Yale Law Grad Speaks For His People - the Poor White Men and Women of Appalachia

There is an interesting interview in The American Conservative, which is actually often a thoughtful magazine considering that it identifies itself as a "Print magazine launched by Patrick Buchanan featuring Old Right themes and critical of neoconservatism." "Old Right" to me is much better than the ultra-right ideology which was taking over the Republican Party when Trump upset their effort by his hostile takeover, but maybe that's just because it is the ideology on which I was raised. The interview is of Yale Law School graduate J. D. Vance. The link to the interview of Vance by conservative writer, Rod Dreher, is here: 

Trump: Tribune of Poor White People

Having grown up on the borderline of poor as the son of a black sheep in an extended family that itself went from middle to upper middle class (leaving the black sheep's family behind), and having gone on to Yale knowing nothing at all about the college experience or the upper class, and also having lived in the South for almost thirty years, mostly in a rural setting, I have seen what this article talks about and much of it has the ring of truth to medescriptively. 

It appears to me to be a learning disability that Trump exhibitsin much the same way my father didthat explains a lot of his speaking style and the flaws in understanding sophisticated linguistic technique and gives him the ability to appeal to the poor white people, but there is a major difference between them and him, because he was born into money, but not into the upper class. There is a quote attributed to Scott Fitzgerald's answer to Ernest Hemingway, but actually it was said by Irish literary critic and author Mary Colum. It went like this: 

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.

Of course it is true that a major difference often is their wealth.  However, an upper class upbringing also very often makes a difference, but it's a different difference. 

What the base supporters Trump appeals to don't understand is that he's offering them almost nothing of substance in solutions, and he's defrauded them of their votes. 

The conservative point-of-view is probably a good one from which to start to discuss this population, but if you are looking for a solution from this perspective and from conservatives, there is still none, even as they point out the problem of there not being one! As it did to Vance, it drove me crazy to hear the right-wing ideologues in the Republican primary saying with a straight face that they feel the pain of the nouveau pauve, as an old friend of mine used to call herself, and go right on to how their tax breaks for the rich would solve it! 

Although Hillary Clinton and her party seem to be more acquainted with the problems of poor urban black people, they must also address the problems discussed here, and that will be difficult and it will cost money. The ignorance about this social class will add to the difficulty, as the article says, but the solution will never come from the right, since also being an almost life-long conservative who is now very liberal on domestic issues, I have observed that the dogmatic "politically correct" conservative ideologues refuse to acknowledge that there even are social problems requiring societal solutions. 

As the book's author says, one problem certainly is finding jobs for them, since as in Bruce Springsteen’s words in "My Hometown,"

They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back.

However, we should remember that those mill/factory/foundry jobs were no prize. For years I worked with "hillbilly" United van operators from the foothills of North Carolina and Tennessee who found their way into an elite group of independent contractors in which they performed illegal miracles and broke every rule in the book to make fortunes. They were talented, determined, and perhaps even ruthless. As one of them told me once,  "Cal, I would kill or die or do anything you could imagine to get out of the mills." This exemplified to me what they came from but they were an elite. 

So many others went from boring and degrading jobs which they survived on to the hopelessness of no jobs at all and no future in sight. These are the people whom Vance describes as "my people," not the elite, but the hopeless, the ones with the culture of single moms and 15 "stepdads," no family structure and time spent in foster care or perhaps at best farmed out to relatives. The ones who are now famously killing themselves with heroin or the even shorter route. He describes how his father's life was turned around by fundamentalist religion, in a manner similar to how his own was turned around by service in the Marine Corps, where he even learned personal habits and skills, like how to go about buying a car! 

Having no jobs, nothing to validate their existence with, is the worst that could have happened to them. It is a serious problem that no one can even know what to train them forour society of Greed, with so much power in the hands of corporate moguls who do not even have a stake in any community, where manufacturing is moved to the site of cheapest labor worldwide without restriction, gives them all the flexibility and those who wish to plan for jobs in the community with no ability to even predict...anything. 

All Vance has to offer is that we need to give credit to some of his people who may have an innate ability and desire to improve their own lives, and of course that's true. What it reminds me of is Ben Carson's solution to poverty in the ghettovolunteer groups of mentors to work with the young boys and girls who have special talent. But what about the rest of them? 

We need a new paradigm for solving social problems that roughly half of our leaders don't agree even exist as a matter of principle. When that half claims the policies of our current Chief Executive are responsible for the state of the poor and the middle class whose incomes have plummeted, what they are missing, intentionally or not, is that for decades the underlying philosophy of government has been to empower corporations to act as engines for profit...and, incidentally, jobs. But the advantages we have handed corporations are so immense, and have directed so much income to the wealthy owners, that we have taken away the power of the State to work effectively on solutions. This is what we have to do: we have to turn this ship around. That was a difficult task when President Obama was elected, and it will be a difficult task for the next President, too.