Blame Republicans and Conservatives for the Death of Small Town America
Here’s a fact? 97 out of the 100 poorest counties in America are in red states — i.e. Republican states. Yet almost no one blames Republicans for the collapse of small-town America. Aren’t most small towns run by conservative Republicans?
Democrats often get blamed for the collapse of many American cities, particularly inner-city neighborhoods where stores and shops are boarded up and poverty is a daily way of life for the people who live there.
The ruse goes something like this: Big cities are mostly run by Democrats, who comprise a majority of mayors and city councils. Accordingly, Democrats are at fault for slums, crime, and a pervasive diseased culture of hopelessness.
The accusation does seem to have considerable merit to those with little or no grasp of history nor an understanding of urban affairs. The accusation appears to ring true to those stuck inside echo chambers of hyperpartisan disinformation, which is deliberate and constant toxicity brewed on right-wing media. The accusation does look factual to someone who’s spent no time actually working in big cities nor ever comes into direct contact with people who born and live most of their lives in poverty. It’s attractive clickbait to those susceptible to the mindlessness of memes, those who don’t really give a damn at all about their fellow brothers and sisters struggling to make ends meet in the ghetto.
Indeed, there’s a lot of blame floating around out there and most of it is aimed at Democrats.
Now, let’s look at the truth.
Oddly enough, for reasons I can’t quite comprehend, no one blames Republicans for the collapse of small-town America. I mean, wait-just-a-minute here: Aren’t most small towns run by conservative Republicans?
The fact is, small-town America has been in a tailspin for several decades. The evidence is overwhelming. Despite a so-called “boom economy,” many town squares, once thriving centers of commerce packed with locals who shopped and ate lunch and conducted most of their business with people they knew, now resemble snapshots of what things were like during the Great Depression. Boarded up stores. Broken windows. Vacancy signs. Buildings completely deserted. You know, just like in the big cities.
Look at some of these pictures. You can’t tell if these buildings are in Detroit or Dixie.
Things are at their very worst — in other words, the economy really sucks — in small towns in the South and the West. Many towns have quite simply vanished. They are de facto ghost towns — places with signs and spots on a map — and they number in the hundreds, if not thousands. And they’re vanishing.
Why is this happening? Many reasons. One is that Walmart has steamrolled over more businesses and led to the shutdown of more factories in America, due to outsourcing its suppliers and manufacturing overseas, than any company in history.
Looking for a culprit to blame for all the stores in the town being vacant?
Here’s something you won’t read on the right-wing rags. Thank giant corporations, industrial farming, conservative economic policies pushed by Republicans, union-busting, and the insatiable greed of the market greased by company shareholders who consistently demand profits over people. If a product can be made cheaper in China, fuck it — close the doors and move the plant. Capitalism 101.
And so, small towns and the people who live in them became the victims of bad economics.
Yet, no one points a finger at any of the Republican mayors of these deserted towns, nor the Republican congressional representatives who dominate these districts, nor the state and local officials who are mostly Republicans, nor the Governors of states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, or Kentucky who are all Republicans.
Why is that?
Why are Democrats to blame for boarded up windows in Baltimore, but Republicans get a free pass for creating the thousands of shitholes in their own backyards?
Here’s a fact? 97 OUT OF 100 OF THE NATION’S POOREST COUNTIES ARE IN RED STATES.
Take a moment. Let that sink in. Republicans are in charge of 97 percent of America’s shitholes.
So now, let’s get back to inner cities. Yeah, many of those areas suck. Things are awful. And someone should take responsibility.
But what are the factors that led to slums? Who’s to blame for that?
I have a theory, and I’m convinced that I’m correct. Let’s see if you agree.
In the 1950s, a phenomenon social scientists later came to term as “White Flight” began happening. Whites began fleeing inner cities and moved to the suburbs. Since White people owned most of the wealth and held all the political and economic power, most cities were left devastated by the mass departure which took place over a long period, generally between 1950 and 1985. Fewer people with wealth paying taxes meant cities didn’t have as much money. Stores fell into disrepair. Sections of cities began collapsing.
During this time, factories closed down or moved to other parts of the country, but more often overseas. Thousands of them. Cities that once were home to millions of factory workers who spent their paychecks in town, were left deserted. Who is to blame for this? Liberals?
Then, neighborhoods were carved up. People with no power became pawns. Highways were built, highways mostly intended for commuters and companies making deliveries, and inner cities became reduced to the dark recesses of an off-ramp, an area of town we were instructed not to go into. Stay away, we were told. It’s dangerous. Inner cities didn’t get that way all by themselves. They were starved. They were choked. They were bled dry. And the skeletons of today are the remnants of centuries of racism and the grotesque failure of an economic system tailored to wealth and power and privilege, while indifferent to its victims.
Yes, conservative economics ruined cities. Greed ruined cities. Democrats, who have inherited the messes caused by the past, now get blamed for conditions they couldn’t possibly have prevented. If you don’t feed something that’s living, eventually it dies. That holds true for inner-city Baltimore. It holds true for Dixie, West Virginia (population 315).
It’s conservative economic philosophies and Republicans’ distorted policies that have created the squalor of many inner cities, just as it’s conservative economic philosophies and Republicans’ distorted policies that have destroyed small towns.
We and they are one and the same.