As Kruger registers his excellent essay :
I grew up a short distance from the birthplace of the Republican Party, a liberal and very progressive party when it was founded I might point out. I had immediate family in the Grange, a progressive Republican organization of farmers for most of its history. I was probably in college before I Met a democrat.
In case you’re wondering what “the Grange” is, you’re probably not ‘alone’ (I had to look it up). It was an important part of the Boer movement. To quote Wikipedia:
The peasant movement was the general name in American political history for a movement between 1867 and 1896. There were three periods in this movement, popularly known as the Grange, Alliance, and Populist movements.
The peasant movement is important in Peter Kruger’s essay. He writes about how urban progressives dominate democratic politics today, but the reverse used to be true:
But mostly the outspoken liberals [that I currently see out there] are not rural people. Those who dominate the Democratic Party usually come from urban areas.
This is, as I have researched the history of things, an artifact of the 20th century. There used to be progressive wings in both major parties. But [from the 19th century] in the 20th century, the Republican Party tended to move more and more to the countryside, rather than just to the North. Republicans always tended to be more pro-capital until the late 1800s, while labor was more of a Democratic Party plank. There was a pro-workers progressive movement that really held sway over the Republican Party for a short time with leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, and William Howard Taft.
Rural organizations such as the Grange were the progressive pro-labor force in the agricultural regions such as the Midwest.
He then describes Progressive Republicans, who later formed the heart of the Progressive Party that Theodore Roosevelt founded in 1912 (unofficially called the “Bull Moose” Party). As he puts it:
When the Republican Party lost its progressive wing in interparty fighting between the more measured Roosevelt progressives and the more radical LaFollette Republicans in the early 20th century, the conservative pro-capital wing regained control of the Republican Party with party leaders such as Warren Harding and Herbert. vacuum cleaner.
As we all know, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were terrible at their jobs. Harding died before he could be impeached in the Teapot Dome scandal. Calvin Coolidge often worked only 4 hours a day and did not keep abreast of the latest policy debates. And Herbert Hoover was the savvy bureaucrat who got stuck holding the bag when the stock market crashed. The Republicans have learned their lesson from their crushing defeat in 1932: no more clever bureaucrats! Problem solved! They did not win another presidential election until 1952, and they won it only by recruiting the hugely popular General Dwight Eisenhower, whom Democratic party activists tried to recruit in 1948.
Kruger doesn’t spend much of his essay on the Republicans before he was born. Most of his observations are from when he was alive. He skips the Nixon and Reagan years, as well as Newt Gringrich’s Contract on America. As he notes:
[By] by the time I was old enough to be aware of politics most people around me listened to WTMJ and Charlie Sykes and Republicanism had become conservative and reactionary. The Tea Party was very active and successful in my hometown and school district. My home country broke 60-30 for Trump.
The tire farm
Kruger’s essay really appealed to me, as I grew up on different ‘farms’ (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively). When I went to college (in Latah County, Idaho, at the University of Idaho, a land grant institution), my parents and brother moved from Idaho to Wisconsin. After they moved to Wisconsin, and after I moved to Seattle, our politics really went adrift. They really tried to do the right thing on their “tyre farm” as my siblings and I now call it, and were at the forefront of tire removal technology. While we didn’t use marketing-ready, high-tech words like “innovative” in our family; my father was incredibly smart, and much smarter than he thought.
Much of what my father’s Rebound Rubber company did was sloppy, with the old “common sense” farmer approach. My dad always loved dealing with the farmers, and his most successful products from his tire recycling business were cow cushions and sidewalls to hold up tarpaulins on farms. He knew that grain conveyor belts work really well on granulated rubber, and my dad welded together a great device for cutting sidewalls off old tires. Farmers appreciated using those old sidewalls to hold back tarpaulins, since sidewalls are much easier to handle than full tires and don’t trap water like a full tire. Because my father’s business acumen came from farming, my parents and brother lived on the property and converted the offices of that old dairy into their home.
And they fought the well-meaning regulators until they got out of that company in 2003. Sure, they might have taken a few turns, but my dad was very safety conscious, as he knew (from personal experience) how deadly heavy farm equipment was. He was talking about mindfulness before it was popular. He didn’t actually talk: when we worked with him, he often shouted “get your head out of your ass!with a seriousness none of us kids could ignore.
