Strangers in Their Own Land
Anger and Mourning on the American RightBook - 2016
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"Regulation is like cement: you lay it down, and it hardens and stays there forever."
Implicitly, Trump promised to make men "great again," too. . . .Trump was the identity politics candidate for white men.
Of course people want to feel good about themselves. . . . And while economic self-interest is never entirely absent [as in Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?"], what I discovered was the profound importance of . . . release from the feeling of being a stranger in one's own land.
In the realm of emotions, the right felt like they were being treated as the criminals, and the liberals had the guns.
Oil is the new cotton, but the plantation culture persists.
"Confederates tried to get out from under the control of the federal government -- to secede. But you can't secede from oil. And you can't secede from a mentality. You have to think your way into and out of that mentality."
. . .one more thing - the federal government wasn't on the side of men being manly. Liberals were certainly on the wrong side of that one. It wasn't easy being a man. It was an era of numerous subtle challenges to masculinity, it seemed. . . .
The federal government. . .stood up for the biological environment, but it allowed - - and it seemed at times it caused - - a cultural erosion.
The 'federal government' filled a mental space in Mike's mind - and in the minds of all those on the right I came to know - associated with a financial sinkhole.
In 1980. . .in Lake Peigneur. . . .Texaco had drilled a hole in the bottom of the lake and punctured an underlying salt dome. The resulting whirlpool had sucked down two drilling platforms, eleven barges, four flatbed trucks, a tugboat, acres of soil, trees, trucks, a parking lot, and an entire sixty-five-acre botanical garden. Miraculously, no one died.
The free market was the unwavering ally of the good citizens waiting in line for the American Dream. The federal government was on the side of those unjustly "cutting in."
In the undeclared class war, expressed through the weary, aggravating, and ultimately enraging wait for the American Dream, those I came to know developed a visceral hate for the ally of the "enemy" cutters in line -- the federal government.
Behind it all. . .lay a deep story. A deep story is a "feels-as-if-story." Like a dream, it is told in the language of symbols. It removes judgment. It removes fact. It tells us how things feel. . . .
The deep story here, that of the Tea Party, focuses on relationships between social groups within our national borders.
I constructed this deep story to represent. . . the hopes, fears, pride, shame, resentment, and anxiety in the lives of those I talked with.
I tried it out on my Tea Party friends to see if they thought it fit their experience. They did.
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