Strangers in Their Own Land | Arlie Russell Hochschild

Summary of: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
By: Arlie Russell Hochschild

Introduction

Welcome to the world of ‘Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,’ where you’ll examine the paradoxical mindset of Louisiana’s citizens, a state suffering from considerably low standards of living, struggling educational infrastructure and excessive pollution. The book explores the political affiliations of Louisiana’s populace, their support for the Tea Party, and voting for Bobby Jindal, who brought deregulation that benefited large chemical and oil companies. We delve into why Louisianans resist government aid, and how this resistance relates to their race, class, and gender beliefs. Get ready to discover the role of religion, tradition, and the fear of losing the ‘American Dream’ in shaping their political ideologies.

Paradoxes of Poverty Politics

Despite being one of the poorest states in America, government aid is not widely supported in Louisiana. This may be because the majority of its citizens are politically conservative, with a belief in free markets and small government. Bobby Jindal, a former governor, reduced regulations for large chemical and oil companies in the state to encourage business growth. Louisianans also resent the government taking their tax dollars to support those who they believe are not willing to work. However, this lack of government involvement has ironically resulted in poorer outcomes. The people of Louisiana believe that the few regulations still in place are causing their problems, but their reasons for this belief are explored further in the book.

False Promises and Poisoned Water

Louisiana’s oil industry and its detrimental impact on the state’s people, the environment, and tax revenue.

Louisiana’s oil industry is often portrayed as a positive force in the state, but in reality, the opposite is true. Despite promises of jobs and economic growth, the oil companies have been detrimental to Louisiana and its people. The oil companies often recruit professionals from outside the region and workers from poorer countries who accept lower pay rates than American citizens. The pollution produced by the oil plants has poisoned waterways, making many fishermen lose their jobs.

The state’s tax incentives for oil plants outweigh the benefits realized by the people of Louisiana. Governor Jindal has proposed ten years of tax-free operation for businesses that relocate to Louisiana, and these businesses are even permitted to change their names to receive ten additional years of tax-free operation. This policy has cost Louisiana $1.6 billion in lost tax revenue, money the state desperately needs.

Oil companies look for qualities that make particular towns ideal for their business. Long-term residents without education beyond high school who work in farming or mining industries are perfect for them. Louisiana is full of these towns, which is why oil companies have settled there.

Overall, Louisiana’s billion-dollar oil industry has been false promises and poisoned water for the state’s people and environment.

Tea Party’s Identity and Perception

The Tea Party’s identity is rooted in the belief that hardworking, blue-collar white men are not fairly rewarded and are often left behind as minorities receive special treatment. They view Obama’s presidency as an example of preferential treatment, and Fox News fueled this perception by linking his success to affirmative action and political correctness. There is a sense of isolation among these men, who see themselves as a forgotten minority. Donald Trump’s appeal lies in his disregard for the feelings of others and his willingness to blame those who Tea Party members feel deserve it. Ultimately, Trump’s promise to restore the autonomy and reverence of the white working class resonates with this demographic.

Tea Party Members and the Feeling of Condescension

Tea Party members feel judged and condescended to by the liberal media and society at large. They believe that they have been forcibly made to change their ways since the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Southerners claim that these historical events have created a sense of condescension among the North towards their way of life. The Tea Party followers have issues with being told how to express their magnanimity, their relationship with religion, and their stance on Bible-based education. This feeling of being attacked has caused them to act defensively and protect their way of life. The article examines how Tea Party members feel marginalized and judged by society.

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