Vail Symposium hosts progam on how the rise of white conservatism damages people’s lives |

Vail Symposium hosts progam on how the rise of white conservatism damages people’s lives

Daily staff report
Jonathan M. Metzl’s work hopes to understand the implications of conservative political issues, such as pro-gun laws in Missouri, funding cuts to schools in Kansas and social services and the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee.
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What: Dying of Whiteness: How Racial Resentment is Decimating America’s Heartland

When: Thursday, Jan. 9. Doors at 5:30 p.m.; program at 6 p.m.

Where: Four Seasons Resort, Vail

Cost: $25 in advance, $35 at midnight before the show and at the door.

More information: Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

With the rise of conservatism and the election of Donald Trump, many middle- and lower-income white Americans threw their support behind Republican politicians who pledged to make life great again for people like them.

However, Dr. Jonathan Metzl argues that right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences – even for the white populations they promise to help.

On Thursday, Vail Symposium welcomes Metzl to Four Seasons Resort Vail for a discussion on the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health.

The program, “Dying of Whiteness: How Racial Resentment is Decimating America’s Heartland,” begins at 6 p.m.

“The rising mortality rate of white, working-age Americans since 1999 shocked the country when the trend was widely revealed,” said Claire Noble, Vail Symposium’s program manager. “This was unheard of in an advanced democracy, and researchers began looking for answers. Dr. Metzl was one of those researchers, and his latest book is the culmination of several years devoted to understanding this trend.”

Between 2013 and 2018, physician and sociologist Metzl traveled extensively in the South and Midwest — in Sarah Palin’s words, the “real America.”

He wanted to learn how people balanced anti-government and pro-gun attitudes while at the same time navigating lives impacted by poor health care, widening gun-related mortality and underfunded public infrastructures and institutions.

Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovered how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas.

Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl found they did just the opposite and made life sicker, harder and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white gun suicides soared, life expectancies fell, and school dropout rates rose.

In this program, Metzl will discuss his book, “Dying of Whiteness,” and share his thoughts on how the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these voters’ very health at risk and, in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being.

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