A LIBERAL EDUCATION
My Journey Through Red America
When good people trust bad info
Alarmed that the Biden Administration has been clawing back a trivial fraction of the previous administration’s tax cuts, and softening a few austerity measures with last year’s stimulus package, poor and working-class Republicans have begun seeking ways to boost corporate welfare back to Trumpian heights.
There is a call to lobby Congress to provide subsidies and tax relief to big outfits providing opportunities in big-box retail, janitorial services, delivery, call centers, and fast food, alongside cuts to social services.
Diverting more economic pain toward themselves, Republican voters believe, will yield a trickle-down effect — a shower of wealth, or golden shower, if you will — that’s sure to lift them out of poverty once and for all.
I went on the road to interview registered Republicans in some of America’s poorest, and reddest, counties. I wanted to know if they still approve of the neoliberal sleight-of-hand that replaced blue-collar careers with service-sector gigs, and, if so, why they support economic policies that, arguably, do them harm.
In a rural community center in Grant Parish, Louisiana, I met twin brothers who were quick to criticize the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, signed in March of 2021. “That giant cash giveaway by Acting President Biden and the radical Left is something you expect in third-world dictatorships,” men’s room attendant Bobby Ray Fortune lamented with a sigh.
He shook his head. “Direct payments, more food stamps and school lunches, ‘affordable housing’ subsidies. You know the kind of people that helps. The ones who don’t put in the effort. Who make excuses. Who want everything handed to them.
”We need money for businesses — for job-creating patriots — instead of wasting it on lazy fools who spend every cent they get their hands on quick as they can.”
His brother, Claude, nodded in agreement. “There’s them that’s always gonna be poor because they got no idea how to handle a dollar,” he explained. “You could give ’em ever cent in the treasury today, and they’d be broke next week. Please, Mr. Acting President, don’t give money to their kind; give it to the responsible folk who grow our economy.”
He looked at Bobby Ray and lowered his voice. “And all them billions for vaccines. That’s what’s got me scared most. Nobody knows what kind of toxic effects they put into the shots, but you can be sure the Bilderberg family does. All them powerful European globalists that run the financial world are behind it.”
“And the media,” Bobby Ray injected.
“I know it, brother,” Claude said. “That’s why President Trump has got to be reinstated. He wouldn’t sell us out to the globalist Bilderbergs and Rothschilds. He supports American families and small businesses. American capitalism, while the Bidens are running around with Chinese billionaires and Communist Party thugs. We need a President, not a bank teller in chief!”
For their part, the twins expect to become entrepreneurs. They’re planning to buy a fleet of shrimp boats as soon as the business loan application they filed in 2020 is approved. I wish them well.
Passing through Boone County, Arkansas, I spoke with Candy Sue Rummage, a hairdresser, and her fiancé, Jasper Quince, who studies electronics repair at the nearby Rutland College Institute.
“We just want to get married soon and get on with our lives,” Candy Sue told me.
“But getting a house! Hah! That’s a good one. We can’t afford even a double wide, what with all the money flying out of Washington and into the hands of pretty near everyone except hardworking Americans. Look at this little apartment we’re crammed in. My girls, Destiny Ann and Vicki Lynn, got to share a bed!
“Illegal Mexican immigrants, Muslims, Blacks, Sodomites, Jews — you name it — they all get a big slice of the pie, while we get crumbs. The government builds houses for them. Nice ones, too. No strings attached,” she sighed.
“This Coronavirus hoax and ‘community outreach’ is how the radical Left Democrats plan to bankrupt traditional Americans and transfer our wealth to illegals and the Blacks. They’re distracting us by creating a panic. Just so they can rob us all blind.
“And maybe kill us off in the end, because I heard the vaccine they’re pushing is, like, programmed to wreck your immune system — only it’s so gradual you won’t notice until it’s too late,” Candy Sue explained, thumbing through her news feed. “‘Anyone who gets vaccinated will be dead in ten years’. That’s what Alex Jones says.”
She held up her phone for me, showing an article written by Jones and published by the Jenny McCarthy Center for Responsible Health Journalism, titled How the Vaccines Will Scramble Our Genes.
“And on top of it, they expect me to suffocate my girls with their stupid masks. What’s next? Veils like the Muslim ladies are forced to wear? Not on your life. We’re Americans!
“With all these threats happening at once, we have to fight to preserve our standards of living, and our Christian heritage,” Candy Sue insisted.
“Damn straight,” Jasper said. “Here I am upskilling for the new economy, and what are they doing in Washington? Printin’ money like it’s goin’ outta style and givin’ it to every kind of un-American individual. That’s not what economic stimulus even means! Who do they think they’re foolin’ anyhow?
“They gotta turn this thing around before it’s too late. Stimulus has to be about creating jobs! Give the money to the successful companies that are hiring — Walmart and McDonald’s and Amazon. The Biden crime family is makin’ life so easy for spongers, they never bother even looking for work. The whole economy is gonna im-plode if we don’t cut out this welfare and social service nonsense. You just watch.”
I wondered if Jasper had any government-subsidized student loans or grants. He didn’t like the implications.
“That sounds like welfare, and Candy Sue and me are the wrong color for that,” he sniffed. “I have just regular loans, you know, consumer loans. Rutland isn’t eligible for that kind of Washington giveaway anyhow.”
I asked if he expected to graduate into a job that would let him pay off his mounting student debt. When he said he wasn’t sure, I pressed a bit and asked if he might have to declare bankruptcy.
