It’s hard to know what to say these days since the election tore up the rules of what’s appropriate and abolished political correctness.

“Do you take Trump literally or figuratively?” is one way to jump-start a conversation post-election at a bar or in a support group or at the gym. Like a discussion about what came first, the chicken or the egg, there’s no wrong answer.

Take the time, for instance, that President-elect Donald Trump said, “I love the poorly educated,” before winning over large swaths of rural working-class white voters who never attended college and are drowning in the swamp. Trump’s love for them is literal, and the affection mutual. As The Atlantic reported recently, it was America’s educational divide that put Trump in the White House. People who went to college were least likely to vote for him.

“The proportion of people who held a bachelor’s degree or higher was the primary correlate in how a county voted, far more than how much money the average townsperson made, or how many had lost a job,” reporter Andrew McGill concluded, “even controlling for race and income, the concentration of college degrees was the strongest indicator of whether a county would back the Republican.”

Does the use of the term “uneducated” offend you? Oh well. The shoe’s on the other foot now. The educated minority is free to tell it like it is and be “authentic,” so here it goes: Rural America is screwed.

Only about 30 percent of people in the U.S. have college degrees. Those with degrees are paid 74 percent more than those with only a high school degree and are likely to live on the East or West Coast.


Besides building a wall and deporting immigrants, Trump ran on an aggressive plan to lower corporate income tax rates to 15 percent even though corporate taxes used to fund between 25 and 30 percent of government operations, compared to 10 percent today. To the chagrin of the “conservative” majority of the country who voted for Trump, the U.S. tax system as a whole is literally progressive. The top 0.1 percent of families pay the equivalent of 39.2 percent, and the bottom 20 percent have negative tax rates. (That is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes.)

The hard truth is that the “educated” in America who voted for Clinton are a wealthy minority who pay the majority of the taxes the Republican Trump vows to cut. This is what making America great again means. Literally.

Democrats are suffering, of course. The loss was figuratively huge, and now too much precious time is being wasted trying to answer rhetorical questions and pondering irrational coincidences, like why the guys who won the election are still peddling baseless voter fraud conspiracies to the masses that they hoodwinked in the hinterlands.

It’s a curse to know rural America got snookered by people spotted for a few weeks in July and August who call what they are doing in Maine “summering.” These are the same people who call what they do on Wall Street “making boatloads of cash off the backs of poor people.” Literally.

Take Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary. He’s an impressive investment banker from Goldman Sachs who later became a hedge fund manager and made a fortune buying and selling a troubled bank and foreclosing on 36,000 homes. He took a big risk on the housing crisis, and his “foreclosure machine” earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, plus a $10.9 million severance payment on top of that. With time and money on his hands, he landed the job as Trump’s finance director and now will run the U.S. Treasury.

The people who voted for Trump and are therefore responsible for Mnuchin’s post to the Cabinet are the people who lost their homes and family wealth in the Great Recession because of the housing crisis. Middle-class family wealth fell by 28 percent from 2001 to 2013. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4 percent less than in 2000.


Educated coastal people feel bad about the election because it was disgusting, but not nearly as bad as the people who voted for change figuratively will feel when they get short-changed literally in the coming months and years. Future outcomes for poor rural families without an education are bleak.

Trump and Gov. Paul LePage claim without an iota of evidence they are champions of the rural poor and that the election results giving Trump the presidency are not accurate. It’s a type of intellectual puzzle too few in this country have the luxury to contemplate.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: dillesquire

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