I wanted to take a moment to speak with everyone regarding Trump.
Life’s been tough in rural America. It always has been. We’ve been the ones who built this country. The food that was put on the plates of our founding fathers was grown by the hands of the working people (or slaves when thinking of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington). The timber, iron, brick, granite, and marble that built the beautiful, elaborate homes and buildings of politicians and business owners came from our lands and our difficult, enduring work. Hundreds of thousands of people have died working in rural America, be it miners, loggers, farmers, fisherman, mill workers, and more, all to supply a growing urban population. And if we haven’t died, our lives have at least been made shorter and less enjoyable.
This has been the way of it since well before we immigrated to North America. Little has changed as we continue to supply food and goods to urban centers where 80% of Americans now live. It has always been expected of us, taken from us without appreciation, without concern or care, all so people in other places can enjoy the “finer things in life” without getting their own hands dirty or risking their own necks.
Our Appalachian mountain ancestors had to fight for basic pay, basic benefits, and basic safety against the greed of outside corporations. People wanted our coal and our labor at the cheapest price possible. This is our history and it remains our present. When we’ve been so abused, so manipulated, so demeaned and stereotyped, it’s easy to search out a hero who carries our cause, who acts as if they have our best interests in mind—someone who even dislikes the same people we do. But not every “hero” is on our side. The old saying that “actions speak louder than words” holds true among today’s politicians—even of Trump. If these people really cared about us, their focus would be on making our day to day lives better while creating a safer, healthier future for our children. Despite Trump’s “love” for coal miners, he hasn’t done anything to increase miner safety. He has only promised more jobs without caring about what those jobs do to our health. When he said, “You’ll be working your asses off” he sure didn’t take any more time to add on, “…in safer, better conditions and with better pay and benefits than you’ve ever had.”
Trump tries to speak as if he knows us, but he has never walked a mile in our shoes. He does not know our way of life. How could he know how to make it better? He simply knows what we hate (ignorant environmentalists and liberal elitists); acts as if he knows what we want (jobs); and he uses those things to manipulate people into believing he cares about them. He never cared about us before the election. Why should we believe he cares now? And recall that hard hat he wore? That was handed to him by the West Virginia Coal Association, not an actual coal miner. He’s a friend to coal operators, not coal miners. There’s a big difference.
I know that many people support Trump because he speaks his mind and doesn’t act like a typical politician. But that doesn’t mean he is a good person. That doesn’t mean he cares about us as much as he lets on. He is a businessman through and through, and he only does what he thinks will get him something in return.
Too many people put way too much stock in big names. They put too much belief and hope into media portrayals and distractions. What we need now more than ever is each other. We need to care about one another, we need to realize once again how the system really works and who is doing the abusing. We need to think through the BS and ask questions. Behind many actions are motives, and among the wealthy, those motives are rarely in the best interest of the working folks.
We live in a world of self-interested people who control the economy, experts at extracting from everyone else to build their power, their fortunes—their egos. Why do we let these kinds of people tell us how to live? Why do we admire their wealth and power knowing (Thou shalt not covet). If we really stop to think about it, their wealth can only have come from paying people less than their worth for their labor (at least a lot less then what they expect if THEY had to do it) or from giving communities less for their natural resources than what they are worth. Appalachia was once known as the Saudi Arabia of coal, but that wealth never made it back to our communities.
It’s time we start caring about each other once again. It’s time we start learning about each other, breaking down barriers, giving from our hearts, and not letting the media and political interests tell us how we should feel about one another. Our lives are right here in our own communities and I am tired of people trying to shape how we feel about one another while using us for their own interests—be it votes, labor, money, or resources. The people we need to be worrying about, the people we should really be angry with for our problems, are the ones with the big houses , private jets, and money business partners who help get them elected. It is the people who build large corporations, who run the large banks—who own all the property and keep us in perpetual debt just to keep a roof over our family’s heads. We shouldn’t be worrying about those who are struggling, people like us who are working their lives away just trying to provide for their families, no matter where they come from. We even need to think more kindly about those who have given up on finding a meaningful job, the people who have tried and failed, who have found themselves and their families outcast by our society and who became dependent on government handouts. After all, is it really their fault they became who they are? Aren’t many of us just a pink slip and a missed rent or mortgage payment from being homeless? Couldn’t some of the reason people are on public assistance be our fault for not caring about them? Could it be because we jump to label people and dismiss them rather than walking a mile in their shoes and working to provide each other more opportunity to live and find happiness in just being good people?
We have to remember who we are and what makes those who have blue collars so wonderful. All of my life I thought it was how selfless we were, how much we cared about our neighbors, how we enjoyed living simply, and how that no matter the color of each other’s skin, we found love in our hearts. We realized that we, and everyone around us were being taken advantage of by the wealthy “elite” and we took care of one another.
Today, I think we’ve let the wealthy influence us too much. We covet their lifestyles and believe too much of what they say. We need to teach and be retaught what kindness and giving really means. Judging by his lifestyle and “F you” attitude, I don’t think that’s a lesson Trump knows or cares about, just like most other wealthy businessmen and politicians who don’t spend time listening to the working people of our nation.