Hillbilly Huntin'

By Marc Dion

July 17, 2017 5 min read

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency with the votes of people who have never been to a Whole Foods, American writers and reporters have been hillbilly huntin'.

If you work for a big city newspaper with a national circulation, or a magazine that prints cartoons that aren't funny, chances are your editor didn't think Trump was going to win. This is because your editor didn't know people in Oklahoma were allowed to vote.

Now, desperate to connect with what they think is Trump's base, editors are sending reporters to every hill and holler they can find.

"Wilson," the editor says to his top reporter. "I want you to go to one of those Trump places and capture the anguish of the white working class."

"Trump places?" the reporter asks.

"Yeah," the editor says. "Alatucky. Arkansissippi. Somewhere down there in the chewing tobacco belt."

"What do you want?" the reporter says.

"I want 50,000 words on the anguish of poor white people," the editor says. "You know — Oxycontin, stretch pants, toothlessness. I want the whole dern shootin' match!"

"I'd be much obliged to help you," the reporter says.

"Take a photographer," the editor says. "When you get down there, tell him I want a picture of a car rusting in somebody's front yard, and a main street full of empty storefronts.

"Interview at least one single mother named Amber," the editor says. "And I'm gonna need one skinny pill head named Wayne, and at least one old, retired coal miner.

"Don't interview the old coal miner unless he's using an oxygen tank AND smoking a menthol cigarette," the editor says. "Don't go into anybody's house unless it's a mobile home or can be described as a 'shack.'"

"I'll go to one of those churches where people roll on the floor and yell, 'I sees Jayzus!'" the reporter says.

"That's IT!" the editor shouts. "I'm gonna need a picture of a 4-year-old boy wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt and holding a rifle, a big one."

"I'll talk to at least one social worker who was born there and is trying to help 'her people,'" the reporter says.

"Absolutely," the editor whoops. "And I need at least one guy named Jimmy who lives in an abandoned school bus out in the woods.

"Don't worry about being politically correct, either," the editor continues. "You write about the ghetto, you better write 'African-American.' You write about these people, you can write words like 'hillbilly' and 'redneck.'"

Two days later, the reporter and photographer, carrying emergency rations of artisan bread and bottled spring water, arrive in the town of Lonesome Pony, Missitucky.

"It's just like it was in my dreams," the photographer croons, taking a picture of a sign in a store window that reads "Frech Fish Fer Sal."

"The misty hollers around Lonesome Pony once rang with the hammers of coal miners," the reporter begins his story. "Now, there is only the heavy-lidded glance of Wayne, a self-described 'pill head' who represents a town broken, not so much by hard times, as by the poisonous votes people here cast for Donald J. Trump.

"Another misty day dawns on the misty hollers around Lonesome Pony," the reporter ends his story. "Amber and Wayne shuffle off to find another day's oblivion. Soon, it will be winter, another winter of NASCAR, missed trailer payments, Oxycontin, and the misty hope that Trump can bring back the mines."

The national press still doesn't understand the anguish of poor whites, but, by God, they're trying.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin'" is a collection of his honest, argumentative columns from the last presidential election. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.

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