Kristof visited hillbilly voters!


So did Jenna Johnson:
What do Donald J. Trump's 63 million voters now think about Donald J. Trump?

There's no way to answer such a sweeping question in a definitive way. Unless we think Those People are all alike, there are many different answers to that sweeping question.

Still and all, Nicholas Kristof made the effort last week. He visited Oklahoma, then wrote a column about what he heard. His column in yesterday's New York Times started like this:
KRISTOF (4/2/17): Rhonda McCracken is a kindergarten teacher and a Republican who voted for President Trump. Now she’s wrestling with the consequences.

McCracken’s deep-rooted conservatism is matched by a passion to support Tulsa Domestic Violence Intervention Services, a nonprofit that helped her flee an ex- who she says beat and choked her, once until unconsciousness. She became teary as she described how staff members at the organization helped her and her son escape that relationship.

“They saved my life, and my son’s,” she said, her eyes liquid.

So she is aghast that one of Trump’s first proposals is to cut federal funds that sustain the organization. “My prayer is that Congress will step in” to protect domestic violence programs, she said.
Kristof says he interviewed "many people like McCracken—fervent Trump supporters who now find that the White House is trying to ax programs they have depended on...And they’re upset," Kristof says.

Later, Kristof says that some of these voters are "shocked" at Trump's proposed budget cuts. He also says the Trump voters to whom he spoke do not (yet) regret or renounce their votes.

Eventually, as Kristof explains, a familiar note appears. "Some of the loyalty seemed to be grounded in resentment at Democrats for mocking Trump voters as dumb bigots," Kristof says.

He lists this as the first explanation for the loyalty to Trump. There We go again!

We liberals! Again and again, we cheer as our massively "privileged" Harvard men denounce Those People as "hillbillies." We then express our vast surprise when The Others won't accept our brilliant advice about the right ways to think, behave, vote and live.

We send our most highly "privileged" players out to name-call The Others. In this morning's Washington Post, Jenna Johnson explains who some of these less "privileged" people are.

Johnson went to Oklahoma too, in search of Trump supporters facing proposed budget cuts. Who are the hillbillies against whom Rich railed in his recent New York Magazine piece? In this passage, Johnson described a deeply admirable Rose of Sharon, a young woman whose Oklahoma life hasn't exactly been Frank Rich's crystal stair:
JOHNSON (4/3/17): When Crystal Tate was in middle school, she attended a week-long program that took her and other low-income students to visit college campuses in Oklahoma and Texas, introducing them to a world that can be foreign and intimidating.

The trip was organized by Talent Search, a program offered through the decades-old federal program TRIO, which helps first-generation, low-income students get into college and graduate by providing the support they may not be receiving at home.

Trump wants to cut TRIO and another initiative called GEAR UP by $193 million, saying many such programs are redundant and there is limited evidence that some of the initiatives work—assertions that Tate and university officials wholeheartedly reject.

Tate is now 21 and a junior at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, studying to become a teacher. She pays for college with a combination of Pell Grants, which the president has pledged to protect, and other scholarships. She lives with her grandparents in Boswell, about 30 miles away, so that she can coach girls’ sports teams there.

Out of Tate’s graduating high school class of 17, six attempted college or a trade school and only two stuck with it, including her. She plans to be the first college graduate in her immediate family.

“School was a place where I felt at home, where I felt like I could be part of something bigger than myself,” said Tate, who did not vote in November. “And in order for me to further my ability to be something better than myself, I knew that college would have to happen.”
There were 17 kids in her high school class. She wasn't taken to see Harvard and Yale; she was taken to see schools like Southeastern Oklahoma State. Those trips to those relatively unheralded campuses introduced her and her classmates "to a world that can be foreign and intimidating."

This admirable young person is making it at Southeastern State. Pay no attention to the fact that Tate didn't vote last fall, not even for Jill Stein. She's one of the people Rich was insulting with that "hillbilly" tag.

A lordly magazine in a big city ran that mindless headline. Such conduct occurs on a regular basis. Conduct like that spreads political poison all across the land.

Who the heck is Crystal Tate: “I’m determined to prove that first-generation, low-income students can make a difference,’’ the Bennington High School graduate said in The Oklahoman. Also, “I intend to return to rural Oklahoma to help others live healthier, happier, more informed and brighter lives.”

Welcome to the breadth of the land! For more Crystal Tate, click this.

For Bennington, Oklahoma, click here.


  1. Does Somerby seriously believe that because a Crystal Tate exists, there are no hillbillies?

    Leon Festinger studied members of a doomsday cult after doomsday. He expected that their support for their cult leader would be weakened by the failure of the world to end as predicted. Instead, he found that most of the cult members had developed even stronger belief in their leader.


    How do you get beliefs to change if cognitive dissonance protects beliefs when confronted by contradictory facts? One way is by asking people to argue the opposing viewpoint. That generates empathy and the emotion-based understanding of another's viewpoint can create attitude change.

    Perhaps that is what Somerby is trying to accomplish here. By asking readers to empathize with Trump voters, he is facilitating the possibility of attitude change.

    But then we have to ask -- why would Somerby want liberals to become Trump supporters? We are back to my theory that Somerby is now being paid by Russia. I cannot see any other reason why a long time liberal would want to make other liberals adopt conservative views, especially in support of someone as vile as Trump.

    1. "Somerby's pretending there are no hillbillies!"

      "Putin's Somerby's paymaster!!!!!!11!"

      "Somerby wants liberals to support Trump!"

      tl;dr > Anon forget to take their meds

    2. What do you think Somerby wants, Nona?

    3. Right-wing-hate-radio called Bob and his fellow Democrats DEMON-CRATS, and other similar names oh, I'd say about 10,000 during his lifetime. Yet no reporters ever came to interview Bob or other Democrats asking if they felt resentment against Republicans because of this. Why not?

    4. Bob isn't some of your loyalty to Democrats grounded in resentment at Republicans for mocking Democratic voters as being demonic?

    5. Speaking for myself it truly must be so. This Republican mocking of me has cost them my vote forever!

    6. The fact that these elections are for government positions, and Republicans hate government, has cost them my vote forever.

  2. Not sure what value there is in sympathy for a voter who votes for a bigot (and KKK endorsed) for President because they felt mocked as "dumb bigots". These same people have mocked me as a liberal pinko communist since the 70's. If you don't like being mocked then stop being a dumb racist hillbilly redneck. If you don't want to change your views and actions then own up to them and embrace the racist label.

    1. Are you certain that it was "the same people"?

    2. Kristof made an effort. Do conservative journalists make similar efforts to understand liberal voters?

    3. No one voted for Trump because you called them a bigot. They voted for reasons you might have been able to talk them out of with argument, but they didn't listen to you because they learned you were stupid from the fact that your argument includes, or is limited to screaming BIGOT.

      No one cares what a person like that thinks, because no one believes they do think. They only emote, and usually with an unhealthy level of rage.

    4. 2;6 PM,
      No. they voted for Trump because they are bigots. I know, i know, the corporate-owned mainstream media has insisted, it was anything but bigotry. But, I noticed, the corporate-owned media has been unable to come up with any other reason.. Admit it, the USA is a bigoted country. How else do you think wrongly blaming the CRA (and not, say, sun spots) for the 2008 economic crash caught on with the public?

  3. Bob, no comment on the fact that Susan Rice has now been identified as the Obama official who unmasked the identities of various individuals in the Trump campaign over the course of a yearlong wiretapping operation? She would not have done this without Obama's knowledge and approval.

    Oh and by the way, whatever happened to Obama anyway? He seems to have mysteriously fled the country ever since the wiretapping allegations emerged.

    Trump was right again, Bob.

    1. Nope....

    2. There was never a doubt the Russia story would end up as a story about Obama's illegal use of intelligence against a political opponent.

    3. Maj, Susan Rice HAS NOT been identified as you claim, indeed there is only this report:

      that claims:

      "White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign"

      However that claim is actually based on anonymous sources:

      "according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly"

      Dubious at best. In fact here is Susan Rice on the very subject:

      She makes it clear that she knows nothing about Trump or Trump campaign members being under surveillance even incidentally. Supposition could lead to the possibility that Susan Rice requested the identity of surveyed people who happened to be members of Trump's campaign but without knowing who those people were or what role they played. There is no reason or reasonable expectation why Susan Rice would know the names of people in Trump's campaign. In that case, the unnamed anonymous US officials that were the source for the article, were misusing the information they had to mislead and give a false impression about Susan Rice. A con so very typical of Republican operatives and the Trump administration.

      As Susan Rice points out, Maj, only the Justice Department with approval of a FISA court can conduct surveillance of an American.

      Additionally, Maj, there was no "yearlong wiretapping operation" of Trump or his campaign.

      Maj, Trump was very wrong when he claimed "Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower". This turns out to be a complete falsehood.

      Maj, you are also way off on Obama's actions since leaving the White House. He responded to Trump's childish accusation by calmly pointing out that his administration followed the principle of not interfering in investigations, and of course that no President can order surveillance.

      Indeed, Maj, post-presidency Obama is getting very involved in politics, so much so that Republican Representative Mike Kelly claimed that Obama is running a "shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda". In reality Obama is looking into actively countering the self serving redistricting practices of Republicans, an important endeavor that Republicans find particularly threatening.

    4. Susan Rice. Ah yes, who can forget Congressional Republicans trying to blame her for Benghazi, after they turned-down Benghazi's additional security funding request. Bonus points for remembering they did so to tie the hands of the POTUS, during the biggest economic recession the nation faced in 7 decades. They may not vociferously hate the citizens of the United States, but they aren't afraid to keep them suffering for electoral success.

  4. When someone like 'Fox security analyst" (sic) Ralph Peters calls "BS", we can pretty much assume its BS.

  5. How are Democrats ever going to regains control, before the time when whites are actually in the minority? The only way may be for those on the short end of the increasing inequality divide to unite - that is have a class war instead of a race war or culture war. Liberals who insist on carrying on the culture war as a matter of adolescent taunts about stupid hillbillies (for example) are doing exactly what the big-money factions of the Republican Party (and some Democrats) want them to do.

    1. Liberals think we can provide assistance to the lower classes while still protecting the rights of all.
      Conservatives think we are just too bigoted of a nation to do so.

  6. Neither Kristol nor Johnson referred to the people they described as hillbillies. For that you have to follow Somerby's link to Frank Rich, who argues we should not have sympathy for Trump voters.

    I find it hard to have sympathy for Tate, who Somerby says didn't vote. Why not? If she can find her way to college, why not to the polls? I have no sympathy at all for McCracken. What is wrong with her!

    Kristol argues that these people resent being called hillbillies so they find the biggest idiot they can and vote for him, just to get even. That isn't exactly challenging the stereotypes of rural stupidity.

    1. Well said. This is a little twisted even for Bob.

    2. The typical Bob tactic is to twist while deploring that others do so. He has twisted what Frank Rich wrote beyond all proportion.
      Rich wrote that conservatives, including the author of "Hillbilly Elegy" show no sympathy for the working class poor.

  7. Bob, hillbillies live in the higher elevations of the Adirondacks and Ozarks. Texans and Oklahomans are"Flatlanders". Been there.

  8. I'm a progressive hillbilly hellraiser at heart, from the big city. Does that make me only half a bad person?

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