Out Among The Red

My piece on David Von Drehle’s exploration of Red America in The Washington Post is up at Red State.

Don’t miss Mitch Berg’s response to Von Drehle’s piece as well as Tim Blair’s inspired Fisking. Patrick Ruffini also has some very cogent thoughts as well.

UPDATE: Sadly Tim Blair’s site has been hacked so it’s no longer available. Another reason why frequent backups are a lifesaver.

UPDATE: Tim Blair’s site is fortunately back online.

4 thoughts on “Out Among The Red

  1. It’s always amusing to watch modern conservatives cluelessly romanticize the corporations disguised as family farms who now toil on the fields of America’s heartland. As a product of agricultural America, I can assure you that these “rugged individualists” reap the spoils of government largesse more than any other demographic in America per capita. There are websites that show the annual subsidy checks given to farmers. Take a look at any such websites and see if you can still make the specious argument of farmers accurately representing “conservative and Republican values.” Couple the farm subsidies with rural America’s dependency on blue states for highway funds and financing for other infrastructural necessities such as the billions spent to create and maintain the CAP irrigation system in the Southwest and red staters quickly become exposed as the most government-dependent people around.

    Even your analogy about early settlers “heading back East if they couldn’t cut it on their own in the heartland” is not supported by historical reality. Millions of the heartland’s early settlers were given free plots of land by the U.S. government as part of the Homestead Act. Compare that to the right’s present-day hourly tantrums about paying for bread and diapers for impoverished immigrants and their historical rewrite becomes all the more ridiculous. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from repeatedly trying.

  2. Mark,

    I’m “a product of agricultural America”, too, although I’d be more comfortable with a slightly different description.

    And by my experience, it’s the left that romanticizes the family farm; it’s the Democrats that shill most shamelessly for the various socialistic farm programs that have rendered free enterprise such a joke in farm country.

    Farm-state Republicans know, of course, that these programs are a third rail, to be peed on at ones’ own vast political peril.

  3. Mitch, I have decidedly mixed feelings about “socialistic farm programs” but ultimately have to come down in favor of them. The alternative would inevitably lead to the same result that “deregulation” leads to in every other industry where it’s practiced…..corporate ag companies buying out farm after farm after farm until they oligopolize cropland ownership the same way Clear Channel and Cumulus oligopolize radio after its 1996 deregulation. From there, the pace at which agricultural America depopulates will accelerate from its already frightening rate.

    The upward mobility of what the right deems “socialistic” has become noteworthy. We’ve overturned much of the Great Society programs assuring public housing and welfare payments to the poor on the grounds that they were “socialistic.” New Deal legislation that established a minimum wage is under constant fire from the radical right as “socialistic” and the New Deal’s big prize, Social Security, is on the verge of disassembly. Now, however, the initial stalwarts of the early 20th century populist movement aren’t even sacred to the socialist-baiters, ranging from Woodrow Wilson’s estate tax to Teddy Roosevelt’s antitrust measures. The evisceration of socialistic farm programs, while certainly saving the government money from the cost of ag subsidies, would certainly lead to an outcome reminiscent of the very reasons antitrust legislation was enacted in the first place. In our effort to rid the country of anything Republican radicals can deem “socialist”, we’re essentially undoing the entire 20th century and suggesting the Gilded Age was the good old days.

    All things considered, allowing “market forces” to push Republican voters off of the farms and into urban blue areas would be a sweetheart deal for the Democrats long-term. Perhaps if your assessment is correct that we lefties are the ones romanticizing the “family farm”, we should reverse course and give the “rugged individualists” a taste of what they claim they want when they vote for the party of anti-populism. But then again, that was tried with Freedom to Farm legislation back in the 1990’s (hint…signed by Bill Clinton…a Democrat), until red-state farmers insisted the Republican Congress and Republican President revert back to good old days of massive agricultural subsidies and “socialistic farm programs.”

  4. Give me agribusiness over the outdated fiction of the family farmer any day. (heck, it would probably be better for South Dakota’s environment if most of our government-sponsored marginal-land agriculture went bankrupt anyway. This state’s future is in three places- wind farms, roaming herds of bison, and whatever tech, banking, and medical companies Sioux Falls can lure in.)

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