Wednesday, June 13, 2018
The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump's America Hardcover – August 16, 2016 by Alexander Zaitchik (Hot Books / Skyhorse Publishing)
I read The Gilded Rage by Alexander Zaitchik. I highly recommend Alexander Zaitchik's book. At 125 pages it is a quick read. Zaitchik met some very interesting characters as he sped from one primary state to another and slept on couches. Anecdotal reporting cannot decide the issue of racism versus economic pain, but it is clear that both are intertwined and stronger in some interviewees than others. But, what is clear from the interviews is that conservatives put a lot of stock in "self-help" and not government help. There is one exception--the Veterans Administration. They rightly expect the VA to help them. If the Democratic Party wanted to do the right thing on a moral level, and politically, they would go all-in on fixing the VA. Show these conservative veterans and their families that Democrats can make the government work for them.
On page 6 he wrote, "I'm not sure that a populist Democratic platform could provide a bridge over some very deep cultural rifts, but there's no option but to try." It would take a Democratic Party committed to actually doing something, particularly for rural states and rural areas within states. It would take a commitment to rebuilding our infrastructure all over the country. And, it would take tackling the one problem many of his interviewees kept talking about in rejecting Bernie--that he was giving away free stuff. We have to talk seriously about economic and tax inequality. Universal does not mean free. Even in some European countries what is universal is not free. There are nominal costs. There is real pain out there. I'm just not sure the Democratic Party is ready to step up to the plate.
Personally, the book was so interesting, I wish it had been longer. Alexander Zaitchik is an excellent writer with good instincts for a story. We've lost the Studs Terkel-type reporting. Hopefully, some editor somewhere will encourage Zaitchik to get back on the road and do some reporting from the "real 'america."