesn't express utter contempt for cities & city-dwellers, indulging in grossly racist stereotypes, with no comment from anyone. Just routine background noise.

The irony here -- one among many -- is that the policies Dems support (eg Medicaid expansion) would help rural whites, while the GOP has been exploiting & abusing them for decades, sucking value out of their land & leaving ruined economies behind.

No one has more *true* contempt for rural whites than GOP elites (who live in cities or suburbs, btw). They invoke myths of rural virtue for political cover & inflame rural xenophobia & resentment to keep attention off their plutocratic policies. They do more tangible damage ...

... to rural whites than alleged "liberal condescension" ever has. But everyone is so ensconced in these stupid myths that they perpetually get away with it. Tariffs that fck rural industries, tax cuts that shift money to the wealthy, endless cuts to the social safety net ...

... all that is fine, apparently. But dare to suggest that repeated expressions of racism indicate the presence of racists and you, not the oligarchs, will be denounced for elitism. It's an absurd fucking racket & I'm sick of it. That is all. </fin>

You can follow @drvox.


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