Tuesday, 14 February 2017 19:56

Tea Party, Gumbo and Donald Trump: Interview with Dr. Arlie Russell Hochschild

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strangersA “Stranger in a strange land” meets “strangers in their own land”.

This is my impression of the narrative as explained by esteemed Dr. Arlie Russel Hochschild, Professor of Sociology at University of California at Berkeley and author of nine books including her most recent, Strangers in their own Land.

First, a little background.

Weeks ago, a friend of mine suggested I do a Facebook Live video interview with Dr. Hochschild as the topic of her book was tantalizing and the subject of her recent PBS interview, fascinating.  She spent five years getting to know the very conservative men and women of Louisiana.  The state is known to be the most red of red states in the nation.  Given that she teaches at Berkeley, which has its own reputation for being the liberal bastion of political thought, her journey to Cajun Country must have been somewhat of a future shock on acid.

I say this because I live in Louisiana and my best friends are certainly among those ultra-conservative folks with whom Dr. Hochschild might have gotten to know during that five-year period.  Comedian George Gobel once joked about his being a pair of brown shoes and a world of tuxedos.  That best explains how I surely feel at times. Thus, my curiosity about her experience was even that much more piqued.

So, as twelve noon struck today, I was ready to begin our online event. Unfortunately, sometimes technology has its own schedule and opinions, which it did today.  As a result, the one-hour Facebook Live and Twitter Live interview which I promoted--so my audience could ask their own questions--quickly became a one-on-one recorded video interview  Ah, but what a fascinating few minutes I did spend.  

The soft-spoken author explained why she decided to take such a big sip out of her life to share the likes of gumbo with people, who were so culturally and politically different from herself.  She articulated her learned analysis how and why these wonderful people became such fierce Tea Party advocates and later, such avid supporters of another movement, led by the most unlikely leader, a billionaire from New York City, of all places.

Dr. Hochstein made some major points in the interview that I believe need tremendous emphasis: 

Louisiana, one of the neediest states in terms of federal dollars is for some amazing yet unexplainable reason, probably the most averse to federal government programs.

America is deeply divided.  On both sides of the political spectrum are the dedicated--hard-working, caring folks who love family, God and country.  Yet, there is a chasm so deep and wide that one might wonder if anyone can ever make America united, again.   

Do watch the short interview.  I only wish I would have had the full hour to get the insights of this kind and scholarly woman who tapped into some of the most puzzling recent political mysteries—the paradoxes of the red and the blue states and the historic rise of Donald J. Trump.





Last modified on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 20:15
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