Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, these people brought their own brand of frontier justice and mentality to the Appalachians of the American south – where they were first pitted, again on a dangerous frontier, against the American Indians for land and sustenance, and then – though nary a one of them owned slaves – to fight the Civil War on behalf of their economic and social superiors against the Union, whom, they were told, wanted to take from them the impoverished “dignity” of “at least not being colored.”
In the 20th Century, through governmental, corporate and social pressures, the borderers and their redneck descendants, people to whom hard work, self-reliance, submission to God and abject boozehoundery are not just virtues but essential life principles, were abandoned by both major political parties in practice, though one party did maintain a connection, at least in rhetoric.
The Republican Party, while most assuredly shilling for the local, state and federal cabals that run the nation’s Chambers of Commerce, have maintained that cultural connection with these folks, by consciously appealing to those virtues. Hard work? Not those damn (and black) Welfare Moms up north. Self reliance? It’s better to live in a Right to Work state than take “government handouts” or to “become a lazy-assed union tool.” Fear of God? Those libruls don’t even want our kids to read the Bible. Traditional values? Democrats want homos to run the Boy Scouts. Strong drink? Them librul faggots won’t even let you smoke in their bars in California and New York.
And the Democrats, in their own, unique, head-buried-in-the-sand way, for all their “why do they vote against their own self-interest” ruminations, long ago abandoned the battlefield for workers’ rights. Remember, it was Bill Clinton, not Bill O’Reilly, who pushed through NAFTA and dumped the shift worker at the Rubbermaid plant in Winchester, Virginia into a losing game of race to the bottom against third world economies with governments beholden to American capital that are more than happy to shoot union organizers and pollute the great blue ball of Earth (a planet that Bill Clinton and North Eastern Liberals share) with no other drive than profit.
Why the hell should Billy-Bob trust them?
Of course, as Bageant understands, all this is – Republican fealty and Democratic treachery – is all part of the great Hologram, sustained by media manipulation and both economic and social realities. Consider “the redneck” as pictured by most North Eastern Libruls: he’s a beer swilling, NASCAR watching, ball-scratching idiot.
And, in many ways, he is. But why?
As Joe points out, it sure as hell isn’t because he’s lazy. Joe’s friends at the Royal Lunch have all worked 60 to 70 hour weeks, at ever decreasing wages, for their entire lives – right up until the time that they’re too damn worn out to pull a swing-shift and get shuffled off to the relatively low-cost nursing home to drip out their days. Maybe the Redneck lives in the trailer because he lost his land, if he had any years ago, to an inability to pay the taxes (see above: the declining wages of the American worker tossed into a “global market place” over the past 20 years and the anti-unionism from both parties over the past 50) and now the Redneck at least want’s the dignity of four walls owned, even if they’re made of tin and attract tornadoes. He watches NASCAR and football, maybe because he’s too damn tired to pick up a book, or because the educational system into which he was born has sucked and has gotten worse for decades, or because the opportunities to get a higher education have been an economically receding mirage for his class for even longer.
Bageant wants his readers to see the entirety of his borderer volk. He wants right thinking, but lily-livered liberals to see the denizens of Winchester, Virginia as people first. People with histories and realities that they don’t control. Only then might the left begin to understand, and to converse with, the Redneck Right.