A year ago, I declared on these pages that despite being a Republican my whole life, I would not under any circumstances vote for Donald J. Trump for president. Since then, I’ve been asked by other Republicans if I kept that promise (I did) and whether I regret it (I don’t).
Set aside the anti-government bromides that could have been ripped from a random page of National Review, where Vance is a regular contributor. There is a more sinister thesis at work here, one that dovetails with many liberal views of Appalachia and its problems. Vance assures readers that an emphasis on Appalachia’s economic insecurity is “incomplete” without a critical examination of its culture. His great takeaway from life in America’s underclass is: Pull up those bootstraps. Don’t question elites. Don’t ask if they erred by granting people mortgages and lines of credit they couldn’t afford to repay. Don’t call it what it is—corporate deception—or admit that it plunged this country into one of the worst economic crises it’s ever experienced.
Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.
One thing all of this makes clear is that the sickness of American politics didn’t begin with Donald Trump, any more than the sickness of the Roman Republic began with Caesar. The erosion of democratic foundations has been underway for decades, and there’s no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover.
“We called it an ‘evacuation’ road, a ‘relocation’ road,” Mr. Jackson said. “The state and federal government didn’t like those two words.”
"The wind tiptoes between poplars, carrying its shoes."
"You, too, are abandoned."
"All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home."
"So we wait, breeding mood, making music of decline."
"Instead of offering a single, cohesive and enduring vision for America, the founders were diverse and squabbling. They generated contradictory political principles that persist to our own day. Instead of offering us an antidote to our divisions, those clashing founders created them."
Scientists now recognize that our impact on Earth has become so significant we've pushed it out of the Holocene into the Anthropocene, an entirely new geological epoch dominated by our own activity.