I’m very happy to have landed out west — I love the landscapes, the culture, I just love the whole vibe — but I’m originally from the Midwest, and this makes me more than a little suspicious when I read articles that slam the Red States. I don’t disagree with most of the points made in this article, even though it’s harsh, and I even agree with the author’s basic premise that too much is being made of trying to “understand” the swing state Trump voter, as if Trump won and the Democrats lost at (literally) every level simply because they didn’t have better Red State focus groups.
To understand rural white Christian conservatives is to understand that their perspective is non-negotiable. The author gets this right. It’s the fundamentalist strain of evangelical Christianity — there are certain things you just believe, certain things you don’t question. And more to the point: there are evil enemies (liberals and leftists, atheists and secularists) against which one must be hyper vigilant. A liberal or secular perspective (and the facts they cite) can be safely dismissed without serious consideration because their point of view (and the state of their soul) is fundamentally and fatally flawed.
While it’s not quite true (as the article suggests) that those in the religious Heartland will never change, it is true that change comes slow, so slow in fact that I can understand giving up hope. I gave up. Many of us who are originally from the heartland have moved away, either literally moving out of state or else moving ideologically, religiously, or spiritually. The author gets this too.
They see the speck in their brother’s eye but fail to see the plank in their own.
The red states are intractable. That’s kind of where the article leaves us — and yeah that’s true, but it’s not the biggest problem. Our crisis is a crisis of leadership. It’s the fact that we have no leaders on the left, no vision, no integrity. And on this point, there’s a pretty intense hypocrisy that often lies just beneath the surface in articles like these. I find that liberals who make the most noise these days railing against the heartland are typically those who have nothing to say about the corruption within the Democratic Party. They see the speck in their Red State brother’s eye but fail to see the plank in their own.
Liberal politicians have nothing to offer Red State voters
For example, in a world where every other developed nation has socialized healthcare — some sort of setup to ensure that all of their citizens have access to basic healthcare — Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have succeeded in frustrating California’s effort to lead the nation in providing healthcare for all. So, in a nation where Red State Americans suffer from high healthcare costs and terrible insurance coverage, liberal politicians are more interested in protecting their big money donors in the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry than they are in providing a real economic benefit that would extend to the rural religious voter.
To simply say that rural religious voters are intractable misses a critical point. Liberal politicians have nothing to offer Red State voters. Democrats have nothing to offer the heartland. They’re just as compromised as Republicans, they are too beholden to big money and corporate lobbyists to bring about the kind of deep reforms and policy changes that we desperately need, changes that would provide real and quantifiable benefits to Christian white America. There’s no reason for swing states to swing left.