What’s the Matter With Appalachia?


What’s the matter with Appalachia? Many liberal elites think they know the answer. Since Trump’s campaign first took off, the economically devastated mountain range has become a symbol of all that is wrong with red-state America — a place replete with guns, bigotry, and the Confederate flag.

There is, indeed, a lot wrong with Appalachia, but what’s most wrong is this: it’s a region where people who waged the most militant labor struggles in American history are now seeing their lives devastated by coal company greed, automation, shifts in global commodity markets, and, of course, by Republican reaction and neoliberal neglect.

Opposing bigotry must be central for leftist politics, but the Left must also fight the liberal proclivity to write Appalachia off. Neoliberalism foments racism by paving the way for right-wing politics that tell white people that people of color are going to steal their share of a shrinking pie. ...

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