By Rod Dreher
In retrospect, that interview in the summer was a seismic warning of the election earthquake to come in the fall.
In late June last year, Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s memoir of his tumultuous childhood lived on the border between Appalachia and the Rust Belt, appeared in bookstores, attracting little notice. A month later, an interview Vance did about the book with The American Conservative went viral, melting down this magazine’s internet server three times and propelling the book to the No. 1 slot on the New York Times bestseller list.
Vance, 31, became an overnight media star, the go-to guy to explain Donald J. Trump’s appeal to the white working class. As a Yale Law School graduate now working in finance in San Francisco, Vance straddled the sharp cultural and experiential divide between deepest Blue and deepest Red America. Given Trump’s stunning victory, and the fact that the Rust Belt delivered the win, Hillbilly Elegy was undoubtedly the most important political book of 2016.
What does the accidental hillbilly prophet see in Trump Nation’s future? Vance forecasts a great deal of instability ahead with challenges that he is not sure either party is capable of meeting. Come what may, though, the Hillbilly Elegy experience convinced its author that he has a calling to leave the world of high finance to take a hands-on role in helping to solve the social crisis his bestselling book so powerfully describes.
Though a Republican, Vance was not a Trump supporter. Throughout the election season, he made it clear in interviews that he believed Trump to be a false messiah bound to break the hearts of his supporters.
Nevertheless, the Trump phenomenon was an apocalypse in the strict sense of the word—that is, an unveiling that revealed some startling truths about economic class and culture in America. In the aftermath of this historical election, Vance says the vote showed most of all how staggeringly out of touch elites—both liberals and conservatives—are with an enormous number of their fellow Americans.
“They couldn’t imagine that anyone would vote for Trump, couldn’t imagine that a person might not even love Trump but would vote for him anyway,” says Vance. “Something analogous happened with the book. So many readers have told me that they had no idea that people grew up like I did. They didn’t understand where so many of us came from, so they didn’t understand Trump.”
As the national media’s premier explainer of the Trump phenomenon, Vance says journalists searching themselves to see how they got so much wrong should get out of their coastal bubbles, choked with the acrid, blinding smoke of confirmation bias, and spend serious, sustained time among ordinary Americans—both those who voted for Trump, and those who hate him.
After all, identity is a complicated, many-layered thing. Hispanic voters were expected to despise Trump and turn out in record numbers to vote for Hillary Clinton. In the end, exit polling showed that Trump won 29 percent of the Hispanic vote. One working-class …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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