Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 4, Fall 2008, pp. 334-35.
I swear I once read in one of my mother's Reader's Digests: "This is a book that all true Americans should be forced to read." Maybe that's a false memory from my youth, but Living Blue in the Red States certainly is one of those books.
Living Blue in the Red States should have a "No Spin Zone" warning on the cover-it could be dangerous for politicians to read. The pollsters and punsters would have us believe we live in the bowels of a Blue state/Red state monster, each political splinter group desperately clinging to its little wedge issue of cheese floating about in the politicians' vitriol. David Romtvedt, Poet Laureate of Wyoming, reminds us that "the coding of our states as red or blue . . . tells us very little about the people with whom we are passing our lives."
Meanwhile, back in Nebraska, Jonis Agee's narrator does something ordinary: bring in a man to get rid of pesky raccoons on her property. A rational act by a person who thinks she's in control of her life, she rediscovers for us something about politics that is one of the major themes of this book-that all our actions have consequences that resonate far beyond what we may think of as our own sphere of influence. As the left keeps chanting about the war in Iraq, "It's all about the oil," these writers spell it out for us-"Politics: It's all about the people."