White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy (Hardcover)

White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy By Tom Schaller, Paul Waldman Cover Image
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A searing portrait and damning takedown of America’s proudest citizens—who are also the least likely to defend its core principles

“This is an important book that ought to be read by anyone who wants to understand politics in the perilous Age of Trump.”—David Corn, New York Times bestselling author of American Psychosis

White rural voters hold the greatest electoral sway of any demographic group in the United States, yet rural communities suffer from poor healthcare access, failing infrastructure, and severe manufacturing and farming job losses. Rural voters believe our nation has betrayed them, and to some degree, they’re right. In White Rural Rage, Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman explore why rural Whites have failed to reap the benefits from their outsize political power and why, as a result, they are the most likely group to abandon democratic norms and traditions. Their rage—stoked daily by Republican politicians and the conservative media—now poses an existential threat to the United States.

Schaller and Waldman show how vulnerable U.S. democracy has become to rural Whites who, despite legitimate grievances, are increasingly inclined to hold racist and xenophobic beliefs, to believe in conspiracy theories, to accept violence as a legitimate course of political action, and to exhibit antidemocratic tendencies. Rural White Americans’ attitude might best be described as “I love my country, but not our country,” Schaller and Waldman argue. This phenomenon is the patriot paradox of rural America: The citizens who take such pride in their patriotism are also the least likely to defend core American principles. And by stoking rural Whites’ anger rather than addressing the hard problems they face, conservative politicians and talking heads create a feedback loop of resentments that are undermining American democracy.

Schaller and Waldman provocatively critique both the structures that permit rural Whites’ disproportionate influence over American governance and the prospects for creating a pluralist, inclusive democracy that delivers policy solutions that benefit rural communities. They conclude with a political reimagining that offers a better future for both rural people and the rest of America.

About the Author

Tom Schaller is a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. A former columnist for  The Baltimore Sun, he has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. A regular analyst of U.S. politics, he has appeared on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and The Colbert Report. He is the author or co-author of five other books, including Common Enemies, The Stronghold, and Whistling Past Dixie.

Paul Waldman is a journalist and opinion writer whose work has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and digital outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Week, MSNBC, and CNN. He is a former columnist at The Washington Post and the author or co-author of four previous books on media and politics, including Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn from Conservative Success and The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories that Shape the Political World.

Praise For…

“Someone write a new elegy for the bilious hillbilly, because these authors went for his jugular . . . Next to their characterizations, ‘basket of deplorables’ sounds almost quaint, and many readers may find guilty satisfaction in that.”—The Washington Post

“[Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman] persuasively argue that most of the negative stereotypes liberals hold about rural Americans are actually true. They do not mince words about what this means for the future of democracy in America. . . . And Schaller and Waldman bring receipts.”—The Daily Beast

“America’s seemingly most patriotic citizens—rural Americans—are losing their faith in democracy because both the Democratic and Republican parties have long ignored their needs. This important book argues that the survival of our democracy depends on our willingness to strengthen the heartland economically, rather than exploit its fears.”—Barbara F. Walter, New York Times bestselling author of How Civil Wars Start
“With White Rural Rage, Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman have the guts to ask a crucial question: Why do so many white Americans fall for the authoritarian demagoguery now being peddled by the GOP? Moreover, how does this threaten the entire nation? Deploying a deft combination of data analysis and reporting from the heartland, they chronicle the decline of rural America and the rise of grievances that are exploited and weaponized by Republicans to serve a far-right agenda that undermines Middle America and elsewhere. Schaller and Waldman illuminate a critical truth: The main problem with Trumpism is not Donald Trump but Trump voters. This is an important book that ought to be read by anyone who wants to understand politics in the perilous Age of Trump.”—David Corn, New York Times bestselling author of American Psychosis
White Rural Rage is a superb treatment of the regional and political divide that is shaping American politics, governance and society. It represents the best of what journalism and political science can do—cogent analysis, backed by data, written in an accessible fashion by authors who got out in the country and met with real people.”—Norman J. Ornstein, New York Times bestselling co-author of One Nation After Trump
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593729144
ISBN-10: 0593729145
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English