We agree with columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. that J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” is a “compelling and compassionate portrait of people politicians seldom address.” [“Trumps sees the invisible,” Opinion, Aug. 28]. We also agree that this otherwise superb book is flawed in its “near-silence on his kinsmen’s attitudes about race.”
What we do not agree with is Pitts’ contention that Donald Trump “sees” the kind of people Vance writes about. Trump may express attitudes they respond to. They may eat up his tough talk, his unapologetic placing of American interests before all others, his disdain for political correctness, his thinly veiled suggestions that the real America is white America and the baseball cap that is part of his uniform. On the evidence of Vance’s book, they might even approve of his multiple wives.
To throw red meat to people is not to demonstrate empathy with them. Where has Trump demonstrated understanding of the lives of his supporters? Where has he shown that he cares about them enough to spell out policies that might truly address these lives? Pitts could have gone back into recent history for examples of leaders who have done this much better. Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton come to mind.
Michael and Beret Kischner, Seattle
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