Center for Political Awareness

“They Frankly Laugh Behind the Backs of Their Own Voters”: How Republicans Bamboozle Rural Whites

In "White Rural Rage," Paul Waldman and Thomas Schaller reject the narrative that treats Trump voters like children. (Click image for article.)

Photo: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on February 24, 2024 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)


It’s become a tedious trope, the Beltway journalist who goes on a red state safari to ask Donald Trump voters if they still like Trump. It frustrates smart readers because invariably the answer is “yes” yet the rationale is typically incoherent babble. Even that would be fine, if these reporters dug an inch deeper, to get at the various bigotries that are actually driving the MAGA movement. Instead, most of them seem too in awe of redhats sitting in diners, as though they’ve just encountered a rare species of bird in the wild, to bother interrogating them in a way that reveals anything genuinely valuable. 

If readers see the title “White Rural Rage: The Threat to Democracy,” they might think it’s more of the same. But this book, by former Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman and University of Maryland, Baltimore professor Thomas Schaller, is a very different animal. Waldman and Schaller believe that rural white people are functioning adults who have agency and are not the childlike ciphers of Fox News. As such, the book refreshingly holds rural white voters to account for their choices, and for willfully gobbling down right-wing propaganda. It calls on rural Americans to take responsibility for themselves, by asking the harder question of what it would actually take to improve their communities. 

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