The title of this essay is from a book by that name by Thomas Frank. I haven’t read it, but reviews indicate that it essentially makes a point that illustrates perfectly the quandary in which the left finds itself—the inability for liberal elites to understand why any rational voter would cast a ballot for a party (Republican) or a candidate (Bush and others) with policy views that seem to them so contrary to his interests. Kansas is used as a prime example of how well conservative Republicans have “fooled” the heartland. I was reminded of this review and this point by a report by the Pacific Research Institute, which annually ranks the states based on its “freedom index”, using five policy criteria—fiscal, regulatory, judicial, government size, and welfare. It is instructive that Kansas ranks number one and, in fact, 24 of the top 26 states in the ranking were Bush and “red” states in the recent election. Another survey, this one involving fertility rates, as reported by David Brooks, notes that Bush carried the nineteen states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26, while John Kerry carried the sixteen states with the lowest. Folks, these aren’t political tendencies, they are spiritual. It doesn’t require a doctorate in sociology to know that people who are building families are optimistic people and, as Brooks correctly notes, are rejecting materialism and hyperindividualism in favor of other values. Are the voting patterns in these two surveys simply coincidental? The answer should be obvious, but it will take the left a while to figure out why Kansans and other heartlanders and Sun Belt city dwellers are so “gullible”, and much longer to determine what to do about it.
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