Friday, December 29, 2017

Can The Democrats Win Back The Bernie Supporters Who Wanted Change And Then Voted For Trump?


On primary day in Elliott County, KY, Bernie beat all 4 of these phonies combined

In 2012 Kentucky went overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney— 1,087,127 (61%) to 679,340 (38%). And of Kentucky’s 120 counties, only 4 voted for Obama, the state’s only two big urban ones, Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington) plus Franklin county (home of Frankfort, the state capital) and tiny, impoverished Elliott County in the Appalachians. It’s a dry county— no alcohol is sold in Sandy Hook or anywhere else in the county— but who needs booze when the county is flooded with prescription opioids. But until last year it was unlike any other county in The South. Elliott County had voted for the Democratic Party's nominee in every presidential election since it was formed in 1869— the longest streak of any county voting Democratic in the county— until it went for Señor Trumpanzee 70-26%. Yep, Elliott was the last Southern rural county to have never voted for a Republican ’til it met Trump. Look at it like this— it was the second whitest county in America (99.04%) to have voted for Obama (2008). Obama beat McCain there 61-36%— Obama’s highest score in any Kentucky county. It had also been Kerry’s strongest county in the state. By 2012 the tide was changing and Elliott County gave Obama a narrow win again Romney— 49-47% (a bare 60 vote margin).

Last year was a landslide for Trump— 70.1% to 25.9%. What happened? It was Hillary. The openly gay Senate candidate, Jim Gray (D), beat Rand Paul (R) in Elliott County pretty thoroughly— 1,477 (56.07%) to 1,157 (43.93%), a solid. There are 5,214 registered voters countywide, and just 429 are Republicans. These people were desperate for change. The per capita income for the county is $12,067. About 20.80% of families and 25.90% of the population are living below the poverty line. Hillary didn’t seem like a credible agent of change. Bernie did though. He beat Hillary on primary day— 443 (52.6%) to 301 (35.7%). But Bernie didn’t just beat Hillary. There were 4 Republican candidates who got votes that day. Trump lead with 17 votes, followed by Cruz (15 votes), Kasich (4 votes) and Rubio (3), so a total Republican primary vote of 39 votes… to Bernie’s 443. Yeah, they wanted change. McConnell has never won a race there.

On Wednesday the Associated Press ran a dispatch by Claire Galofaro from Sandy Hook, the county seat, In the heart of Trump Country, his base’s faith is unshaken.
The regulars amble in before dawn and claim their usual table, the one next to an old box television playing the news on mute.

Steven Whitt fires up the coffee pot and flips on the fluorescent sign in the window of the Frosty Freeze, his diner that looks and sounds and smells about the same as it did when it opened a half-century ago. Coffee is 50 cents a cup, refills 25 cents. The pot sits on the counter, and payment is based on the honor system.

People like it that way, he thinks. It reminds them of a time before the world seemed to stray away from them, when coal was king and the values of the nation seemed the same as the values here, in God’s Country, in this small county isolated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Everyone in town comes to his diner for nostalgia and homestyle cooking. And, recently, news reporters come from all over the world to puzzle over politics— because Elliott County, a blue-collar union stronghold, voted for the Democrat in each and every presidential election for its 147-year existence.

Until Donald Trump came along and promised to wind back the clock.

“He was the hope we were all waiting on, the guy riding up on the white horse. There was a new energy about everybody here,” says Whitt.

“I still see it.”

Despite the president’s dismal approval ratings and lethargic legislative achievements, he remains profoundly popular here in these mountains, a region so badly battered by the collapse of the coal industry it became the symbolic heart of Trump’s white working-class base.

The frenetic churn of the national news, the ceaseless Twitter taunts, the daily declarations of outrage scroll soundlessly across the bottom of the diner’s television screen, rarely registering. When they do, Trump doesn’t shoulder the blame— because the allegiance of those here is as emotional as it is economic.

It means God, guns, patriotism, saying “Merry Christmas” and not Happy Holidays. It means validation of their indignation about a changing nation: gay marriage and immigration and factories moving overseas. It means tearing down the political system that neglected them again and again in favor of the big cities that feel a world away.

On those counts, they believe Trump has delivered, even if his promised blue-collar renaissance has not yet materialized. He’s punching at all the people who let them down for so long— the presidential embodiment of their own discontent.

“He’s already done enough to get my vote again, without a doubt, no question,” Wes Lewis, a retired pipefitter and one of Whitt’s regulars, declares as he deals the day’s first hand of cards.

