Right Nation

I was amused when, while working in North Carolina in 2003, I visited some friends for Thanksgiving. All their neighbours introduced themselves and then, on finding I was English, apologised. “It’s not our fault, we didn’t vote for him!” Stood amongst those liberal, well travelled and smart people it was difficult to reconcile this with the fact that they lived in a country that had a president that was none of those things.

It’s bizarre. Virtually every American I’ve met has disliked Dubya, yet over the whole country, despite a number of obvious set-backs, his popularity has rarely been in question. Why such a contradiction? How did it get like that and how soon will the US be returning to normal?

I decided to read “Right Nation” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge to find out.

It is split into four sections, starting with the history, then the anatomy (the various parts that make up the American Right), then prophecy (what comes next) and finally exception (what makes America different). It drills down into each area in detail, exploring their main ideas from any number of different angles.

For those that are looking for Dubya-bashing, this is not the book for them. In fact, if anything, he has gone up in my estimation after reading it. Not to say that he comes out smelling of roses. In fact the main villain of the piece turns out to be John Ashcroft, not necessarily because he did the worst things (although the PATRIOT Act takes some beating) but because, given the power, he ended up doing the exact opposite of what he professed to support.

I can’t say that I necessarily agreed with everything in the book, but I would say that was to its credit. The authors proudly claim that they have been accused of being sympathisers of both sides of the debate, which just goes to show how even handed they’ve been. The main criticism that I would level is that it was very dry and academic in tone. The langage is precise and functional, the structure shows detailed research and clear thinking. Maybe it’s just in the nature of a non-fiction tome like it and, while not entirely off-putting, didn’t make it a page-turner. I also found some US-centric terms not defined anywhere, or maybe they’re defined once but are just well hidden. For example, I thought you bought jeans at The GOP until I looked it up and realised my mistake.

But back to our original questions — why and how much longer do we have to put up with Bush and his cronies? Does the book answer those questions? For the most part, yes. You may not agree with (or like) the conclusion, but it does give some serious food for thought and is well worth a read.


2 responses to “Right Nation”

  1. hey, wouldn’t mind borrowing it?

  2. while we’re on the subject
    1. i really fail to see how the british govt is really any better, even if they just trail after the american govt. most people in the UK are quite anti all the various trooping abroad and yet the govt, supposedly the arbiters of public opinion, gainsay it by continually following the unelected doctrine of the holy us government.
    2. speaking of holy, that blair is a crypto-catholic ๐Ÿ™‚ brazillions of examples of his godbothering cronies upon request, tho so far we are to the left of the us in many of these matters, wonders how long this will last
    3. don’t get me started on ireland, a so called neutral state with more desert fatigues running around shannon airport than blackhawk down ๐Ÿ™‚ Not To Mention the church and state relationship being that of the oak tree and the ivy.

    the above fulminating serving to point out that from my relatively uninformed view, the whole godfearing rightwing thing is a very international trend. in small countries like ireland, it’s a long term way of life ๐Ÿ™‚