Fishtown, inhabited by whites with at most a high school diploma, and Belmont, home to Ivy League-educated professionals, are the names Charles Murray gave to two different kinds of communities delineated his classic 2011 book Coming Apart: The State of White America.
So how's the 2016 presidential campaign playing in Fishtown and Belmont?
Niall Ferguson raises this interesting question in an article in the Boston Globe:
. . . Murray’s disgruntled white lower class has now found its “voice” and his name, as you have probably guessed, is Donald Trump. The declining, dangerous country that Trump described in his supposedly “dark” acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was Fishtown writ large. Indeed, you could simply change the names. For Fishtown read Cleveland; for Belmont read Philadelphia, where the Democrats held their convention last week.
Viewed from Belmont, everything is awesome. President Obama’s speech on Wednesday was a masterpiece of self-congratulation. He proclaimed his “faith in America — the generous, big-hearted, hopeful country that made my story.” He celebrated the United States of Diversity. And he insisted that “every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago … America is already great. America is already strong.”
Though mostly a hatchet job on Trump, Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech offered a further helping of this Kool-Aid: “We have the most dynamic and diverse people in the world. … America is great because America is good.”
The people of Fishtown, on the other hand, have experienced stagnant or falling incomes (81 percent, according to a new report by McKinsey) and are seeing health problems and premature death. They know they are disdained by the elites, who dismiss them as ignoramuses who would be voting Democrat if it weren't for their stupid fixation on gays, guns, and God (the third defined as backward views on abortion).
Ferguson, who believed that Fishtown could carry Donald Trump to victory, was writing when Trump was up in the polls in key states, before Trump's attack on a Muslim family whose soldier son had died in service to the U.S. Trump's missteps probably gave Belmont a leg up going into the final 99 days before the election. I find it hard not to sympathizemuch more with the looked-down-upon men and women of Fishtown.