Marshall Sahlins in Counterpunch:
The journalist and author Sam Quinones became aware of it even before the 2016 election, when he saw those Trump/Pence yard signs all over opioid country. Within days of Trump’s electoral victory, he published the disturbing story, as did the historian Kathleen Frydl under the apt title, “The Oxy Electorate.”
Donald Trump did very well, much better than Mitt Romney had in 2012, in the areas hardest hit by a raging drug epidemic. Indeed, one could describe the main opioid victims in exactly the same demographic terms that pundits use to characterize the core of Trump’s electoral support: non-Hispanic, mostly working-class whites without a college education living in rural areas and small cities. The opioid and Trump addictions, the one individual and the other collective, are symptoms of the same malaise.
For one, they are driven by sane powerful economic forces, gainfully employed in afflicting a vulnerable population. The rapacious, unregulated capitalism of the kind that now shapes the Trump agenda prepared the ground of the opioid crisis in Appalachia, the Midwest Rust Belt, and elsewhere by engendering the inequalities and hardships that drive so many to despair.