Where the American Dream Died

The Gospel Coalition | 3/11/2019 | Staff
erinmmarion (Posted by) Level 3
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Call it the Hillbilly Elegy effect. Bookstores have bulged with attempts to explain support for President Trump since his surprise election in 2016. Such books ask the same question: What’s wrong with America? But they don’t emerge from the same assumptions or aspirations. One set masks their accusation in a question: Who are these people who voted for Trump? The other set aspires to learn an answer: What are they trying to tell us?

Timothy P. Carney belongs in the latter category with his new book, Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse. Carney, commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, insists that he’s written a book about Trump voters, not about Trump. And we’re grateful he did. Carney’s book doesn’t belong in the genre of political polemics whose authors appear on cable news. It’s more like the long series of sociological studies produced by the likes of Robert Putnam, Charles Murray, and Robert Wuthnow. Carney shows how places where you’re more likely to bowl alone resonated with Trump’s rallying cry that he would make America great again. For them, the American dream is dead.

Carney - Perspective - Lament - Loss - Capital

But Carney brings a unique and insightful perspective to this long-standing lament for the loss of social capital in American life. He doesn’t concentrate on the 2016 general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, because Trump supporters offered innumerable reasons for preferring him to Clinton. So he turns to the Republican primary election results, and he discerns a fascinating trend.

In particular he looks to areas where Trump lagged behind competitors like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Those locales contrast as much as heavily Dutch, conservative, middle-class Oostburg, Wisconsin, and cosmopolitan, liberal, rich Chevy Chase, Maryland. So what holds them in common? They score especially high...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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