Appealing to the Rust Belt and Appalachian Voter-Trump and the Rhetoric of Nostalgia and Race

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Stephen Wilhoit


This paper looks at Donald Trump's rhetoric of nostalgia and how it influencedvoting within Appalachia and the Rust Belt. I argue that many voters within the tworegions-often colloquialized as spiritual "others" within the United States-exemplify adesire for a past time in which they were of extreme importance to the country's industry,culture, and politics and how they influence the structure of modern day politicalcampaigns. In 2016, both regions became the target of Donald Trump's popular messageto "Make America Great Again" in which he promised to stimulate their economiesthrough deregulation, new trade deals, and a reversal of numerous energy policies madeby President Barack Obama and presidents before him. I argue that the politics of raceand populism, as well as the rhetoric of nostalgia, play extremely important roles in howAppalachia and the Rust Belt vote and that the 2016 election created both a newlyreinvigorated interest in politics and a step back into anachronistic beliefs of xenophobia,racism, and distrust in the system.


Rhetoric, Nostalgia, Race, Politics, Trump, Rust Belt, Appalachia, Rhetoric

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