He thinks the mines and the factories will soon roar back to life, and if they don’t, he believes they would have if Democrats and Republicans and the media— all “crooked as a barrel of fishhooks”— had gotten out of the way. What Lewis has now that he didn’t have before Trump is a belief that his president is pulling for people like him.

“One thing I hear in here a lot is that nobody’s gonna push him into a corner,” says Whitt, 35. “He’s a fighter. I think they like the bluntness of it.”

He plops down at an empty table next to the card game, drops a stack of mail onto his lap and begins flipping through the envelopes.

“Bill, bill, bill,” he reports to his wife, Chesla, who has arrived to relieve him at the restaurant they run together. He needs to run home and change out of his Frosty Freeze uniform, the first of several work ensembles he wears each day, and put on his second, a suit and tie. He also owns a local funeral home and he’s the county coroner, elected as a Democrat.

…Lewis, a registered Democrat, trusts Trump because he trusts his values. And because of that, he trusts Trump’s other promises— so strongly he can’t think of anything that would shake that faith in him. If the factories and mines don’t come back, he’ll blame the opposition. If there isn’t a wall on the Mexico border, he says, it won’t be because Trump didn’t try. If investigators find his campaign colluded with Russians, it’s because so many people are so determined to bring him down.

He watches all the news stations, he says, toggling back and forth as he performs his own calculations to figure out what he wants to believe. He almost always sides with Fox News and anchors who dismiss allegations of Russian collusion as a “witch hunt” and tout the president’s declarations of accomplishments. The people against Trump are, by extension, against people like him, too, Lewis figures.

“They don’t care if we starve to death out here, because they don’t care the first thing about anybody other than their pockets being full,” he believes. “Donald Trump doesn’t care about that because Donald Trump’s pockets are already full. That’s the reason I’ve stuck with him.”
I guess he’s never learned that the richer someone is, the greedier and more driven by avarice they are. That’s part of Trump’s con— part of the con Lewis has fallen for. Gwenda Johnson, a retiree doesn’t seem to have fallen for it though. She “acknowledges one painful and irrevocable change in the region: Coal will never be what it once was, no matter what promises Trump makes to turn back time. Appalachia should be looking for a new path, she says, not the old one. She rattles off all the things the community stands to lose under this administration: The region relies on programs like the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration that provide federal money for job-training, anti-poverty efforts and beautification initiatives aimed at transitioning to a tourism economy. Trump proposed a budget that wipes out those programs. Many depend on food stamps, disability coverage and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act— all of which could be upended. ’I fear that when they finally realize that Donald Trump is not the savior they thought he was— if they ever come to that realization— the morale in these rural areas will be so low that they will not ever put faith in anyone again,’ she says.” And she’s not the only one who fell for the con.
“I damn sure didn’t vote for Trump. I’d rather walk through hell wearing gasoline britches,” barks Terry Stinson, a retired construction worker. He has come to the Frosty Freeze almost every evening for dinner since his wife died.

He can barely bring himself to watch the news because it makes him mad, and he howls with laughter at the idea that the Republican tax cuts to corporations will eventually help the little guys. The country has been sold trickle-down economics before, he says, “And it’s never trickled down to Sandy Hook. Why would it this time?”
It will be interesting to see if Elliott County sticks with Trump again in 2020… but only if the alternative in Bernie. If it’s some establishment shill like Biden or McAuliffe or Gillibrand, Trump’s got the county— and hundreds like it— hands down.

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At 3:59 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

"It will be interesting to see if Elliott County sticks with Trump again in 2020… but only if the alternative in Bernie. If it’s some establishment shill like Biden or McAuliffe or Gillibrand, Trump’s got the county— and hundreds like it— hands down".

Nailed it in a nutshell.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DINO-Whigs want college-educated professionals. Just how many Bernie Bros who ended up voting for Trump qualify for that description? If the Party wanted them at the time, they might have tried to win them over. But since most of the Trump-voting Sandernistas are blue collar types, there was no effort to win their support at all. Not enough money to interest HER! staff even though Bernie did pretty well with small donations.

At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone hated the democraps enough to vote for trump, they won't be enamored with whomever the democraps come up with in 2020. It won't be Bernie. The democraps' money won't allow it.

All sane voters who hated $hillbillary did NOT vote for trump. They either didn't vote or voted for Jill Stein or someone else.


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