White liberal rage

The elites’ demonisation of rural America is out of control.

Jenny Holland

Topics Politics USA

White American intellectuals are dumping all over the white working class – again. It seems they still haven’t learned that accusing vast swathes of voters of being malevolent, wild-eyed hillbillies isn’t the best way of persuading people to their cause.

In the new book, White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy, authors Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman claim to use ‘research’ and ‘studies’ to back up every liberal prejudice under the sun.

Did the authors find that white people who live in rural areas are often racists? Yes. Did they find that these rural, white, slack-jawed yokels espouse wild QAnon theories? Also yes. Did they find that these supposedly racist, conspiratorial rubes back Donald Trump in ever-greater numbers? Of course they did.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, Schaller claimed that he and his co-author ‘provide the receipts’ to finally, finally, prove that the white men and women in flyover country are a danger to the US and must be brought to heel:

‘First of all, and we show 30 polls and national studies to demonstrate this… they are the most racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-gay geo-demographic group in the country.

‘Second, they are the most conspiracist group – QAnon support and subscribers, election denialism, Covid denialism, scientific scepticism, Obama birther-ism.

‘Third, anti-democratic sentiments. They don’t believe in an independent press [or] free speech. They’re most likely to say the president should be able to act unilaterally, without any checks from Congress or the courts or the bureaucracy…

‘And fourth, they are most likely to excuse or justify violence as an acceptable alternative to peaceful public discourse.’

I was half expecting Schaller to finish up with ‘and their mommas are ugly, too’. Even the host, Mika Brzezinski, hardly a woman of the people, seemed a bit taken aback by the vitriol he was spewing toward ordinary Americans.

Still, White Rural Rage has generally had a warm reception from the chattering classes. The reviews of it have revealed just how much hostility and disdain the professional managerial class has for the average American. For years now, the media have been endlessly monstering blue-collar, white America. It has been painful and unsettling to witness, not least as we are all aware of what can happen when one group consistently dehumanises another.

It’s quite striking that the mainstream media still cannot fathom why some voters might have rational reasons for backing Donald Trump over Joe Biden and the Democrats. Might the border crisis, the drug epidemic, the cost-of-living crisis, or the expeditionary wars in faraway lands, in which generations of young rural Americans were killed, be motivating these voters to turn against the establishment? No, according to the elites, it must just be down to a primal, seething hatred of black people.

Thankfully, White Rural Rage has received some pushback – most notably from one of the academics the authors cited to prop up their dubious case. Kristin Lunz Trujillo, associate professor at University of South Carolina, wrote in Newsweek that ‘the book makes a lot of negative assertions about this group without the methodological rigour or correct characterisation of existing literature to back it up’. It turns out there is actually no good evidence to suggest white rural voters are especially prone to touting QAnon conspiracy theories or are more supportive of political violence.

One thing Trujillo’s research did find is that, among rural Americans who strongly identify with their rural roots, there is a ‘heightened distrust of experts and intellectuals’. Waldman and Schaller might think this is proof of their prejudice that the rural rubes reject science. But given the cartoonish view of rural America that these two supposed experts put forward in White Rural Rage, the country-dwellers’ scepticism is surely justified.

I can’t help but spy a sinister motive behind this demonisation of rural workers. Waldman and Schaller have the nerve to accuse the ordinary, hard-working people of middle America of being a ‘threat to democracy’. But when our elites say ‘democracy’, what they mean is the opposite. They’re talking about the ability of the powerful to rule without being interrupted by the pesky electorate. Voters, after all, can sometimes vote the ‘wrong’ way. In truth, it is these elites who are doing the most to chip away at America’s liberal, democratic principles.

Personally, I find Waldman and Schaller’s White Liberal Rage to be far more alarming than anything those fools are trying to warn us about.

Jenny Holland is a former newspaper reporter and speechwriter. Visit her Substack here.

Matt Ridley and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation

Matt Ridley and Brendan O’Neill – live and in conversation


Thursday 21 March – 7pm to 8pm GMT

This is a free event, exclusively for spiked supporters.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics USA


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today