Book Review: There’s Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos

There’s Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos:  A Work Of Political Subversion, by Jim Hightower

This particular work is written as part of an internal debate within the Democratic party between those Democrats like Bill (and Hillary) Clinton whose move to the middle, at least in their own mind, was occasioned by obtaining the support of cultural, economic, and political elites, and those more populist and progressive and even radical Democrats who sought to bring home the bacon to working class whites and minorities and who often had a more conservative social streak.  The author is clearly in that second camp, and he belongs to a particular political species that at this point in time is nearly extinct:  the populist Southern Democrat.  At the time this book was written in 1998, Republicans had already started making much of the South their domain, and the handwriting was on the political wall, but in the nearly two decades since then, the picture has gotten considerably more grim for the author and those of his particular political tribe.  To be sure, such people as the author do exist, I happen to know some of them myself, Texans with a taste for left-wing populism, but such people no longer win political office and even within the Democratic party such people seemingly no longer have a political home at present.

The contents of this book are written in a fashion that combines left-wing political thought with a certain brand of humor.  The author makes it plain in his particular political pronouncements, his support of political cartoonists in very left-wing places like New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Austin, and Chicago, and in the fact that he supports such corrupt groups as ACORN that he is by no means a moderate and that he rejects outright moderation.  The title of this book ought to make that much plain, and the book is written in much the same vein of amusing but irresponsible grandstanding, the sort that gets one elected to local and statewide office in Texas, at least once upon a time.  The almost 300 pages of this book are divided into chapters on the rise of corporatism, the class warfare that is waged against ordinary commonfolk, the corporatist media, pollution, and politics.  The author manages to be broadminded enough to encourage among fellow Democrats a willingness to court socially conservative but economically moderate to liberal Christian voters, of which I am one, and this book must be engaged to fellow political movers and shakers as an example of intraparty advocacy [1].  It should also be noted that this book has been entirely useless in actually leading the Democratic party to cease waging their destructive cultural war on the American public, something which has largely led to the extinction of the Democratic party in the South and may even be making it harder for Democrats to hold on to the blue collar voters of the rust belt, as we have seen in the recent election.

So, how is one to view this book?  On the one hand, the author is certainly cynical and his support of radical causes is highly troubling, as the author can be said to be an early example of the mindset that led to the occupy movement and that can also be seen as the core of support for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in 2016.  On the other hand, the author taps into the sort of popular anger with cultural elites that I personally share, and that has led to the rise of many kinds of insurgent political campaigns like Perot, Buchanan, the Tea Party, and Donald Trump’s recent campaign on the right along with other populist campaigns on the left that the author would likely support and endorse and may even have been involved in.  The author manages to point out many of the problems that have resulted from increased power among our elites, including the concentration of political and economic powers in the hand of a corporatist elite that supports increased welfare for the wealthy and has largely corrupted the political discourse within our country, at least as far as the mainstream media is concerned.  I would say that the author and I agree on the problems he discusses but disagree strongly on the solutions.  Nevertheless, the agreement is a partial one and to that extent, this is a book that is worthwhile to read in order to see with the eyes of progressive radicals who are seeking to be their most broadminded, which is when they are at their most appealing.  If this book is a bridge or two too far for the reader, it is likely that nothing from the progressive camp could be more appealing.  It only goes downhill from here.

[1] It should be noted that I read this sort of book fairly often.  See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Book Review: There’s Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos

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