After President Donald Trump’s victory last year, not a few journalists traveled to the hinterland to find out just where were those disenchanted white folks who voted Republican. Who were these people and was it possible to get inside their heads?
The Washington Post has come out with three lengthy pieces about these folks, one of which was set in Grundy, Va., a town I stayed in six years ago when I was researching serpent-handling Pentecostals (which also ran in the Post). This section of Appalachia is where a lot of these believers live. The photo with this story is one I took in a town in Tazewell County, Va., just down the road from Grundy and where one in six working-age residents are on disability.
Would this series, I wondered, mention the faith that sustains many of these residents, who have little else in life to live for? The answer, I found, was yes and no.
The first part of the series, set in Alabama, focused on the stunning percentage of adults who are on disability across the country.
Across large swaths of the country, disability has become a force that has reshaped scores of mostly white, almost exclusively rural communities, where as many as one-third of working-age adults live on monthly disability checks, according to a Washington Post analysis of Social Security Administration statistics…
The decision to apply, in many cases, is a decision to effectively abandon working altogether. For the severely disabled, this choice is, in essence, made for them. But for others, it’s murkier. Aches accumulate. Years pile up. Job prospects diminish.