Donald Trump dominated Appalachia on Election Day, 2016, and he wasted no time in loosening regulations on the region’s coal industry. In the big picture, however, the regulatory shifts mean an extension of the status quo.
His proposed budget, however, which would gut the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, the USDA’s infrastructure budget and other programs crucial to economic development efforts, may well wipe out any job gains from the coal industry.
For Vice, I tried to sort out the impact of federal actions on Appalachia under Trump. Read it here.
Donald Trump’s 2016 election win put an exclamation point on two decades worth of political shift from Democrat to Republican in Appalachia. Except for urban centers and a few notable exceptions, Democrats have essentially been wiped from the map in the region.
Now, in an ever increasingly polarized political environment, can they make up ground by using the new president as a foil?
I looked at the early signs in 2017 for 100 Days in Appalachia. Read it here.
Donald Trump’s election as president shocked and electrified America. But what does his election signify for America’s wildlands?
Environmentalists predict disasterous consequences for public lands and beyond. But outdoor sports groups are surprisingly optimistic.
Find out why in my story at Blue Ridge Outdoors.
When the billionaire entered the primary, longtime politicos scoffed. He had no political experience, had switched parties repeatedly over the previous decades, and had a spotty track record in business. Yet he vanquished his establishment candidates in the primary and headed into the general election running an unorthodox campaign based around his personality.
It’s not Donald Trump, of course, but Jim Justice, West Virginia’s only billionaire and owner of the Greenbrier Resort and the largest privately held coal company east of the Mississippi River. Justice stands as a figure simultaneously beloved—he coaches high-school basketball and bailed out the historic Greenbrier when it faced potential closure—and reviled, as his coal company has developed a reputation for not paying debts, taxes or environmental obligations.
Read more about Justice, his Republican opponent Bill Cole, and what may be the weirdest undercard election in America at Politico Magazine.
Growing up 20 minutes from Lexington, Va., and its numerous links to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, I’ve always had a fascination for the mutable meaning of the Confederate battle flag and its convergence of ancestry, race, history, politics & more.
That meaning has shifted again in the year since Charleston, those right on the edge of the flag debate have escalated the conflict, heightening contradictions and putting the flag back in the news on numerous occasions around the South & the rest of the country.
In this story for Politico Magazine, I tried to take a meaningful look at how the past year has changed the fight over the rebel flag, as well as how that all slots into an already crazy election year.
Read the story here.
The May 2016 election marked the end of an era in Roanoke politics, and the start of something new.
I wrote about the election for Blue Ridge Outdoors within the context of Roanoke’s transformation over the last couple of decades, from a deteriorating industrial center into the next great outdoors city.
Read “Roanoke Reinvented” in Blue Ridge Outdoors.
As Super Tuesday approached, voters prepared to cast their votes in presidential primaries around the South as analysts struggled to understand the appeal of Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump.
My story for Politico Magazine, “Why the South Is Rebelling Again,” examined the role of globalization and the loss of factory jobs in generating small-town and rural anger that has propelled Trump’s rise. It features John Bassett III (hero of the upcoming HBO series “Factory Man”), Beth Macy (who authored the book that inspired it), former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, former Southside Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode and more.
Read it here.
Last fall Roanoke Mayor David Bowers went viral when he cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a reason why the city shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees.
The discordant statement not only flew in the face of Roanoke’s status as a destination for refugees, but it also disregarded the contributions of the many Syrians who migrated to the city in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.
In those days, “Syrian” meant something far different than it does today. Before World War I, the Ottoman Empire incorporated not just Syria as we know it today, but the bulk of the Middle East, North Africa and southeast Europe. Between 1880 and 1920, about 150,000 people left the Ottoman Empire—and many landed in Roanoke.
I and photographer Suzie Kelly explored Roanoke’s rich (and tasty!) history of Syrian and Lebanese cuisine from the early 1900s to today in this story for Munchies.
Presidents can shift the direction of art and culture by providing an inspiration, sometimes as a hostile response to whoever inhabits in the White House.
At the dawn of the Iowa Caucuses—and thus the start of the 2016 camapign in earnest—I charted the future of music under 15 different potential presidents.
Yes, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is there.
Read my story at Noisey.