The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Trump Country

Posted on | September 24, 2019 | Comments Off on Trump Country


In 2016, Donald Trump got 84% of the vote in Johnson County, Kentucky. And you may ask, “Why does this matter?” Because there’s a tiny community in Johnson County called Butcher Hollow, which is the birthplace of Loretta Lynn, the First Lady of Country Music. If you start looking up the hometowns of Grand Ole Opry legends, you’ll find that practically all of them come from places that voted for Trump, including Merle Haggard, who was born in Kern County, California, which went for Trump by a 13-point margin. The political geography of country music might tell us more about America than just about any other metric:

Dwight Yoakam had me in tears Sunday night. I was watching the new Ken Burns PBS documentary series about the history of country music, and Yoakam quoted a Merle Haggard song, “Holding Things Together,” which is about a man trying to raise his children after his wife has left the family. When Yoakam sang the verse about a heartbroken father attempting to comfort his daughter on her birthday, he choked up, and suddenly the tears were streaming from my eyes, too.
They just don’t write ’em like that anymore, not even in Nashville. Those old songs about hard times and broken hearts, crying in your beer over a cheating woman — you can literally feel the pain in the twanging voices and the whining steel guitars. And the men and women who sang those songs knew a thing or two about hard times, having come from backgrounds of poverty that few Americans in the 21st century can imagine.
Give credit to Burns for this: His eight-part series reminds us that what our contemporary progressives denounce as “white privilege” has never been universal in America, and it certainly didn’t typify the backgrounds of the folks who made Nashville famous as “Music City, U.S.A.” Haggard, for example, was born in Kern County, California, in 1937, the youngest of three children in a family that had left a farm in Oklahoma after their barn burned down. The Haggards were “Okies,” characters right out of a Steinbeck novel, at the bottom of the heap in one of the worst economic eras in American history. . . .

Read the rest of my latest column at The American Spectator.



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