“It’s possible,” Jasper allowed. “But it’s not my fault. Look at how these Democrat traitors are ruining our economy! There’s nothing wrong with America that another decade of austerity won’t cure. If the government would get out of the way, and cut off all that welfare to everyone, me and Candy Sue’ll do just fine.”
And I certainly hope so, although I have doubts.
In Pickens County, South Carolina, I spoke with childhood besties Cody Hoop and Earl Rainey who own a garage specializing in restorations and performance tuning for AMC Javelins. The past decade has been tough on the pair’s business.
“Now I ain’t claimin’ nothin’, but it’s awful funny that our business began to dry up just about half way into Barack Hussein Obama’s first term,” Cody began. “And I got to think, maybe that ain’t no accident. You run a country like an Islamic three-ring circus, and you see what you get.”
“I’m about fed up myself,” Earl said, gazing out the door toward an unkempt field of tall grass and about fifteen Javelins in various stages of decomposition. “We put everything we had into this garage. Ever since we were kids we wanted to go into business together.
“It’s been a dream come true. But that Obama economy just wore us out. And President Trump got robbed of his chance to fix it. The Deep State took care of him, all right. And now we’re stuck with Biden and Harris, the leftist lapdogs.”
Cody broke in. “This country would probably turn the corner in a year or so, maybe eighteen months, but that’s off. They put Biden in the White House instead of prison where he belongs, and now he’s confiscating our money and giving it to Antifa thugs and Muslim jihadists and BLM terrorists. Helping all the wrong people. The socialist welfare state has run itself completely off the rails and I don’t think anyone can stop it.”
I’ll just mention that AMC stopped making the Javelin 45 years ago. A deteriorating supply of usable spare parts, rather than federal policies, did their business more harm than it would have been polite to emphasize.
The lads invited me to dinner. “We got a little kitchen here for when we work late,” Earl explained. We drank Bud tallboys while Cody cooked. He made a batch of cornbread and fried some meat and mushrooms in bacon fat using an old iron skillet. He deglazed it with beer and wilted a big handful of greens in the pan sauce.
“You ever ate squirrel before?” Cody asked, grinning. I said of course not, so naturally he asked if I liked it and watched closely for a reaction.
I forced a wide smile. “This is fucking awesome,” I lied. They’d shot the squirrels and picked the mushrooms and herbs. They had so little, yet they shared freely.
“Damn, Thomas,” Earl said with a laugh. “I had you figured for one of them city liberals with the Tesla and Chardonnay and organic truffles and shit. Looks like you’re a regular dude after all.”
I was charmed. I wished I could have stayed longer and spoken with more such people, but it was time to head back East. An idea was sprouting: each person I met had struck me as decent and trustworthy, but they seemed ill informed and needlessly alarmed, as if some malevolent imp had been whispering a perverse litany in their ears, Iago-wise.
Joe and Harriet
During a pit stop in Eureka County, Pennsylvania, heading home to New York on a cold, damp day, I encountered Luther and Mary Grace Temple — cheerful, religious folk who wanted me to know that they were praying for Joe Biden. To drop dead of a stroke. Although I ran into them by chance, I decided to go with it.
They’d met a decade earlier in a doctor’s waiting room where Luther was accompanying his first wife, Mae, who, sadly, died of the thing she consulted the doctor about.
“Mary Grace had her a ulcer on her her foot so big she couldn’t hardly walk,” Luther explained. “Long time ago, I had me this fantastical dream where the Lord came to me and said, ‘Luther Temple, you have the gift of miracle healing.’
“And sure enough, when I prayed for Mary Grace’s ulcer to clear up, it improved overnight, and disappeared altogether in about a week’s time — just like that.”
“Way more effective than that doctor’s antibiotic cream,” Mary Grace beamed.
But why had Luther’s healing prayers not helped his first wife, I wondered aloud. Luther looked pained. “Well, when it’s your time, it’s your time,” he said with a sad chuckle. “I reckon healed ain’t the same as immortal.”
The gas station didn’t take plastic or bills bigger than a twenty, which I discovered only after filling up, much to my embarrassment. I asked the Temples if they could break a hundred, which they did, graciously.
“Here,” Mary Grace said in a stage whisper, “you take these Jacksons and hold on to a few of ’em. Them Tubmans is coming out and you know they’ll be set to go worthless one day.”
She leaned in close and snugged up my jacket collar against the chill. “Believe me, this Coronavirus hoax is only the beginning. It’s really just the first wave, where the globalists use vaccines to sterilize us. I’m sure a bright young man like yourself knows all about that.
“Then comes the economic hit. White folks who trade in Jacksons for Tubmans are gonna go bankrupt, all at once. Poof! The new bills will just stop being legal tender. The Federal Reserve can do that, and they will when Biden and his globalist buddies order it.
“Then guess who’s gonna end up on food stamps, begging for spare change. The radical Left is gonna turn these United States into an absolute madhouse — upside-down, with job-killing regulations, sterilized youngsters, and a worthless dollar. They got this all planned and mapped out to a tee, Biden and the niggers.”
Mary Grace started toward her car. As she stepped in, she smiled like a cherub, and called out, “Thomas Greene, you look after yourself now, ya heah me? Hang on to them Jacksons!”
I promised that I would, and went inside to pay while she and Luther drove off.
There’s a strange sensation you get when frank racists are thoughtful and generous toward you — protective, even: a queer blend of gratitude and guilt that shadowed me throughout the trip.
No doubt the Germans have a word for it.