Strangers in Their Own Land

by Arlie Hochschild

Continuing on in my education of US politics, I wanted to dive into something a little more contemporary and answer questions such as “why did conservative americas vote for politicians that fundamentally didn’t have their best interests at heart?”

Strangers in Their Own Land does a wonder accounting of personal stories behind right-leaning conservatives that have been hit hardest by environmental disasters. The story is at its roots, quite simple. It’s a story of money. Similar to how cotton was the main economic powerhouse of the South while industry was of North, today, natural resources like coal and natural gas define the South while the North benefits from a wide range of different industries.

As a result, it’s rather easy to see why voters tend to be right leaning. Yet at the same time, this doesn’t explain why they so often vote for governors that seem incompetent at best, negligent at worst. It seems that the answer is a little more convoluted in this case. Right wing candidates often identify heavily with nationalistic and traditional beliefs. As more of the outer support system for voters collapses (things like job mobility, environment, community), these voters begin to turn to places like church. This then means that they support candidates that align more with their sole source of support. And these candidates turned officials then cut outside support systems further. It’s a sad cycle of depedence. Things need to change but I’m not too sure how that might be accomplished.


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