Political Book Club—first meeting April 9, 2017
Although many of us were only half way through the book, all of us were impressed with Deer Hunting with Jesus. Written by Joe Bageant in 2007, this compelling non-fiction narrative is eerily prescient. Not only did Bageant predict the real estate crash of 2008 and its consequences, but he offers an analysis of alternative facts and deplores the inability of democrats to reach out to those who became Trump voters 10 years later.
Chesney, who suggested the book and started the group, welcomed the eight of us at a cozy table in Mathilde Literatur Café, then moderated the discussion. Among the many insights gained about what the author terms the “working poor” in the town of his birth:
- Quite apart from the constitution, guns are an inalienable part of their culture and very being.
- Each individual alone must take responsibility for his life, with no “handouts” from the government.
- If you have not succeeded, it can only be because of your inferiority—the wealthy deserve their elite status.
- Their dependence for nearly all information, political and otherwise, is on conservative talk radio.
- Republicans have systematically infiltrated this society for more than thirty odd years, succeeding in dominating local politics from the school board on up.
The book is often shockingly blunt, especially when Bageant describes the “meanness at the heart of our Republic”, but it is clear that Democrats will have to dramatically change their approach to large segments of the American population in order to win future elections. Reading books such as this one, is the first step to knowing and understanding our opponents, in order to reach out to them somehow. It may not be possible, but it is certainly worth a try.
Article by Maryann Schmunk, photo by Chesney McKinley Severance