This is a wonderfully written exposition of what has happened in rural America. But I would like to point out two things that the author doesn’t discuss.
First, I don’t believe that ALL of rural America is in decline. My observation is that those who own property (farmers and ranchers) are often prospering. It’s the people in the small towns, who have to live by selling their labor, who have become the rural poor. Nevertheless, both seem to be under the sway of the demagogue.
Second, it is the history of this country, of most of our families, and of me personally, that when there is no way to make a living where you are, you move on. This seems to have been forgotten. Most of our immigrant ancestors came here to escape poverty in their homeland. Most of our families scattered across the continent looking for a piece of land or a better job. And the place where I grew up, and loved, had no job for me. So I moved on. Anyone who feels that they are entitled to a good job, wherever they happen to be, is bound to be eternally disappointed. Leaving the known for the unknown can be a wrenching experience, but people do it every day.