Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fear and Loathing in Middle America

This is an interesting article from Alternet on why middle America continually votes Republican, and totally screwed themselves over financially, in doing so. He thinks it's ignorance due to poor education. It's actually a review of a book written by Joe Bageant.
Author Joe Bageant's “Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War“ gets down and dirty with the hardship economics in Middle America.
By Sasha Abramsky

“The working class here in what they are now calling the 'heartland,' (all the stuff between the big cities)“ he writes, “exists on a continuum ranging from complete insecurity to the not-quite-complete insecurity of having a decent but endangered job. It is a continuum extending from the apathy of the poorest to the hard-edged anger of those with more to lose. Which ain't a lot, brother, when your household income hovers around $30,000 or $35,000 with both people working... Until those with power and access decide that it's beneficial to truly educate people, and make it possible to get an education without going into crushing debt, then the mutt people here in the heartland will keep on electing dangerous dimwits in cowboy boots.“

Those in power - or at least the Republicans - want those people remaining ignorant or they will no longer be in power.
...Bageant is unapologetically the product of redneck America. As a result, in the same way as I can get away with Jewish jokes, so Bageant can get away with redneck jokes that probably shouldn't be told by a man not of the “Borderers“ tribe -- the conservative descendants of the Ulster Scots -- that he so vividly describes.

“After a night of political discussion at Royal Lunch [his local greasy spoon diner-cum-tavern],“ Joe recounts deadpan, “a British relative, a distant continental member of the Bageant clan, called our gang of locals 'the most intellectually squalid people I have ever met' -- and he had chewed qat with Ugandan strongman Idi Amin's bodyguards.“

Now that's pretty scary, and I believe it. But I really wonder if people can really be so "intellectually squalid" without at least some of their own participation in the process. This is where I have hopes for the internet, with so much information available at cheaper and cheaper prices perhaps they can pull themselves out of ignorance. But as someone who has lived his entire life in big cities I know that ignorance is not limited to rural America.

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