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Homegrown

It is a strange thing to say in the year 2014, as the political battle-lines grow harder and our bitter-enders ever more bitter, but there was a time when I didn’t think of my home state of Kansas as a particularly right-wing place. 
It is true that the Kansas City suburb where I grew up teemed with standard-issue business-class Republicans back in the ’70s and ’80s; I had been one myself once upon a time. But I also knew that Kansas was the kind of place that valued education, that built big boring suburbs, that never did anything risky or exciting. Its politics in those days were utterly forgettable, dominated by a succession of bland Republican moderates and unambitious Democrats. We were the epitome of unremarkableness. When the notorious “Summer of Mercy” took place in 1991 — the event that marked the beginning of the state’s long march to the right — I remember reading about it from graduate school in Chicago and thinking how strange it was that Operation Rescue had chosen Wichita as the place to make its stand. After all, Kansas wasn’t in the South. 
It wasn’t until several years later that I began to understand what a fascinating, upside-down extravaganza it was to see the right eat its way through the good sense of the nation. Of course, many others had written about the movement by then, largely in the key of horror and tearful deploring. But relatively few seemed to get the sheer literary potential of the nation’s big right turn, and as I surveyed the political headlines day after day, I grew more and more amazed at what was going on. (Thomas Frank, "The matter with Kansas now," Salon.com)
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Childrearing. The better loved in society are comfortable with progress because their own growth as children wasn't complicated by harsh abandonment or intense anger by their caretakers (most importantly, by their mothers -- the primary caretaker in almost all families). The worst loved feel threatened every time, because theirs was, and they're possessed of the most god-awful of punitive superegos to prove it. If society just keeps advancing, the worst-loved will never reform out of being human discombobulates because they're not empowered to make society into a psychic extension that catches and disowns them of their own insanity -- institutionalized racism, for example, rather than all-consuming private hate -- and will remain that way unless the rest of society reaches its peak tolerance as well, and begins to transform our national narrative, the overall feel of our nation, into one that resolves everyone's growth panic.
This can happen by resolving America once again into a folk community, like America imagined itself in the 30s, with each member small but bound to a provisioning mystical community. Here out of Washington what we'll sense is family ties, traditions -- not urban sophisticates denying / laughing off the past but rather visibly showing their allowing it to imbibe / possess them. Thomas Frank has some of this in him, this longing to have the edges off and belong in his small fashion into a community; let's hope enough of us don't switch from reading Monocle to reading Baffler, because it's about slipping into a fugue. 
First the human community -- togetherness -- then the attack on scapegoats possessed of all we just can't any longer count as part of ourselves. 

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