Monday, November 14, 2016

Author who chronicled rural Wisconsin voters' sense of resentment explains why Trump won

In 2015, Katherine Cramer, a political-science professor at the University of Wisconsin, published a book, The Politics of Resentment, that looked at how voters in 27 rural communities in Wisconsin felt about politics. She found that many feel a "deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved." That helped Donald Trump score big in rural areas and narrowly take battleground states such as Wisconsin.

"I had not intended to study a rural-urban divide when I sampled the 27 places I had been visiting," Cramer writes for The Washington Post. "But about a year into this project, one thing was inescapable: People in these small communities and rural places deeply resented the two main metropolitan areas of Madison, the state capital, and Milwaukee. I grew up on the northern edge of the Milwaukee metro region, but the depth and the intensity of this resentment surprised me."

"They resented that they were not getting respect," she writes. "They perceived that city folks called people like them ignorant racists who could not figure out their own interests. To them, urban types just did not get small-town life—what people in those places value, the way they live, and the challenges they face."

"Onto this terrain trod Trump," she writes. "And he found firm footing, just as Scott Walker did in his rise to the governorship. His message was basically this: ‘You are right. You are not getting your fair share. And you should be angry about it. You work hard, you are deserving, and yet you are not getting what you should. Instead, the people currently in charge are giving some people way more than they deserve. Elect me and I’ll make American great again. I’ll give you back what you deserve and a way of life you are sorely missing.’ For people who were feeling ignored, disrespected and overlooked by the urban elite, the Trump campaign had a strong appeal.”

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