By now you would think that “rural America” (aka conservatives) would learn that they’re almost always on the wrong side of history. Sure, Republicans were once the party of Abraham Lincoln while Democrats were the ones who founded the Ku Klux Klan, but the parties basically switched ideological places during the 50’s and 60’s as a result of the “Southern strategy.”
During the mid-60’s as Democrats fully embraced equality for African Americans, infamous segregationists such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurman left the party to become Republicans. It wasn’t because they stopped believing in racism or segregation — its’s because the Democratic party had stopped believing in it and promoting it.
So they joined the political organization that was fully embracing that white resentment being left behind by Democrats: The Grand Old Party.
No matter which political party they’ve aligned with over the past century and a half, it’s conservative Americans (typically white, rural ones) who’ve always been on the wrong side of key historical events and issues.
States like South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana — places where “states’ rights” conservatives have thrived since the days of slavery — these are the states that:
- Supported slavery.
- Opposed women’s suffrage.
- Were pro-segregation.
- Fought against the Voting Rights Act.
- Opposed ending bans on interracial marriage.
- Think Roe v. Wade should be overturned, ending abortion rights for every woman in the country.
- Fought against ending bans on same-sex marriage.
The list goes on and on.
From the 1860’s all the way through today, generation after generation, these parts of our country — rural white conservative America — have always been on the wrong side of history.
That’s why it makes perfect sense that rural white conservative America is where someone like Donald Trump performed best, generating the most enthusiasm and excitement among supporters.
It’s also not shocking that the candidate who excited rural white conservative America to levels not seen in decades is also the same candidate who singlehandedly energized white nationalism to levels not seen since the days of segregation and the battle for civil rights. Obviously, it’s rural white conservative America where the racism and bigotry that fuels neo-Nazis and the KKK thrives.
Now I’m not saying all of rural white conservative America is awful. As someone who was born in Texas and has lived in the state my entire life, many folks living in out in rural areas (or the “country,” as it’s most commonly referred to as) are amazing people.
Being from a rural white conservative part of America doesn’t necessarily mean that someone supports bigotry, racism, prejudice or hate. I’m also not saying that racism isn’t found within our inner cities, too. It most certainly is.
That being said, if you’re a rational person, the pattern of “rural white conservative America” being on the wrong side of history is nearly as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. It’s not a coincidence that states which formed the Confederacy; opposed the right for women to vote; supported segregation; stood against the Voting Rights Act; and fought to keep bans on interracial marriage legal are, today, some of the most “red/conservative/Republican” states in the country.
It’s rural white conservative America that’s always the most angry, paranoid, bigoted, fearful and hateful. The people who always feel like their “country is being taken away from them” or that “people should go back where they come from.” It’s the people who often long for the “good old days,” typically saying that they feel “American values are under attack.”
When you sift through all that nonsense, what it really translates to is a bunch of white people who don’t like minorities, non-Christians, women and homosexuals having the same rights and opportunities as they’ve had since this country was founded. When they say they want to “make America great again” or they’re “going to take their country back,” that’s just code for “we want the country to be like it was when straight, white Christians ruled everything and everyone else was treated like second-class citizens.”
When all is said and done, the bottom line is this: At many of the most pivotal moments in our nation’s history, there’s been one demographic of people who’ve always stood in the way of progress and have found themselves on the side of history we ultimately look back on with shame and disgust — and that demographic is rural white conservative America.
These are the very same people who comprise the most devout section of conservative voters and who most enthusiastically supported Donald Trump.