The standard account points to economic problems among the working class, but the root was a cultural collapse. While the educated and wealthy elites still enjoy strong communities, most blue-collar Americans lack strong institutions that bind them to their neighbors. And outside of the elites, the central American institution has been religion. That is, it is not the factory closings that have torn us apart; it is the church closings. The dissolution of our most cherished institutions — nuclear families, places of worship, and civic organizations — has not only divided us, but eroded our sense of worth, belief in opportunity, and connection to one another.
In Alienated America, Timothy P. Carney visits all corners of America, from the dim country bars of Southwestern Pennsylvania to the bustling Mormon wards of Salt Lake City, and examines the most important data and research to demonstrate how social connection is the great divide in America. He shows that Trump’s surprising victory was the most visible symptom of this deep-seated problem. In addition to his detailed exploration of how a range of societal changes have, in tandem, damaged us, Carney provides a framework that will lead us back out of a lonely, modern wilderness.