It was a sensible choice until it wasn’t


Dear President Trump,

I’ve been thinking more about out of work coal miners and other blue collar workers in their 50’s, and 60’s who voted for you. My sense is that most of them took jobs after graduating high school and started earning good wages and benefits right away while their cousin or neighbor left the county to go to college for four to seven years where they earned no money and went seriously into debt. It would look really smart to not bother with impractical academics that won’t feed a family, to stay put and get a good paying job that brings strong buying power by age 20. It seems like people would have felt really good about these choices because in so many ways they made good sense.

What I’m guessing wasn’t factored in were the illnesses and injuries and mine and factory closures. The illnesses and injuries people probably could have seen coming since their older relatives likely sustained them, but like most of us when we are young, I imagine they thought they were too smart and too strong to get hurt, until they got hurt. The closures would have been harder to see coming.

My sense is that three key things stem from all this (aside from chronic opiate addiction). One, since people need to believe they are smart and make good decisions even when things turn out badly, cognitive dissonance can lead to revisionist history to maintain the belief that one’s chosen life style really was/is solid and smart even when one is ill from black lung and out of work. Second, to shore this up, it helps to believe that those who left to pursue higher education are know-nothing elitist snobs who couldn’t work a full day of labor no matter how much they were paid. Third, it is logical to vote for someone who promises to reinstate the old, good paying jobs with solid benefits that would bring back a treasured way of life. Basically, I think we hear what we want and need to hear. This way of life made sense 30 years ago and by, God, it still makes sense and so let’s go with the anti-intellectual candidate who promises to deliver.

Whether this evaluation has any merit, I sure hope you don’t hang them out to dry with no jobs and no access to affordable healthcare. It would be absolutely unconscionable.

Because all of this is so scary and infuriating:

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect peacefully.

Tracy Simpson

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