Yesterday we looked at how the rate of premature deaths are higher in red counties than blue counties. This morning a trio of Wall Street Journal reporters, keeping it non-partisan, noted that the murder rate in rural America-- Trump country-- is through the roof.
Take White County, Arkansas, the first county they looked at. In 2020 78.3% of the voters picked Trump and only 45% of the residents are fully vaccinated, significantly lower than the state level, which is abysmally low to begin with. "Murder rates across the rural U.S.," they wrote, "have soared during the pandemic, data show, bringing the kind of extreme violence long associated with major metropolises to America’s smallest communities. Homicide rates in rural America rose 25% in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the largest rural increase since the agency began tracking such data in 1999...close to the 30% spike in homicide rates in metropolitan areas in 2020."
County sheriffs are trying to hire more deputies. Small-town prosecutors, unaccustomed to handling numerous homicides cases, find themselves overwhelmed with them.
...[T]he reasons for the rising violence are hard to pinpoint. They speculate that the breakdown of deeply rooted social connections that bind together many small communities, coupled with the stress of the pandemic, played a role.
astors point to the suspension of rituals such as in-person church services, town gatherings and everyday exchanges between neighbors. Such interactions can serve as guardrails, helping to prevent conflicts from turning violent. The psychological and financial stress due to isolation and job loss were especially pronounced in remote areas, where social services were limited even before Covid-19 struck, local leaders say.
As the pandemic took hold in the spring of 2020, fights between family members, acquaintances and even strangers escalated more frequently into deadly confrontations, authorities in some rural counties said.
...Veteran law-enforcement officials said they had never before witnessed the level of violence of the past two years.
“It was like people lost their ever-lovin’ minds,” said Ms. McCoy, the prosecuting attorney in White County, a dry county in central Arkansas with poultry farms and a Christian university.
Atlantic writer Peter Wehner is no Trump fan and yesterday he noted that the illegitimate former White House occupant acts the way he does-- borderless corruptions and disordered personality-- because in him there is no ethical line to be broken, just a vindictive man with no moral boundaries."
"But," he wrote, "the story of the Trump presidency isn’t only about the corruptions and delusions of one man; it’s also about the party he represents. Trump recast the Republican Party, of which I was long a proud member, in his image. His imprint on the GOP is, in important respects, even greater than Ronald Reagan’s, despite Reagan being a successful two-term president."
His supporters-- primarily white, mean rural and small town American failed human beings laden with grievances, anger and a desire for revenge, too ignorant to recognize Trump for what anyone with a 3 digit IQ sees immediately. "It was bad enough," wrote Wehner, "that many Republicans were complicit in Trump’s wrongdoings when he was president; that they continue to be complicit 17 months after Trump left the presidency is an even more damning indictment. They’ve continued to embrace Trump even though he’s a loser.
The sheer scale of Donald Trump’s depravity is unmatched in the history of the American presidency, and the Republican Party-- the self-described party of law and order and “constitutional conservatives,” of morality and traditional values, of patriotism and Lee Greenwood songs-- made it possible. It gave Trump cover when he needed it. It attacked his critics when he demanded it. It embraced his nihilistic ethic. It amplified his lies. When House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy-- a man who for a few fleeting hours after the January 6 insurrection dared to speak critically of Donald Trump-- traveled to Mar-a-Lago a few days later to kiss his ring, it was an act of self-abasement that was representative of his party, his morally desolate party.
Make no mistake: Republicans are the co-creators of Trump’s corrupt and unconstitutional enterprise. The great majority of them are still afraid to break fully with him. They consider those who have, like Liz Cheney, to be traitors to the party. They hate Cheney because she continues to hold up a mirror to them. They want to look away. She won’t let them.
Perhaps the most withering sentences of Cheney’s extraordinary presentation last night were these: “Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
Those in the Republican Party and on the American right who defended Trump and continue to do so-- who went silent in the face of his transgressions, who rationalized their weakness, who went along for the ride for the sake of power-- must know, deep in their hearts, that what she said is true. And it will always be true.
Their dishonor is indelible.