KTA South Images

I followed up on my summer 2016 kNOw THEM America cross-country bicycle trip in the months after after the 2016 election that widened the divide between Red and Blue America. I set out to have meaningful face-to-face interactions with Trump supporters by cycling across the Southern United States. While their politics are very different from my own, I sought to better understand their motivations and perspectives. I found that their political priorities are largely related to their personal and economic living situations. “Make America Great Again” spoke to a large portion of Americans not because of nostalgia, but because of a real desire to lift their communities from the hollowed out shells of what they once were. People who remember supporting their family with one steady job now can’t make ends meet holding down two or more low-wage jobs. And while some Trump supporters have issues with tolerance of diversity, it’s unfair and completely inaccurate to generalize or lump them together as a monolithic group. Progressives often look on Trump supporters with complete disdain and THEMification as racists, sexists, and idiots, completely dismissing them rather than seeking a more nuanced understanding. We cannot afford to disregard the very real crises many Americans find themselves in if we want to begin to address this country’s increasingly dysfunctional and dangerous political and cultural polarization.