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I Know Why Rural Americans Voted For Donald Trump

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Donald Trump supporters listen to the Republican presidential candidate during a rally at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center on April 21, 2016. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The whole world appears to be in shock after Trump's unexpected victory. Not sure if there's any point saying this now, but I had a feeling that this was coming.

I'm afraid that what I'm about to say here would make some of you upset: I have lived in a place that made me understand what it was like to live through the time of Kristallnacht or in the Jim Crow South. Ironically, it was the place that taught me how Trump supporters think and behave.

Let's face it: Trump enjoyed huge support from American rural communities. Regardless of what Canadians from rural communities think of themselves, my experience tells me that they are not much different from their American counterparts. Same music, same wheels, same worldview. Much of it is the same.

Most of all, they don't feel ashamed of what they are. Rather, they feel proud of it.

More often than not, these rural communities I've been to are impenetrable to anyone who is new to them. I am not only talking about immigrants or people of colour. The same could happen to white people as well. Some of them have lived in their community for generations. It is a community that is made not just by people sharing the same worldview, but people sharing the same blood. Nothing can break this tie so easily.

Because these communities are close-knit are active in organizing community events, they often get together and socialize. And if they find one of theirs experiencing troubles with the authority, or from outsiders, they get together and defend them fiercely, no matter what.

Many of people who are fortunate to live in large, diverse communities like Ottawa or Toronto since childhood may be unaware of this phenomenon. But the effort to cherish and celebrate this sort of rural, us against them worldview seems to have been ongoing for many years now.

TV shows that celebrate self-proclaimed "redneck culture" have gone viral on many occasions. Country music videos now portray brandishing assault rifles in public or driving gas-guzzling pickup trucks as "cool." It's not something that you should feel embarrassed of. Rather, it's something that you should feel proud of doing.

When they are surrounded by people who are either their family or neighbours sharing the same worldview, with their culture and beliefs being validated by the media and in entertainment, it is unlikely that they will be open to ideas that people on the other side are representing.

But most of all, they don't feel ashamed of what they are. Rather, they feel proud of it.

As you see, this is already an incredibly strong platform for building political support. Now, when this platform is imbued with anxiety, fear and hate, it can provide a volcanic synergy for a political movement. That is what exactly happened in this election.

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