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Donald Trump in the Bayou


Donald Trump in the Bayou

Arlie Hochschild

[TD editor's note: This essay has been adapted from Arlie Hochschild’s new book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press), which will be published on September 6th.]


What a great article. This part struck me: “the feeling of being inside a warm, cooperative group. That’s what he thought government replaced: community. And why pay heavy taxes to help the government rob you of what you most prize?” To me, the government must and can be, part of the community. The instrument of government allows us to have the community we want. I guess people like this guy, whom the author admires for what seems like good reason, just don’t see that as possible.


Hey Mike, vote for Trump and it will be all too easy to pry the gumbo from your cold dead hands; vote for Clinton and she’ll just provoke more war overseas. Some choice, eh?


Notice how Louisiana has managed to push Mississippi out of last place in many categories in recent years ?


What I find striking is that, as polling statistics have also shown regarding other Trump supporters, Mike Schaff is comfortably well-off, $70K income, boat, and expensive hobby building a kit airplane - and he seems to be have rebounded from the environmental catastrophe at his former home site fairly well, so what, exactly, is his gripe? And can he please describe why he believes that he is being “marginalized”? Is he expecting everyone to kiss his fucking white ass or something?


Between the Corporate-Owned News (CON) and the co-mingling of Church and State, folks like Mike Shaff will continue to rationalize the disconnects between their spoon-fed beliefs and the real world. It has already been proved that the guy you want to drink a beer with is not necessarily qualified to be president (George Bush II); the meme appears to be alive and well in this election.

And while the federal government has it’s role, local and state government affect lives on a daily basis in more meaningful ways. Shaff’s problems are far more directly related to Lousiana state government than the federal one the state so often ignores. Louisiana’s problem and those of Shaff can be blamed on the fossil fuel industry and their capture of Lousiana’s elected officials, who happen to be Republican, but could just as easily be Democrats.

I have to ask what Mike Shaff is doing in his community to fight for his bayou? Is his participation in our democracy and in his community limited to voting for one of two evils or is he actively organizing at the local and state level to protect and restore the bayou?


Even if this isn’t the main point, it seems this article is a new twist in the pro-Hillary argument: tell a heart-wrenching story so people can feel what a Trump presidency would mean.

However, Mike’s catastrophe is being overseen by a Democratic president. If this is to get people to vote against Jindal, that’s one thing. But can we say that Obama has been an improvement over Bush in the domain of environmental protection? The establishment Democrats are very much pro-fracking (benzene in your water) and still very easy on corporate destroyers like Texas Brine or Massey. Both Obama (Mr. Clean Coal) and Hillary are very much for coal, and very much for the TPP et al which place judicial oversight of legislation in the hands of corporations that don’t give a damn about Mike or any of us.

It’s gonna take something a HELL of a lot better than any Democrat in order to solve or prevent these issues.


“Why should I pledge allegiance to tribes other than my own?” I imagine Mike Shaff muttering acidly, discharging a few drops of those prickly poisons come to irritate his veins day after day.

Perhaps other CDers could add to the sulfurious story.


You seem to be suffering from the epidemic making facts and associations up out of thin air. If you follow the affairs of government and agency rulemaking, then there would be no argument that Obama has been better than Bush with regard to the environment. Not as good as he should have been, but better. Recall that Bush promised to never allow the EPA to even classify CO2 as a pollutant under the CAA. That changed under Obama. Every one of the many coal-burning power plants in my area is either closed or will close soon. Many mines have closed. You seem to be confusing Obama with Massey energy, Arch Coal, Peabody, Alpha Natural Resources and other now-bankrupt coal companies. If Obama was such a “Friend of Coal” why was he vehemently denounced for his “War On Coal” that everyone in west Virginia and Kentucky is going to vote for Trump over.


I agree. However, the “electoral system” of the USA goes completely against having candidates that represent the people. Lobbies and corporations decide the candidates, money is essential for getting into and continuing in office, staying in gives seniority and power (eg McCain, Dianne Feinstein) and the needs of the people are ignored. No wonder so many are confused and upset.

As well, “community” is a loaded term, and those caring only fro close relatives and friends are less likely to see the bigger picture. This does NOT mean that the “free trade supporters” deserve to be in charge.


Well said! thx.