[RM: User "hetellsitlikeitis" posted this comment to Reddit in 2018, in response to "Xxyxx098" trotting out familiar Trumpist/populist "alt-right" complaints about lack of economic success in small-town America and lack of help from "government" — at the same time, and expressing resentment at being classed as a neo-Nazi and treated with condescension, any time he or she expresses such sentiments.

I am independently archiving all Reddit threads of interest, because clueless management at that service took, starting 2023, user-abusing turns inspired by those of Elon Musk at Twitter.com. I suspect neither platform will last much longer, and so wish to shake the dust of both from my shoes entirely. This comment's original can be found, for now, at https://np.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/6tf5cr/the_altrights_chickens_come_home_to_roost/dlkal3j/?context=3 .]

Xxyxx098 initially wrote:

Tell me what I'm supposed to do, because no matter what I try, I'm left with the same result.

I grew up in a rural town. Extremely rural. In what some would label as a "flyover state."

This is my home. Small-town America is forgotten by government. Left to rot in the Rust Belt, until I'm forced to move away. Why should it be like that? Why should I have to uproot my whole life because every single opportunity has dried up here by no fault of my own?

I lean right. I can't hardly take it anymore. I can't have an opinion without being framed as a Nazi. I condemn the Charlottesville white nationalists and terrorism. I can't say anything, because my opinion doesn't matter, because some I'm "Dumbfuck Trump voter from a flyover state."

I stand the silent majority of right-leaning citizens who condemn white nationalism and domestic terrorism. I want there to be respectful discourse. I don't want there to be discourse when insults are jeered towards me for no fault of my own. I don't compare the left to the BLM supporters who tortured a disabled man in Chicago in every breath; I'd appreciate the same respect.

I've been respectful. Doesn't work.

Tried to compromise. Doesn't work.

What am I supposed to do?

hetellsitlikeitis replied to Xxyxx098:

I'll give you an honest answer: it's meant in good faith, but it's hard to answer something like "why do people always insult me and people like me?" without risking coming across as insulting...so bear that in mind.

The tl;dr here is that when you simultaneously claim to have the kinds of complaints you have — small town rotting away, etc. — while also claiming to be right-leaning, you basically come across as either (a) disingenuous, (b) hypocritical, or (c) lacking insight...and neither (a), nor (b), nor (c) is a good look, really.

The reason you come across that way is because the Right — generally on the side of individual responsibility and free-market, yadda-yadda — already has answers for you:

It's not the government's place to pick winners and losers — that's what the free market is for! The opportunities are drying up in your town because the free market has found better opportunities elsewhere. Moreover, take some personal responsibility! No one forced you to stay there and watch your town rot away — you, yourself, are the one who freely chose to do that, no? Why didn't you take some responsibility for yourself, precisely? Moreover — and more importantly — if your town is that important to you, why didn't you take responsibility for your town? Did you try to start a business to increase local prosperity? Did you get involved in town governance and go soliciting outside investment? Or did you simply keep waiting for someone else to fix things?

These aren't necessarily nice things to tell you — I get that — but nevertheless they are the answers the principles of the Right lead to, if you actually apply them to you and your situation, no?

Thus why you risk coming across poorly: Perhaps you are being (a) — disingenuous — and you don't actually believe what you claim to believe, but find it rhetorically useful? Perhaps you are being (b) — hypocritical — and you believe what you claim to believe, but only for other people, not yourself? Or perhaps you are simply (c) — uninsightful — and don't even understand the things you claim to believe well enough to apply them in your own situation?

In general, if someone thinks you're either (a), (b), or (c) — whether consciously or not — they're going to take a negative outlook to you: seeing you as disingenuous or hypocritical means seeing you as participating in a discussion in bad faith, whereas seeing you as simply lacking insight means seeing you as someone running their mouth.

In practice, I think a lot of people see this and get very frustrated — at least subconsciously — because your complaints make you come across as more left-leaning economically than you may realize...but — at least often — people like you still self-identify as right-leaning for cultural reasons. So, you also get a bit of a "we should be political allies...but we can't, b/c you value your cultural identity more than your economics (and in fact don't even seem to apply your own economic ideas to yourself)".

A related issue is due to the fact that, overall, rural, low-density areas are already significantly over-represented at all levels of government — this is obvious at the Federal level, and it's also generally true within each state (in terms of the state-level reps, and so on).

You may still feel as if "government has forgotten you" — I can understand and sympathize with the position — but if government has forgotten you, whose fault is that? Your general demographic has had outsized representation for longer than you, personally, have been alive — and the trend is actually going increasingly in your general demographic's direction due to aggressive state-level gerrymandering efforts, etc. — and so, once again: if you — the collective "you", that is — have been "forgotten" it's no one's fault but yours — the collective "yours"!

This, too, leads to a certain natural condescension: If you have been overrepresented forever and can't prevent being "forgotten by government", the likeliest situation is simply that the collective "you" is simply incompetent — unable to use even outsized, disproportionate representation to achieve their own goals, whether due to asking for impossible things or being unwise in deciding how to vote.

This point can become a particular source of rancor due to the way that that overrepresentation pans out: The rural overrepresentation means that anything the Left wants already faces an uphill climb — it has to overcome the "rural veto"! — and I think you can understand why that would be frustrating: "It's always the over-represented rural areas voting against what we want, only to turn around and complain about how they feel ignored by government"...you're not ignored — at all! — It's just that your aggregate actions reveal your aggregate priorities are maybe not what you, individually, think they are.

I think that's enough: Continually complaining in ways that are inconsistent with professed beliefs combined with continually claiming about being unable to get government to do what you want, despite being substantially over-represented?

Not a good look.

What am I supposed to do?

Overall I'd say if you really care about your town, you should take more responsibility for it. If you aren't involved in your city council or county government, yet, why aren't you? You can run for office, of course, or you can just research the situation for yourself.

Do you understand your town and county finances — the operating and maintenance costs of its infrastructure and the sources of revenue (tax base, etc)? Do you have a working understanding of what potential employers consider when evaluating a location to build a factory (etc.), or are you just assuming you do?

If your town has tried and failed to lure outside investment, have you tried to find out why it failed — e.g. "what would it have taken to make us the winner?" — or are you, again, assuming you understand?

I would focus on that — you can't guarantee anything will actually lead to getting the respect you want, but generally your odds of being respected are a lot better if you've done things to earn respect...simply asking for respect — and complaining about not being respected — rarely works well.