Flyover States

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your State

4 days ago

Last week, President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida hired 70 foreign workers, legally employable through H2-B visas. Trump has been highly critical of companies relocating overseas to cheapen labor costs, and of Obama-era immigration policy he believes were too lenient, but his team justified the move by claiming that “no one else wanted the jobs.” A spokesman for CareerSource, a company that connects businesses seeking employees with those seeking work, disputes that, writing that more than 5,000 Floridians were available to fill the positions. Furthermore, the hotel has faced criticism in the past for making the hiring process for Americans exceedingly difficult—applications from locals had to be sent in by fax, and no phone number or email was advertised. In August, Mar-A-Lago requested permission from the Labor Department to hire foreign workers before it even began advertising in the country.

So much of Trump’s platform rests on the idea that immigration is bad for the country: From the proposal of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he has shown ideological opposition to immigration to be a hallmark of his presidency (though apparently, different rules apply when his companies are involved).

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Heaven Help Us

November 01, 2017

While on the campaign trail in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump spoke to an auditorium full of evangelical pastors in Orlando. Over the course of the roughly 30-minute speech, he touched on topics from Secretary Hillary Clinton’s emails to the job market, but he spoke most passionately about Christianity in America and its supposed decline. He said to the crowd, “You’ve been silenced like a child. You’ve been silenced, you’ve been silenced. Strong, brilliant, great people that want to do the right thing.” In the same speech, true to character, he bragged about ditching the professionally written speech for the event, claimed to have a heart as big as “almost” anyone in the room, and stated that “nobody’s gotten rich by betting against Donald Trump.”

Since the middle of the 20th century, Midwesterners have prioritized moral character when evaluating politicians and presidential candidates. Most of this is driven by religion—the Bible is still an authority in the homes of millions of Midwesterners, and evangelism, the most right-leaning sect of Christianity, thrives in Midwestern states like Indiana, South Dakota, and Missouri. Driven by faith, these people feel morally obligated to vote for those who promise to uphold traditional family values.

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​Nebraska’s News Feed

October 18, 2017

{image id=1325003 byline=true caption=true size=large}Even before 2016, American presidential elections have been influenced by the Internet and social media. President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign revolutionized social media as a way to raise funding—the campaign collected record-breaking amounts primarily from small donations from a wide variety of individuals. President Donald Trump’s campaign also repurposed social media, but, in this case, much of its effectiveness was out of Trump and his team’s hands, and the results were far more disturbing.

By calling most major news sources, whose credibility had never been seriously called into question, “fake,” Trump encouraged right-leaning and independent voters to look elsewhere for their information. Alternative websites such as Breitbart and InfoWars existed before the 2016 election cycle, but their popularity has since skyrocketed, and other sites like them have grown en masse since the explosion of Trump-like rhetoric in the country. Biased news sources exist on the other side of the political spectrum as well, but they are not nearly as radical, and their content is not as violence-inducing as alt-right sites tend to be.

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​Imagining Instability

October 04, 2017

Support for Trump in communities formerly driven by the mining and manufacturing industries has clear origins. The near-elimination of these job markets has left many unemployed, without other practical skills or applicable experience. Trump’s frequent and direct addresses during his campaign solidified these communities’ indignation and prolonged their grieving—by promising the return of their jobs, he’s allowed them to ignore the harsh truth that their industries have irrevocably faded due to natural (and what should be welcome) progress. Caught in the cross-stitches of economic renewal and technological amelioration, these people have endured and continue to face job displacement and financial misfortune.

However, this popular narrative authored by Trump’s administration can only account for, at most, a couple hundred thousand of the almost 63 million people who voted for Trump. And while older upper-middle-class conservatives who typically vote red account for much of Trump’s constituency, many others who align with him unite under the guise that they are enduring severe economic hardship, like the miners and factory workers. And for many of these voters, particularly those in the Midwest, this is simply not true.

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​Many People Have Said This

September 20, 2017

The most terrifying aspect of Donald Trump’s persona is his unpredictability. Those who support him are attracted to and impressed by it, while his opponents fear the consequences of his volatile words and actions. During his campaign, off-the-wall speeches and offensive policy proposals were the height of his capriciousness. As President, his words and actions yield actual consequences.

To non-Trump supporters, his volatility was always frightening. His voters, by contrast, felt relieved to hear from a candidate who was so frank and forward. An article headlined “Why So Many Americans Hate Politics” in the Washington Post explains that the population’s widespread disdain for our governing bodies stems from feeling deceived or “shut out” from politics. Canned speeches and interactions with the public serve no purpose other than to deceptively and condescendingly campaign, benefitting no one but the politician in question.

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