Pennsylvania Democrats must consider the opinions of ‘unhyphenated Americans’

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AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Brian Kennedy, a candidate campaign volunteer, wears his “I Voted” sticker next to his American flag pin as he greets voters Tuesday outside a polling station in Evans City, Pennsylvania.

When voting ended late Tuesday night, it seemed so John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro won their elections, I bet many Democrats had similar thoughts—our triumph means we can ignore Republican sentiments, which are riddled with anti-democratic, racist, sexist, and homophobic ideals.

While Pennsylvanian Democrats can celebrate the state is likely to remain a haven for women and girls across the country receive abortion benefits and offer Protection For LGBTQ+ people, Democrats cannot ignore every Republican position. Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz many supporters don’t share all blatant hatred physical autonomy and identity expression. Rather, many rightly feel that the Democratic Party does not recognize the struggles of rural Americans.

Many without a hyphen Americans – Americans who identify solely as “Americans” and not as American descendants of any other ethnicity, such as Americans. Irish American, African American, or Asian American—live in the Appalachian Mountains region of Pennsylvania. Your lack of a qualifier before American tends to display a strong sense of patriotism and American identity.

These Americans often live in rural or southern regions, are white and have less education. Unhyphenated Americans for the past 30 years have postponed their support from the Democrats – the traditional party of the working class – to the Republicans. Well, they’re what many of us think of when we picture the average Republican supporter.

Today, as the ideals of more Republican candidates are derived from Trump, it’s important to understand the history of the Appalachia region and what it means Trumpism.

before the civil war American natives mostly populated Appalachia. Large numbers of Irish immigrants after the war done in these cities. By working in coal mines, even without college education, they were able to achieve the American dream – raise a family and buy a house and land.

In the early 1920s, people outside the region began a tale of Appalaichains—that they are ignorant, lazy, and gun loving. This not only alienated the Appalachia from the townspeople, but also helped the coal companies justify the exploitation of their workers and the land on which they survived.

Politicians neglected the needs of Appalachia – the region lacked the funding for schools, infrastructure and reparations for destroyed public works. This frustration culminated in a generational disappointment with state and federal support.

When the coal companies had exhausted as much coal as possible, they deserted the region and left Many are unemployed and do not feel equipped to adapt in the rapidly changing world. There was no longer an abundance of jobs to support a family without a college education.

While the Democratic Party preached Diversity and inclusion of all people, many unhyphenated Americans felt left out of that vision. On the other hand, Republicans recognized the untapped voting potential to address this group.

The 2016 election was both a Peak and an exacerbation of this trend, which helped Donald Trump win the presidency. His rhetoric, which we know only too well – Bring back coal jobs to “Make America Great Again” – appeals to unhyphenated Americans who are generally neglected in the political arena. Instead of feeling like the world has passed them by, they have suddenly been drawn into the vision for America’s future.

Compared to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee who refers to unhyphenated Americans as “unfortunate” backed by a seemingly charismatic billionaire Their concerns appealed more to these voters — despite his inclination towards racism, sexism and homophobia. The reality is, if we look at the origin of unhyphenated Americans’ dislike of the government, many of them accept Trumpism for reasons other than Democrats denounce it. Many support his ideology, not because of his hateful ideals, but in spite of it.

While not much has changed for unhyphenated Americans during Trump’s presidency, the ideals of Trumpism are still thriving. He used their history of exploitation to gain support. Maybe unhyphenated Americans realized that, maybe not. But maybe that didn’t matter because they felt supported for the first time in a long time. They felt they had a place in American politics. Regardless of identity, isn’t that how we all want to feel?

Many of us think of these unhyphenated Republican voters as uneducated, white Americans who seem disconnected from reality. Rather, they vote for what they think would help support their family and keep them healthy and safe, the same things we all want. By accepting these commonalities, we can begin to respect one another and resolve issues that affect us all.

As residents of Pittsburgh—which borders Appalachia—we have a particular responsibility to address the concerns of unhyphenated Americans in the policies and programs we support because they are our neighbors and fellow Pennsylvanians.

So how are we progressing? How do we separate hatred from mere demands for change? We can start to improve the often neglected infrastructure. This looks like schools in Appalachia are being provided with adequate resources and investing in projects to rehabilitate roads and homes destroyed by natural disasters.

We need to start listening to the needs and wants of the Appalachians instead of letting people from outside the region infiltrate and dictate what they need. We cannot ignore their needs because sometimes they support politicians who express racist feelings but consider their circumstances and incorporate their needs into a vision for the future.

And as a society Moving away from fossil fuelsthat will exit the coal industry that Appalachia was built around, our leaders need to create a plan to include these people in the workforce in other ways, rather than simply excluding them.

As Democrats better understand the Appalachian story of political isolation and neglect, they can begin to have some sympathy and work to find common ground and find better, more inclusive solutions for all people.

Talia Spillerman writes about anything and everything. Write to her [email protected]

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