liberal

Listener Essay - I Was Wrong

Mar 16, 2017

Steven Lewis is a former Mentor at SUNY-Empire State College, current member of the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute faculty, and longtime freelancer. His new novel, Loving Violet, will be published by Cohill Press in summer 2017.

I Was Wrong

I am beginning this piece in the early days of the United States’ descent into the Dystrumpian Future. So many among us holding our breaths, preparing for the coming repressions, the planetary insults to reason and civilized behavior, the Armageddon-Sans-Rapture that awaits this great country. And it’s already far worse than many of us feared.

In Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America.

  In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right.

As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets—among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident—people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

  Most of us have to “talk across the aisle” once or twice a year—when we’re seated next to our conservative out-of-town uncle at Thanksgiving, say. But millions of self- identified liberals live in cities and towns—particularly away from the East and West Coasts—where they are regularly outnumbered and outvoted by conservatives.

Justin Krebs is a political and cultural entrepreneur, strategist and writer. He is the founding director of Living Liberally, a national progressive social organization with over 200 chapters. The organization is primarily composed of Drinking Liberally happy hours, which give liberals around the country the opportunity to get offline and form face-to-face friendships.

Krebs' new book is Blue in a Red State: The Survival Guide to Life in the Real America.

  In Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics in the twentieth century.

By going deep into the minds of six apostates—Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, and Christopher Hitchens—Oppenheimer offers an unusually intimate history of the American left, and the right’s reaction.

   Historians generally portray the 1950s as a conservative era when anticommunism and the Cold War subverted domestic reform, crushed political dissent, and ended liberal dreams of social democracy. These years, historians tell us, represented a turn to the right, a negation of New Deal liberalism, an end to reform.

Jennifer Delton argues that, far from subverting the New Deal state, anticommunism and the Cold War enabled, fulfilled, and even surpassed the New Deal's reform agenda. Anticommunism solidified liberal political power and the Cold War justified liberal goals such as jobs creation, corporate regulation, economic redevelopment, and civil rights.

In her book, Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal, Skidmore College History Professor Jennifer Delton shows how despite President Eisenhower's professed conservatism, he maintained the highest tax rates in U.S. history, expanded New Deal programs, and supported major civil rights reforms.

In his new book, Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment, Craig Whitney reexamines America’s relationship with guns, showing how guns are an important part of American culture.

We welcome Martin Duberman to the show and speak with him about Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left.

Michael Ian Black is a liberal comedian. Meghan McCain is a conservative commentator. The unlikely duo took a road trip across the country to discuss and study the state of political discourse in America. The result: America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom.