In 2016, pundits speculated endlessly on that mysterious place called Trump Country. To many in the Beltway, much of America was a foreign country, to be analyzed statistically rather than in person. Chris Arnade, on the other hand, was determined to escape his coastal bubble. Arnade got into his old van, and has spent the last several years traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, interviewing people all over the country, discovering their joys, sorrows, discontents, and aspirations. In the process he has produced a set of photographs and stories, depicting the everyday Americans who are left out of the media’s understandings of the country, and who feel left out of the 21st century economy. Arnade spoke to Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson about what he has learned in his travels.
CA: Well, that’s my whole frustration. That was the revelation I had over the last 2½ years. You have to view it from a framework of valuation and morality. And also culture, it’s not about economics. You have to use the old framework of is something banal or sacred? Is it profane or is it sacred?
I went to therapy for a bit, several years back. A very efficient waste of time (edit: in my case, and in hindsight, I mean. if you're thinking about therapy, you should at least check it out. ignore the stigma), but I did learn how futile it was to avoid acknowledging primal feelings and urges. It's generally a good way to approach a situation in which people have stopped behaving "logically".
A large hunk of America got spooked, and they exacted their revenge. I don't think this is going to end very well for the rural working-class family, despite what some of them may feel right now. They were duped. Our leaders have truly run many of us aground, but we do it to ourselves, too.