Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist at Princeton University, spent eight years interviewing Americans in small towns across the country. He had one goal: to understand why rural Americais so angry with Washington.
Wuthnow’s work resulted in a new book,The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America.He argues that rural Americans are less concerned about economic issues and more concerned about Washington threatening the social fabric of small towns and causing a “moral decline” in the country as a whole. The problem, though, is that it’s never quite clear what that means or how Washington is responsible for it.
A prescient passage from a forgotten book made the rounds after Donald Trump’s election. It was plucked from a 1998 book titled Achieving our Country. The author is Richard Rorty, a liberal philosopher who died in 2007. The book consists of a series of lectures Rorty gave in 1997 about the history of leftist thought in 20th-century America.
To read the viral passage is to recognize immediately why it caught fire after Trump’s election: