Your photographs are amazing. They are profoundly sad and beautiful in a way.
I’ve lived through this decline as well but suburban. And, yes, I had an advantage, I enrolled in community college for $47 a credit and got an education.
These people you describe are actually similar, in many ways, to the working class urban white people I grew up with in the Levittown New York of the 1960s.
They too were floating on post war prosperity. But that risen sea was temporary. Our competitors had blown themselves up, the defense industry was in high gear fighting the cold war and our government provided heavy subsidies to them in tax breaks and loan guarantees. Also actual and de-facto race based policies kept millions of people out of the competition for jobs, schools and housing. Without an education all of this would be invisible to them.
But I do remember them as angry, suspicious, deeply racist, misogynist (I witnessed a few wife beatings in my time), and profoundly anti-education then as well as now. People don’t change. The only difference is that we are hearing from them now.
When African-Americans were systematically and intentionally disenfranchised from our system they gave us Martin Luther King. When you get disenfranchised because things change you give us Donald Trump.
If there was anything that I took away from my youth was that the more someone invoked Jesus the less Christian they probably were and the more someone waves the American flag the less American they probably were.
These flag waving Americans have failed or were failed and they want someone else to pay. They are telling us if they can’t have it then no one will so they are voting to take down America with the orange man at the helm.