Reading Project: WTF, USA?

To anyone who is living through the 2016 Presidential elections the point of this project should be blatantly obvious. Anyone who chances upon this at a later date and is wondering what the fuss is about should go and watch this to get an idea.

Europeans of course are in no way immune from stupidity, political or otherwise, but the reckless enthusiasm with which the Republican party has been embracing it for the last couple of years really is something special. Which in itself might not be all that noticeworthy, but where we Non-USians really start scratching our collective heads is that they are actually getting away with it. Gratefully, there has – at least as of the moment where I am writing this – not been a Tea Party president, but the sheer amount of outraged USians agreeing with and voting for ultra-right loudmouths is baffling, considering how pretty much everything coming out of those mouths is not only utter hogwash but also blatantly against the interests of US citizens. No matter how much I try, to only cite what is probably the most striking example, it remains utterly incomprehensible to me how any member of the middle or lower classes can actually believe that introducing a national health service would be a bad thing even though it is so obviously in their own best interest to have one.

This bafflement has been my reaction to USian politics for years, if not decades, but with the increasing popularity of Donald Drumpf it has reached new, dizzying heights – sureley this can’t be serious and is all just some weird, tasteless joke? So I’m dedicating 2016 to trying to understand what the hell is up with the US of A, and to that purpose intend to read several books, namely:

  • Robert A. Caro: Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson II – post here
  • Thomas Frank: What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
  • Michael Kimmel: Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
  • Richard Hofstadter: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life 
  • Jane Mayer: Dark Money – post here
  • Rick Perlstein: Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus

I’m not sure about how many of those (and any I may still add to the list) I will actually post; but if I do, I will keep this page updated. Additional reading suggestions are of course welcome!



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