The focus of our March 13 discussion was the disillusioned voters who had a major effect on the last election.
The cover of our packet had a few quotes from The Future of Democracy:
We focused on the book Strangers in Their Own Land, by Arlie Hochschild, a Berkeley sociologist who spent years interviewing and getting to know the residents in an area of rural Louisiana. We also included a number of articles about voters in other parts of the US, many of whom have in the past voted for Democratic presidential candidates and then switched their voting patterns.
An essential element of Hochschild’s book is what she calls the “deep story” of the residents of the area where she spent time. They believe themselves having worked hard to get ahead for themselves and their families but nevertheless falling behind economically due to government neglect, or programs that allow others who often are less deserving to move ahead of them. They have developed a deep distrust of government and have moved to greater reliance on their local communities and industries for sustenance.
Jobs are a key issue in some areas that voted to put Trump in office; across the country in many states voters have become disillusioned that they or their families ever can move ahead financially. They have come to believe that the jobs provided by private industry are the only hope for them to emerge from their financial dilemma. In the rural South and areas that have become mere economic shadows of what they once were, such as Detroit and Youngstown, there is a feeling of abandonment and distrust of government. Many whose incomes have stagnated have moved farther from the American Dream, with no relief in sight. They are primarily economic voters with a desperate hope for restoring what they considered a prosperous way of life. They also have been victims of pollution that local industries often have brought, or a neglected or deteriorating environment from industries that have moved away, resulting in serious health hazards and a lowering of life expectancy.
But the well-paying jobs these people are longing for often are rooted in the past and represent unreliable sources of income for the future. Such jobs are based on fossil fuels or coal, which slowly are being replaced with alternatives, or automobile manufacturing and related industries where automation is taking over, so these jobs will continue to be low-paying.
We will continue to meet one Monday each month, depending on what works for the group. Next meeting will be April 17, when the topic will be After the Revolution. The results of many revolutions are a return to the oppressive conditions they were intended to replace: think Russia, France, much of Central and South America, and the 1960s in the US and other countries. Many are calling for a revolution in the US today. We will focus on ideas about how to move forward after revolutions with a discussion of the book Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders. I have invited my primary editor, Deborah Pearl, Russia expert and author of Creating a Culture of Revolution, to lend us her expertise.
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The Future of Democracy can be ordered wherever books are sold.
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Steve Zolno is the author of the book The Future of Democracy. He graduated from Shimer College with a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences and holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from Sonoma State University. He is a Management and Educational Consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been conducting seminars on democracy since 2006.