Review | Thursday 08 November 2007
Have you ever wondered why struggling voters firmly attach themselves to the party and candidate who represents the big end of town, actively voting against their interests? (The answer, says Joe Baegant, lies in revenge.) Joe grew up in Winchester, Virginia - redneck country. His 'people' love Jesus, guns, talk radio and cable TV. They work hard for little money, many of them at the local GE or Rubbermaid factories, Wal-Mart or Home Depot. They sign up for astronomical mortgages with dodgy credit companies that don't rely on credit ratings. These are the people that the Starbucks-sipping, urban middle-class see as 'angry, warmongering bigots' and tend to dismiss out of hand.
In this engrossing book, Joe (a left-wing journalist) tells the stories of the average working-class Americans he grew up with and attempts to explain why they think the way they do - and how (small 'l') liberals can re-engage with them, as they must if they are to win government again. 'The left must genuinely connect face-to-face with Americans who do not necessarily share all of their priorities'. That's what Joe does in Deer Hunting with Jesus - and there's a message in there for us, too.
Jo Case is Editor of Readings Monthly