Sociology Reflection Essay

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The working class Americans voted for Donald Trump overwhelmingly and they still continue to approve of his presidency despite his various policies that seem to contradict the overall wellbeing of the people. For instance, despite his fashion of the healthcare bill that disproportionally hurts them, the Americans still highly approve of him as president. In political continuum, the educated faction often leans on the Democratic side even when in many instances, the Republican side proposes tax policies that would benefit them more economically. Such is the intricate nature of the seemingly unfathomable behavior of people where they often support policies or political sides that hurt their wellbeing. This observation is what leads Arlie Hochschild to ask why people do vote against their best interests.

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Hochschild as a well-known sociologist takes time to dive into the most vexing question that has perplexed people to date. The author seeks to explore why the Americans are so polarized, despite the constitutional freedoms that they enjoy. The residents of Louisiana, who are also deeply conservative are divided in a similar manner, as the less privileged, less educated, wealthy and having poorer health live amid the more industrial polluted areas. In recent years, the people have had a chance to choose a political candidate that supports their well-being, but they supported those candidates that are against their own interests. Thus, like many other people, this book elicits a sense of wonder and disbelief, that people are living as strangers in their homeland, and continue to support the very circumstances that continue to overwhelm their wellbeing socially, healthiest and economically.

In writing the book, she interviewed several key people, both the residents and local leaders, as well as, the political entities such as supporters of the Tea Party. The book focuses on the core of six areas, but is able to give the broader understanding and reflection of the community. Thus, from this perspective, I like the approach Hochschild takes in exploring this very difficult subject, with expertise. I particularly like the context of the book, as it focuses on the idea that if we really are in favor of protecting the environment, averting the global warming crisis and ending homelessness, poor health, and poverty, then it is imperative to understand the role of the government in supporting these efforts. The government, in this case, is presented as the very “line cutter” supporter which continues to promote the status quo and facilitate the oppression that the people face.

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The book is very timely especially coming in the age of the Trump administration. Trump is a Republican and holds various beliefs such as changing the policies on social services and support on crucial programs like the healthcare bill. However, despite the disaster facing Louisiana and the very cries for the federal relief. Hochschild helps the public to realize that these people have an underlying psychological issue that prevents them from taking the required positive measures and selecting soliciting the political goodwill to help them overcome these social issues. For instance, speaking to Harold Areno, who is a pipefitter, his family has suffered the effect of the petrochemical plant pollution as it caused them cancer. However, he is not interested in enlisting for government support in seeking justice. These are harrowing revelations that are very surprising and shocking in my view. I cannot bring myself to understand how a person in their right mind, has the opportunity to find support and justice, but still refuses to take that chance. Despite the very evident devastating effects, the author enlightens my understanding on the mental frailty of these people as they live in a fantasy state of mind.

In general, as Hochschild started in the text seeking to understand the disconnection between the conservative voters and their social and economic self-interest. However, as she realizes in the course of her fact-finding, she realized it is an emotional self-interest. As the mood during the Trump political rally reveals, the people are a force to recon and they are not strangers after all to their situation. The book is very interesting and helps the readers to relate to the reality of social differences that influence the political decisions the people make. There is nothing about the book that is annoying, rather, it only elicits feelings of empathy for the people that are suffering and do not realize the need to take measures to end their social challenges. I tend to feel both anger and pity for these people, as they seemingly are very ignorant of the essence of having quality healthcare, a clean environment, and social amenities. They say they are seeking the “American Dream” like other Americans. However, they are still making retrogressive steps and decisions.

Nonetheless, irrespective of the feelings I have towards these people, I believe the author Hochschild, covered the key points that help understand the situation of the Louisiana people, and in a broader context, the challenges facing many communities in America and even in developing countries.

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