My father’s company was an environmental company, provide 2 billion scrap tires that plagued many automotive related businesses by the late 1980s. It competed with other tire recyclers and my dad often complained about how messy they were. He was always aware that he had to keep the “fluff” tidy. The sidewalls of tires contain a lot of dust. When a passenger car tire is granulated, it generates a lot of granulated rubber, granulated steel and granulated fabric. The granulated tissue (“fluff”) often floats in the air, covering grinding facilities like snow and floating in the air. It’s also flammable as hell. Anyone who has been near a grain elevator knows the danger of floating flammables. A video search for “grain elevator explosion” allows all Internet users to witness what many farmers feared. I was raised as a “farmer”, but I was never cut out for it.
After Rebound Rubber closed shop in about 2003 (they moved from the dairy in 2004), their biggest competitor in Watertown had to take over the business. That didn’t last long; their Watertown-based competitor In 2005 there was a huge firewhile they had an inspection. The owner’s lawyer acknowledged they had exceeded the quota for accepting new tires, but said they were under intense pressure to accept more used tires.
The well-intentioned scheme seemed to achieve the opposite of its intended effect.
Most of Kruger’s answer to the question “What do most liberals fail to realize?” is a long elaboration of these seven bullet points:
1. It’s not about ideology or partisanship, it’s about the ‘national consciousness’.
2. You can be pretentious AF sometimes.
3. Marketing Matters
4. Your whining about conservatives not playing in good faith is a waste of time.
5. Not everything that is unjust is racist and not everything that is racist on purpose racist.
6. People to do switch sides if they have a good reason, so stop writing my people off as a lost cause.
I posted Kruger’s essay on a certain social media site, several of my friends pushed back hard, but it seemed to resonate with a lot of them. One of my friends (who has almost certainly endured many more micro-aggressions than I have) realized all the micro-aggressions they might have perpetrated against rural voters and said, “The thing that blows my mind is that [Kruger is] to describe precisely that effect on voters in rural areas.” My response to my friend.
[Wow, that is] really profound. I’ve been thinking about all the micro-aggressions I’ve experienced as someone from “overpass country”. I’ve done a lot too. However, I’ve never considered them “micro-aggressions”; they were just annoying when I was the recipient, and “just fit in” when I committed them.
For example, I got used to the fact that when I said I was from Idaho, a common response was, “you gotta like potatoes… cough cough coughThis was even when I lived in Seattle, which is not that far from Idaho. Whenever someone said that, I thought “you are an idiot. You have no idea where potatoes come from. You probably think they grow on trees in 5 pound plastic bagsThe reason it bothered me: the proud ignorance of agriculture and geography. The part of Idaho where I went to college was the Palouse, which is known for wheat and lentils, not potatoes. Potato farms are more likely to be found in the Yakima- valley (in central Washington state) or the North Platte Valley (in Nebraska/Wyoming) My father grew up in the North Platte Valley, growing spuds (among many other crops) and raising cattle, and some I know very little about potato farming, I know about him, despite actively ignoring him when he tried to tell me about it.
My willful ignorance of farming was a series of micro-aggressions against my father (and other family members). I often bragged about “escaping” farming. And I am much more ignorant about farming than I should be, given my background. That is the much greater aggression I committed against my family; my lack of interest when they would talk about this agriculture. For years I really didn’t care.
Sorry Dad! (no really, that’s me!) I used to whine a lot about how hard the farm work was. I think he hoped to leave the farm to me. Instead, he left the farm to the bank because he was a good enough businessman to realize that he and my mother had more debt on the farm than he could sell the farm for. We had a house in the middle of nowhere in Idaho that we could move into. In viaduct country, where many trees were cut down because they were not in sight of a major highway.
The willful ignorance of “viaduct country” (and even the name “viaduct country”) is offensive to those people. I didn’t mind the jargon. Like I said, I wanted to escape. I never thought all those things I said to my father over the years were “micro-aggressions” towards him as a farm boy, but it makes perfect sense. When I thought about it using my friend’s framing, I was also a little surprised.
Still, I prefer computer work. Farming is too hard. I don’t like getting my hands dirty.