It's the Economy, Stupid: Why the Heartland Voted Trump

Nov 16, 2016

J.B. Akers says he wrote his essay in reaction to simplistic assumptions about Trump voters

Why did so much of middle America vote Trump? J.B. Akers says it’s too simple to write it off to racism and misogyny.

Akers is a West Virginia lawyer whose blog post on the Trump election went viral. It’s called, “Trump Won and I Don't Understand Why You Don't Understand.”

Akers said he was motivated to write the essay after reading the reaction of his more cosmopolitan friends on social media.

People here are not stupid, he argues. Nor do they condone everything Trump said during the campaign.

“People want something different from what they have now. And if they have to ignore terrible rhetoric to get it, apparently they were willing to do so,” Akers said.

“There’s a feeling here that we’ve been essentially colonized, by industry and their own government. And people don’t like it.”

He argues that West Virginians are not, by and large, sexist:

“In January 2017 three out of our five State Supreme Court Justices will be women.  We will vote for women to lead us.  Our most popular State politician is a female Senator.  However, our women are dying younger than yours and, frankly, no one outside of where we live seems to care.”

“As a general rule, large urban voters have seen their lives get better the past eight years.  That may not mean you personally, but it's true for most.  Urban voters have more jobs and more money.  They either ignored or don't care that most of the rest of the country did not share in this turnaround.

“Do you believe Hillary Clinton's loss is partly or wholly grounded in rural misogyny?  If so let me ask you this - does it matter to you that in the places where Trump won women's life expectancies have decreased since 1987?  This is also generally true for large areas of the Appalachian population, male or female.

“In urban America you are building new shopping malls.  Where I live people are dying younger than their parents.”

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